GAM Finale and RTW Fast result.

Well it couldn’t have got any closer to the wire – I finished the last garment I will make this year about 30 minutes ago. I really can’t believe how quickly 2014 has flown past. And just how little I have managed to make for myself. Again. However, changes have been made so look out for a more productive 2015.

So, garment number 8. I discovered pieces already cut out in a box I tend to chuck my ‘get there eventually’ stuff into. