Posted in My Makes, Sewing

Tilly & the Buttons, Cleo; ribbed for your pleasure

New Things
– Corduroy
– Dungaree Clips

What Went Well
– Hammering Technique

What I need to work on
– Cutting out
– Working with Corduroy
– Top Stitching

What I have learned
– Corduroy is not easy to cut out and work with AND it makes a mess
– How to hammer no sew buttons

Changes to make when I make another
– Go down a pattern size
– Don’t kid yourself, if you want a short skirt, just cut the pattern for a short skirt
– Try another material or a different corduroy
– Be sure I have improved sufficiently before attempting a make this pattern with contrast top stitching.

Kit £39.00 (but fabric, thread and dungaree clips from Kit not used, only pattern. 
Fabric £12 (£6 per metre & over 0.5m left over)
Dungaree Clips £2.40
Thread £nil (from existing supplies)
Total I’ve spent  £53.40
(Relative spend, excluding un-used kit, would be: Pattern £12.50, Fabric £12 Dungaree Clips £2.40 Total £26.90)


Cleo pinafore & dungaree dress - sewing pattern by Tilly and the Buttons

I think November 2016 was all about the Tilly and the Buttons Cleo and after seeing lots of lovely makes I decided that I wanted one.  Rather than just buying a pattern I ordered the kit which comes with material and notions.  At the time most colours were out of stock so I went for the cream needlecord but I also really wanted one in a darker colour cleo so purchased 2m of dark red cord and decided to make one in that colour first.

Everyone seems to be making the short version but worried it would be too short so I decided to be a little different and go for the longer one but without the slit in the front and to shorten it when I finished making it to the length I wanted.  Either I will be able to walk in it or not.

The pattern looked fairly straightforward and the descriptions were clear with lots of photos (just like the Bettine).  I’m really appreciating the Tilly & The Buttons patterns good colour pics and descriptions that give me confidence in sewing by myself.  I also just love the thick white paper the pattern is printed on.  I feel spoiled by by it when compared to brown tissue paper.  

My biggest ongoing challenge is cutting out.  I know that seems really silly and that cutting out should be simple but I have really poor cutting out skills.  I struggle getting everything lined up and struggle keeping it that way to cut.
I had thought that the clear lines on cord would mean I had no issues with grain lines, and whilst on the smaller pieces like pockets that was the case on the large front and back pieces as well as the long thin straps I found it really tricky and wasn’t happy with what I did.  I didn’t get on well with scissors or my rotary cutter.  In the end this make was one that I cut out mostly with scissors but that only made it nearly possible and not easy.

I started out folding my material in half selvage to selvage but couldn’t keep it from going just slightly off.   I was checking by running a nail along the first ditch in the cord and found no matter what minor adjustments I made it wouldn’t run the whole length of the fabric in position.  (After washing my fabric (wow lots of colour came out on that wash) I did spend quite some time ironing, with the grain, not sure if I undid that by leaving the fabric loosely folded for a couple of days after.).

I ended up cutting single layer at a time as I was having so much trouble just keeping my pieces lined up and cutting along one line, it was a battle from start to finish and in the end not as accurate as I would like.

Sewing up the centre seams was the first part of the make.  My imperfect cutting made this a worry and although not quite vertical the strips of the ribbing came out fairly even.  I wasn’t convinced by the fold over of the raw edges but went ahead with it having trimmed down one side with my overlocker as the fabric frays easily.  I think I may have completed the fold overs incorrectly though as I did them on the inside.

I found the pockets really tricky to line up so much so that after attaching the top front pocket (for the second time plus re sewing a bit as my pocket seemed saggy at the opening ) I have decided to not bother with the back pockets.

Once the pocket was done things really sped up for me as I had already turn my straps so they went on, the sides sewed up and then my facing went on fairly quickly and problem free.

I have the recommended buckles from my kit but had also purchased  separately some braces clips.  I liked the dark bronze colour of these clips and thought they better suited the red corduroy.    

Image result for mc hammer
STOP Hammer Time

I had to hammer the button parts, which was actually quite fun and took only seconds.  I was more bemused by how to attach the clips, and am not sure whether I have threaded them correctly but they are holding their place and that is the main thing.





Then I was done.  I like the overall effect, but am glad I didn’t go for contrast thread as this wasn’t the neatest sewing job, which I think can  been seen up close on the front pocket.  I’ve been wearing it nonetheless, and wearing it out in public.  I think I would like to make another but as I finished my make before the summer with the weather relatively warm it hasn’t been a priority, November probably is the right time for this project, but now November has come round as I’m in the middle of some more difficult makes I’m not sure when I will find the time to try again with my cream needlecord.



In the above 2 pictures I was giving a talk about Slow Fashion (& the ethical & environmental problems with fast fashion) at a High Wycombe Skeptics in the Pub open mike night.   

Posted in My Makes, Sewing

Pattern Weights

I find cutting out my pattern pieces really tricky and have developed a I have a strong preference for using a rotary cutter rather than scissors and pins, for most fabric.

It was suggested to me in my sewing class (last term) that I should make myself some pattern weights.  I think it was maybe amusing for my sewing class colleagues to see me getting various tins and jars out of my bag to use as weights at first but then they all got sick of it.

So it was suggested I make some pattern weights.  I did google for some ideas and was more drawn to doing something with washers then making little beanbags.

I really like these fondant fancy pattern weights that I found on Etsy but I’m already way over my sewing budget so making my own is the way forward for now.  (Plus they look so good I think I might try and eat them.)

I left making my own pattern weights on my to do list for a number of months until I was having a motivated afternoon.  So I headed out to my local wicks picked up 6 bags of washers (at two different sizes) and some insulating tape.  Once home I started experimenting with different ways to rap up a group of washers.

And then my husband got involved.  We used pencils and clamps to keep the washers lined up and found tightly wrapping a line of tape round the edge was our preferred method.

But we weren’t done there.  I said I would like something to cover the washers so they didn’t look like they were just washers with tape round them.  My husband had some target stickers that he dug out from the cupboard under the stairs that when cut to size looked good with black tape.  So I now have 6 heavy round target pattern weights and I think they look really smart.

The target stickers are just sticky paper so might not last that well and might need replacing at some point but at the moment they look great.

Posted in My Makes, Sewing

Taking up Curtains – Selfless Sew

It has happened, I knew it would and I’ve been trying to avoid it but that doesn’t work forever.  Having taken up sewing I knew the time would come when other people would start asking me to do sewing jobs for them.

I was at my sister’s house at the beginning of the year and she got out a pair of curtains handed them to me and asked if i would take them up (once I was already holding them – she’s no fool).  So after measuring the length she wanted them to end at from the curtain pole I took them home dumped them on a chair and ignored them for a month.

When my sister chased me about them a month later I ask her what length I was shortening them to (as I not written it down so forgotten I decided I had better get on with it.

She had purchased some cute black out curtains from Dunelm for my niece’s room but they needed to be shortened to 151 cm.

I could have done some research and found out if there is a way you are meant to do this but I just wanted to get it over with so I made up my own way keeping things as simple as possible.

I enlisted the help of my husband and his long tape measure to mark out two lines at 149 and 158 on the wrong size of the curtains.  I cut both layers at 158 unpicked the side seams to a little above the 149 line and then ran the black out layer through my overlocker cutting and sewing it up.  I decided to leave that raw edge exposed – as its just the back of the curtain.

The curtain went back on the floor and my husband helped me mark another two lines, this time on the right side of the fabric, at 156 and 151. Using these lines as a guide I ironed a double fold and pinned.

Starting a little away from the unpicked edge I sewed up the double fold.  Then when back to the edge tucked in all the folds and edges, I held the corners in place and ran a quick line of stitches to keep everything in place.

I repeated the whole process for the second curtain – and I was done.

To be fair it wasn’t anywhere near as time consuming or difficult as I though it might have been though I would not have wanted to measure and mark out my cutting lengths without help.

The end result is good and I don’t think you can tell the were shortened.


My sister would like me to point out these pictures were taken when we hung the curtains but she knows she has not pulled them to make the pinch pleats so they are not yet looking as good as they will, I’m just pleased I got the length correct.

Posted in My Makes, Sewing

#SewMyStyle Toaster Sweater V2

Having signed up to #SewMyStyle my first new project for January was to make a Sew House Seven Toaster Sweater.

The Toaster Sweaters (PDF or Paper)

New Things/New techniques or skills
– Knit fabric
– Twin needle – (including breaking 3)
– Sleeves

What Went Well
– The make – good instructions easy to follow
– Fit & pattern adjustment
– The re-threading of my overlocker
– Speed of making
– My taylor tacks and careful cutting out

What I need to work on
– Not breaking twin needles
– Stitching in the ditch – I missed the ditch on one side
– overlocker tension – loose loopers
– twin needle, stitches too small and tension too tight

What I have learned
– My first knit fabric
– Stitching in the ditch
– Sewing with a Twin Needle (though I think I am missing something given how many needles I broke)

What I would change if I made another
– Lenghen my twin needle stitches

I purchased both versions of the Toaster Sweater.

I didn’t notice when I bought them that version 2 is the official first pattern and had deliberated a bit over which version to make.  Seeing version 2 only had 3 pattern pieces hinted to me it was the easier make and when I realised it was specifically version 2 that was chosen for #SewMyStyle that firmed it up.

My first aim for 2017 was to sew some knits and I purchased some teal ponte de roma at the back end of last year in anticipation.  I really like the colour and though it might look nice in a jumper so re allocated that material for my Toaster Sweater.

I put my fabric through the washing machine and the drier.

I then painstakingly ironed all 3 metres of it (will use what is left for another project)
I ordering some ballpoint needles and a twin needle.
Carefully traced out the pattern pieces from the delicate tissue paper onto my Swedish tracing paper and then wondered for a bit.

The Toaster sweater is designed to be a fairly short jumper but I didn’t want something that was going to stop around my waist.So I thought it would be a good idea to do a trial run. One of my early fabric purchases included some very cheep knit fabric at £1 per metre.  That was lounging at the bottom of my fabric box.  It doesn’t feel that nice against the skin, doesn’t stretch and I don’t love the colour.  I had thought I would never have a use for it BUT turns out it is exactly what I needed. Having no stretch I could sew it up see how it fit, especially length at the front and in the arm.  I could practice all the sewing stages without having to be perfect or unpick loads on my final sweater.

After cutting out my trial top I put it together in an evening.  I’m very pro this, loving the quick completion gratification on a sewing project.  As my main aim was to look at size I did everything on my sewing machine with straight and zig zag stitches.
I was able to understand and follow all the instructions easily, they do take you through every step clearly with pictures, it is a shame they weren’t in colour.  My pattern came with a little note explaining a few mistakes on the pattern and instructions – nothing to worry about thought.
Other than the armhole where the sleeve was bigger than the hole everything came together easily (stretch in the material probably would have helped.  I particularly liked the mitered corners as they came together easily.

Looking at my mock-up the shoulders were in the correct place and the arms were long enough.  I did think the jumper was shorter than I liked in the body though so I added 9.5cm to both the front and the back of my pattern pieces.

Hoping that the stretch wouldn’t make everything else no longer fit I cut out my revised pattern pieces on my ponte fabric.

I decided to use my overlocker for the seams where this was given as an option (fitting sleeves and sewing up sleeves and side seams.  Before I committed to the overlocker on both I sewed them up with a straight stitch on my regular machine.  This worked to a point but it meant when I was going over the straight stitch with the overlocker afterwards I didn’t hold the fabric with enough tension in the sleeve and the seam is a little puckered on one side.

Despite having already made the same minor confusion and mistake on my practice fabric I managed to sew up the mitered corners the wrong way the first time and had to unpick and re-sew them.  The other important point I forgot I had learned was not to attempt to back-stitch as it was too easy to get the fabric edge chewed up.

I decided to be bold and after mega pinning session charge ahead with my first attempt at using a twin needle.  I have no idea how you are supposed to create neat corners but that aside all was going well until I got half way through and I had a needle break.  I had purchased 2, and swapped it out for my second twin needle and whatever was going wrong stayed wrong because I broke the second one on my check that it was stitching fabric scrap.

I’m not sure what was going wrong but I had to put my project on hold and order some more twin needles.  When they arrived I picked this make up again and found the broken end of one of my needles still in the jumper.


I got started again and  realised my first needles were 2.5mm apart and these new ones were 4mm apart.  Rather than unpick what I had done so far I decided to just have the distance vary from the front to the back and get this finished.  It isn’t the sort of thing I think most people would notice unless they were looking very carefully and I had picked a similar colour thread rather than contrast.

After completing my top stitching (including breaking one more needle, it is always the right needle) I had a quick try on of my jumper and decided to sew up the cuffs at 4cm rather than 2.5cm as they seemed a little long.

And then my jumper was done.

Posted in My Makes, Sewing

Bettine One

New Things
– Tilly & the Buttons Patterns
– My first dress
– sleeves (luckily for me these beginner sleeves were grown on)
– Facing neckline
– Swedish tracing paper.

What Went Well
– Wearable Dress
– Getting a dress out of 2m of narrow fabric when the instructions said I needed more

What I need to work on
– Thinking about patterns and cutting placement
– Finishing raw edges sans overlocker
– Related to the above handling fabric, this cotton was soft, drapy and the moment you go off the grain it felt stretchy/slippy

Changes to make when I make another
– Add length to both the top and the skirt sections, at least 6cm to each.

I ordered some Tilly and the Buttons beginners patterns having read so many great things about them, especially the Bettine.

Bettine sewing pattern - easy dress sewing pattern for beginners

So I have decided to make one.  I love pockets on a dress so disregarded the non-pocket beginner option for the pocket version. Because I am always this person:

My measurements never fit a size, I have a large waist and narrow hips, with my chest somewhere in-between.  Looking at the pattern and measurements with the loose fit I decided to make a size 6 on the top and waist and grade down to a size 5 on the hips.  I did start to worry when cutting the pattern pieces that the pockets would no longer have the same shape with a more pronounced curve on the outside – though it didn’t end up much of an issue.

Tilly and the Buttons pattern paper is fantastic, its thick and white and you can handle it confidently without worrying about ripping it.  I like to keep all my original patterns in tact so I traced off the pattern onto my Swedish Tracing paper.  (New and being used for the first time).  I really like the stuff, you can see through it but also see pencil on it really clearly, It cuts nicely and although it is really light it is more sturdy than tissue paper but softer more opaque than tracing paper.

I wondered about adding length to the top and bottom but with material limitation I though I would make this one the pattern size and then review for my next one.  I was thinking this dress would be a sort of wearable toile, and I would have a better idea if I should change anything on my next one.

I had 2 metres of of this nice blue and white fabric, some sort of soft drapy cotton, the pattern info said I needed more but I thought I would try and squeeze everything on.  I managed it, and am quite pleased with myself about it as all that is left of that 2m are a few thin uneven lengths of fabric which you could not even cut another armhole band from.

My overlocker was off being repaired and I don’t have pinking sheers so my only option was zigzagging the raw edges.  I was surprised how tricky i found this.  My tension was too tight on my machine  to start with and zigzags pinched the material in places.  My trimming of the raw edges was a bit uneven  also my eyeballing was off in several places where my zigzigs were either quite far in the seam lines or right over the edge.  The fabric had also started fraying madly so overall I just don’t love the look of seams on the inside and think my next attempt will be done with the overlocker.  I may also go back and redo some of the edges on this one once I have my overlocker back.

I had a few issues inserting the waistband elastic.  I had some elastic that I planned to use (I have 10m of it) but it was the same size as the channel so just a tiny bit little too wide to fit through which I decided after trying really hard to force it through.  I stopped when I broke a few stitches off the inside edge.  So I left it for the evening and popped to the shop the next day for some slightly narrower elastic.

After my speediest ever hemming (mostly due to impatience) my dress was done.  Well as done as I wanted it, as you will see from the photos I left the sleeve bands down, its winter and l liked the sleeves a bit longer (almost to the elbow).  I think they look fine that way.

So I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I looked at the dress on a hanger and became disappointed, the pattern just looked horribly off, the top and bottom are not aligned, no-where close to matching but not far enough apart to just look different, it was aesthetically displeasing to look at.  I didn’t have any spare material to pattern match as it was a struggle just to get everything cut out on the fabric I had.  Originally I’d thought it is a big swirly pattern; should be fine not matching but that was not the case.  I showed it to my husband who came up with a great solution ‘don’t I have a big white belt, why not wear that with it to hid the join’.

My big white belt saved the day and I’m back to really liking my new dress, check out those pockets!

Next time I make this dress, as I will be make another, I will be adding a bit of length to the top and the skirt, not too much I’m thinking maybe 6cm and 10cm.

Posted in My Makes, Sewing

Boxing Clever – Box Pleat Skirt

I picked this project from my book The Great British Sewing Bee – Sew your own wardrobe

New techniques/skills
– box pleats
– blind hem
– Zip/invisible zip

What I liked
– my sewn up box pleats

What I need to work on
– taylors tacks
– Fit!!!
-blind hemming

Changes change if I made another
– Picking the correct fabric.  I love the soft grey cotton (a brushed poly/cotton at £3 a metre from Croft Mill online) that I made this from but for really crisp box pleats maybe a stiffer fabric would have worked better and held the pleats more easily.

The book comes with 5 sheets of plans and the book contains +20 projects so those 5 pages have lots of patterns all in different colours.  So once again I started out be making tracings of a pattern on my tracing paper, at my class instructors suggestion I added some length to the skirt as I wanted something knee length rather than a mini skirt.

I selected a plain gray cotton so I wouldn’t have to worry about pattern matching as well as making box pleats.

After cutting out and marking where the box pleats go with a combination of taylors tacks (back) and my fabric pen (front – cause I got lazy) I then had a bit of a dilemma as to how do move forward with making my box pleats.

The lines of the box pleat appeared to be off at angles but I decided to just move forward and hope it worked.

I like the look when the box pleat is sewn in place for a portion of the skirt.  So after faffing about trying to iron along the box lines and not having everything match up I decided that I would sew my box pleats together part way down and make final fitting adjustments on the side seams.

I managed to pull out my taylors tacks (I suppose that is what happens when you leave things lying around too long) so had to do some careful staring to find the marked points.
I’m not sure if it was the design or my mistake but the back of the skirt is wider than the front and the box pleats have different angles.  At the front they are angled outwards and at the back they closer to parallel.  I wasn’t convinced the angles on the front box pleats we correct but went ahead with the two different angles anyway to see how it turned out.

I also noticed my edges were starting to fray so used it as an excuse to use my new overlocker to go round the bottom and sides (up to zip) .

I chose to go with french seams or ish-french seams with overlocked seams on the inside.  In retrospect this was not a good idea.  It made things a little fiddly when trying to check fit and then the seam itself was a bit bulky and rather large when I adjusted for fit. Even finished I’m half tempted to cut them open and press them flat, but as they are now sewn in top and bottom it would just make things messy.

I cut and used medium intefacing on the waistband and was really pleased at how it came out.  I had to cut the waistband a little longer than my traced pattern as it looked too short when compared to the top of the skirt.
I ironed a centre crease and then the inside fold and sewed it in and I am really pleased how it turned out as it looks quite straight and neat.

I was also pleased with my positioning of my zip (for which I used the technique from class of basing closed pinning and sewing the zip and then unpicking.
Apart fromI used an invisible zip because I had one gray zip and it was an invisible zip – oops.  I don’t think it was too bad for a first attempt, for which I also used a normal zip foot, but it is not invisible at all.  So this was all a bodge, but it is in and looks fairly neat from the outside of the garment.
What I did get slightly off was where I had already sewed up to on the outside at the bottom of the zip, you can’t actually unzip the zip to the end.  This came about because I kept changing my mind as to where I wanted the zip to start from (top or bottom of waistband) and I changed my mind at the last minute forgetting how far I had sewed up.  I may unpick and resew it later if I have trouble getting in and out of it.  But it is fine for now.

I left this skirt hanging unhemmed for ages.  When I tried it on before hemming I don’t know what I had been thinking when fitting but it was way to big.  After 2 minutes being annoyed and disappointed I decided to fix it by adding a central seam down the back.  I took 3cm in either side (so lost 6cm total) and it fits a bit better, even if it doesn’t look as good.  I could have done with taking it in a bit further at the waist but I just took an even 3cm off it so the waistband still looks straight, rather that some sort of V shape.

The other thing that was clear looking at my hung skirt (before taking in the central seam) and it the bottom was distinctly uneven, so I measured and drew out on the skirt a new bottom and sliced and sewed it up with my overlocker.  Then folded and folded again with a 4cm hem and attempted to blind stitch.  After stitching I remembered that I had purchased some clear/invisible thread especially to do this, but it was too late.  This is another skill I need to work on as although I think most of the little stitch just grab the skirt you can see where the hem is in a few places.  maybe a smaller hem would have been less obvious or maybe a stitch with a little less tension.

I hand stitched a hook for the waistband, gave it a final iron and my skirt was done.

It isn’t perfect but these photos are from the second time I wore it to work.

Posted in My Makes, Sewing

Vault Dweller Costume

We had a Halloween party invite there were two themes was Fallout & Circus.

My husband’s favourite game is Fallout so it was an easy choice to pick between the two and vault dwellers were the obvious choice for us with their distinctive blue jumpsuits with yellow embellishments.

If you don’t know if you recognise the game or vault dwellers, this guy is the cartoon character.

Image result for fallout


There were 2 main parts to our outfits; clothing & weapons so our costume clothing was down to me.

To make things easier we purchased blue boiler suits and at first I thought I would just iron stick on some yellow bits and it would be an easy job.  However nothing ever quite works out.

When the boiler suits arrived we cut the many external labels off and tried them on, mine fit fine (having taken up sewing I knew my measurements by referring to my cheat sheet) unfortunately my husbands boiler suit was a bit small for him (I should have measured him and not left him to his own devices).  We didn’t have time to send them back and had cut off some badges and labels so I though I could fix the problem by adding some extra length on the yellow waistband.

Adding the waistband meant  cutting out most of the zip (and having the zip end lower when I re-stitched it back.  There were poppers as well a a zipper so I was happy that would leave him awkwardly half dressed.

I started out using some lovely yellow cotton that I found in the bargain bin at my local fabric shop.
However i didn’t look at it carefully before purchasing it and it was very pretty but thin, with a pattern.  I thought I could double it to add strength and help blot out the pattern.  However having added a band to the trouser half I decided I wasn’t happy and unpicked everything to start again.

Second time around I used some unpatterned polyester backed with fairly firm interfacing for his waistband.  After attaching my second band to the trousers I kept his boiler suit in two pieces until the end as it was much easier manovering around to sew in all the other embellishments without having all the trouser material to deal with.

We did a little research on what our vault number would be.

101 is the Vault most will recognise from the game but as we weren’t actually going as specific game characters just people from the fallout I had a quick look on a wiki and picked Vault 29 to be our Vault.

Short Story of Vault 29

Vault 29 is one of the vaults built by Vault-Tec. As part of the vault experiment, it was meant to be populated by young children, with the original inhabitants being no more than 16 years old. (longer story at the bottom of this post.)

In addition to yellow waistbands both costumes needed parallel vertical lines up the front of the chest which curve round the neck and meet at the back.

Large Vault number on the back and small numbers on the collar.

We also needed mandarin collar – which are not usually an option on boiler suits.

My husband selected the correct font for the numbers (this was an important detail) and drew out the numbers.  On the larger numbers for our backs to get nice crisp edges he also drew out edges for folding that we cut round (using some careful snips round the curves.  I used my heaviest interfacing to make the numbers easier to handle and we both pretty pleased with the result.  I had to sew round the edges the numbers onto the back as they just wouldn’t stick well with wonder web and those were the turns that made not having all the leg material getting in the way made a real difference.

On the collar I did quick attempt at something like a mandarin collar by folding the collar inwards and sewing it up – it worked from a distance.  I would have like to cut part of it out but I was against the clock and hours from the party by this point.

I used a bit of glue to hold the smaller collar numbers in place for long enough for me to stitch along them.

The other yellow stripe was a bit of an interesting one.  Along the chest was nice and easy as the stripes were straight but round the neck was a bit more challenging.  I used a technique I would call bodge and guess to draw out the shape I wanted whilst hanging the top off the end of the ironing board and then just did my best, pinned it all in place and stitching the strips on.

Then finally I sewed the bigger suit back together, using several lines of stitching connecting but  top and bottom to the waistband.  Thinking that my husband would not thank me if he popped a few stitches and had his trousers fall down at the party.  I re-attached the zip and then piled everything in the car for a very long drive to Devon with a significant detour to pick up my husband along the way.

I’m pretty pleased with the results, especially given what a rush it was to get finished on the day of the party.

We added some old 58 pattern webbing belts and pouches to complete our look, along with our awesome weapons (which don’t fire anything are made of cardboard and plastic mostly but look so much like the weapons in the game).

We had a great time at the party, and were impressed when we turned up and found out host Joe had transformed his house for the occasion.



If I was to do this again I would 
1.  Make sure the boiler suits we ordered were the correct size before ordering.
2.  Forget cotton and polyester and go for felt or anything else less prone to fraying.
3.  Investigate gluing/ironing on options, there must be something better than wonderweb, and if no try using lots of wonderweb and then just tacking odd bits where i think things are more likely to come unstuck.
4.  Learn how do insert collars/mandarin collars – as up close you can see my bodge.
5.  Try not to leave everything to a last minute panic (well maybe that would be my intention).



Long Story of Vault 29 

‘This vault’s experiment was devised by scientific genius Derek Greenway. Most of the parents were either “accidentally” redirected to other vaults or were in the early stages of health conditions that would no doubt cause them to die soon after entering the vault. Instead of a human controller, Vault 29 would have a ZAX super-computer. The ZAX would be programmed to raise children with the aid of robotic helpers, educate them in a primitive culture, and upon their reaching maturity, release them into a controlled environment. They would then be free to rebuild society from the ground up.
At one point Greenway explained his plans for Vault 29 to Diana, the human brain connected to a powerful computer, to see what her opinion would be. He was quite surprised when Diana was appalled at the idea. She said that, although the idea had merit, she found it to be morally objectionable on several levels. She recommended that the plan be scrapped. When Derek refused to do so, Diana took it upon herself to become involved with the project without his knowledge.
When the Great War started and civilization began to fall apart, Diana appropriated control of a satellite dish and aimed it at Vault 29. She then transmitted a series of security codes to the vault’s ZAX unit, and gained control. Over the years that followed, Diana was able to see to the upbringing of the children. Every year she ordered a worker robot to leave the vault under the pretext of checking conditions outside. In reality they were preparing an area – the village of Twin Mothers – to receive the vault populace when they were ready to leave. Lastly she had a series of projectors installed at strategic locations, ready to project her chosen image. Finally, when the vault doors were opened the inhabitants found Twin Mothers built. Everything was coming together, Diana was ready to play god.
By 2253, the vault itself has ceased working, but it’s still a holy place to the inhabitants of Twin Mothers.’

So now you know.

Posted in My Makes, Sewing

Colette Sorbetto, Hacking the Hack with homemade bias binding

I decided to hack a hack and make a slightly different version based on Collette’s Sorbetto top.

New techniques/skills
– making my own bias binding
– darts
– Making my own pattern

What I need to work on
– cutting bias binding stripes
– rolled hems
– darts

From the original Collette pattern I made another pattern, this time keeping the darts but I added the length and curved hem at the bottom.  I again took out the centre panel and left off any front pocket.  I also picked somewhere inbetween the original and original hack neck lines and drew a new neckline using my french curve

I used my favorite french seams for the sides and shoulders.

I kept the bust darts this time round they aren’t perfectly symmetrical but I don’t think that is noticeable when being worn.   It was a bit of a faff trying to sew in exactly the correct place especially ending them in the correct place
I did give using my rolled hem foot a couple of goes on some scrap fabric but couldn’t get more than 3cm of nice rolled hem before it all went wrong.  I think it might work better with a much lighter fabric – and probably a lot more practice.
Not wanting to mess things up completely I faked a rolled hem with regular stitching and ironing, and it is a little better then my previous top.

The big deal this time round was my matching material bias binding.  Which was a project all on its own.

Ever one to get the most for my money I used the largest disguarded scraps of my material to make the bias binding.  This did mean I had a lot more seams then maybe would have been ideal but it gave me more practice and waste not want not.

Using not that large a piece of material did have one advantage though, it meant I could use my sturdy 30cm ruler to guide my rotary cutter most of the way.

I have a lovely long 1m ruler but it is too chunky to run my rotary cutter along side.

Cutting strips was probably the hardest part of this task.  I drew out my lines in fabric pen, then placed my ruler along each line and tried to cut carefully.  I had a few wonky ends where my ruler ended or I managed to go slightly off course and every time I did so two strips were affected.  However I had more than enough strips to edge the neckline and armholes plus the wonky edges are are not seen once you sew in the bias binding so it all worked.

The second trickiest part was sewing the strips together,  slightly wonky ends don’t help when you want to make balanced exact diagonals.  Also I sewed off the end a couple of times.  But the most challenging part was  getting everything the best way round to connect right sides to continue with raw edges underneath.  I had several moments when I realised after sewing two pieces together that I either had one back to front or I had the raw edges showing.  (there is one raw edge on display that I didn’t notice until after I had had attached it to the top.  But the edge is cut very short so it isn’t that noticeable,  I left it as is on the top.

Having purchased a set of these bias binding maker tools – off ebay a cheaply as I could for quick delivery – I had some fun figuring out what to do with it.  They are a little fiddly to use but once you get started they work well, if you keep ironing as you go.  Getting that good pressed line meant slow work.  Only letting a little material through at a time is the trick.  When I was finished I kept the iron and anything else heavy I could find on my newly made binding to help it really keep the shape on the folds lines.

I like the result, and I like this top better than my first Sorbetto, though it is maybe a still a bit roomy I think the bust darts do give it a better shape.  I also prefer the slightly higher neck.  Again I made this out of a similar weight cotton to the first and think fabric with a little more drape might have worked better.

I will be calling this one a success though as I have been washing and wearing regularly since making.

Posted in My Makes, Sewing

Colette Sorbetto, Hack Version

Free is tempting word.

Having signed up to the Colette website with their download guides in hemming I also found a free pattern for a top

I didn’t like the look of the central panel at the front so when I saw this hack version
I decided this was the one I wanted to make.

New techniques/skills
– using a digital print pattern
– bias binding
– hacking a pattern (with instructions)

What I need to work on
– rolled hem
– thinking about size/fitting (even on loose garments)

The free print out pattern, prints onto A4 and needs a lot of careful cutting out and sticking together.

This made me feel it is very much worth paying for a pattern on large paper.  So much time and effort just to get to the stage you would otherwise be at by opening an envelope.

(since painstaking cutting round all 4 edges of the square and carefully sticking them all together I have since read that most people only cut 2 sides (e.g. right & bottom) and then stick their pages together)

Once I had the pattern put together I decided I would not want to do that again so copied out the pattern onto tracing paper to hack.

I chose not to add the pocket, I thought I’d like it better without, plus my material has pattern and would need some careful pattern matching, it isn’t a pocket I would use so I left if off.

As per the instructions I added a line of stay stitching round the neckline as soon as soon as I had cut my material.  Even though I was  sewing cotton I was feeling quite concerned about getting this right as I didn’t want to stretch or misshape my neckline.

This top was my first attempt at adding bias binding.  I purchased pre-made bias binding to make my life easier and after watching several youtube videos to get the idea of what I was supposed to do I was rather pleased with the results.

I used my favorite french seams for the sides and shoulders.

The curved bottom of the top was probably the trickiest challenge.  Although my sewing machine does have a rolled hem presser foot but have in now way have a clue how to use it.  Instead I used a combination of ironing, pinning and straight stitching.  Which sort of worked.  If you look carefully you can see how the edging is a bit uneven and how in a few places I have lost the gentle curve where I have tried to tuck/fold/change direction suddenly.

However my final conclusion is this top is wearable.

There does seem to be more material than necessary at the bottom and it would continue to be wearable even if I was quite pregnant.

I think if I was to make this exact top again I would go for a more drapy fabric or take it in a little at the bottom.

Posted in My Makes, Sewing

Gathered skirt, though gathering

When I decided to start sewing one of the first things I discovered searching on Youtube was the amazing Gretchen Hirsch.

She has great personal style and comes across really well on video.  She teaches sewing; you can tell by the way she breaks things down and talks you through everything step by step.

I sat watching this first video

and it helped me to identify the parts of my own sewing machine and gave me the confidence and encouragement to just give it a go.

I then found this video

and decided to ignore the intermediate label and just give it a go.

What I did well
– French seam – I love the look of these.  I keep looking at the seams on my store-bought clothes and thinking pah my french seams are neater and there is less edge stuff to rub against my skin.
– Adding interfacing.  There is one small strip stuck to the press cloth but all the rest went on and stuck well first go.
– A working zip

Things I learned
– If you don’t measure and carefully cut, you just make things more difficult later on
– how to gather
– using dental floss instead of thread for gathering (it slides easily and on the odd occasion where I was going to hit the dental floss I could feel it against the needle and stop before I sewed it in place)
– use interfacing where the zip goes, take care and measure carefully.
– Zipper foot identified!
– If you wonder having pressed that bit should I go back and press this bit again – the answer is yes, yes you should
– Stop second guessing measurements.

First I was disappointed at how wide my waist measurement was, but I followed the measurements and cut the piece.  Later I tried wrapping my waistband round and worried it wouldn’t fit so I did a little bodging by letting everything  out by reducing the seam allowance what I have ended up doing is making a skirt that is a little loose.

Zip pa de do da day, my longer thoughts and story of making a gathered skirt

My first issues came rather early on, having purchased fabric and interfacing, what I didn’t have was big paper.

I cut up the brown paper bag the fabric was in which was just long enough for my waistband but I had nothing like the big roll of butchers paper she uses.  So I decided to wing it/skip it.  When I measured out my fabric selvage to selvage it was about the right length.

I had added a few extra inches length (thinking if it was too long I could shorten but that doesn’t work the other way round) so even after bodging I still have a below the knee skirt.

Rather than try and measure and mark out the material I decided to just hold the fabric up and get my husband to cut across at roughly the right place.  The problem with this method is rather than ending up with 2 nice rectangles I ended up with two wonky trapeziums. with the parallel lines of the selvage edges on the sides of my skirt.

There is nothing like making life un-necessarily difficult!

I don’t have pinking shears but had seen french seams being done on the Great British Sewing Bee so decided to give them a go instead.

My first attempt was scuppered by the fact I didn’t trip the fuzzy edges before sewing the second line (right sides together) so when I looked at my seem from the right side I had a fuzz peaking through all along the seam.  I did wonder about trying to trim it down but ending up unpicking trimming and re sewing.

The sewing a zig sag with dental floss made me feel like I was doing a lot of sewing, it is a lot of material and not having a straight edge to follow whilst thinking about keeping the floss in the right.

In retrospect I didn’t even out my gathers well enough up to the ends, but I think when you don’t look too closely you can get away with not being that even on this type of skirt.

I think I made it worse as I sewed the gathers into the waistband.  Again not having a measured edge to line up with the waistband edge made things difficult. But the worst thing that went wrong was when I sewed up the waistband front and back I let it all get a bit squint.  When I pressed the gathers after sewing them in I slightly unpressed the halfway fold along the waistband and had I repressed that long fold back in place I might not have had this problem.  It is still wearable but just had a couple of wrinkly bits


Pressed the french seam forwards at the bottom on one side (but it is pressed back at the top. Despite that little faux pa I’m still really happy with my french seam.

And finally putting in a zip.   I had to do it twice as the first time the lapped over side went very wrong.  It isn’t perfect on my second attempt but it is workable.  I took me ages to unpick my zip the first time round, dark thread, dark material and dark zip material is bad enough but what i didn’t realise until I came to unpick my mistake is I had not set my stitch length properly and had been sewing tiny tiny 1mm stitches, it was epic and I nearly gave up an threw the whole thing away a couple of times.  I did a little damage to the material too so re-hemming and giving myself a bit more and fresh material to work with was my solution.  It would have been a lot worse if I had not given that area some interfacing to toughen it first but I got there in the end.  The main thing is I put a zip in a skirt, so I’m pretty pleased with myself.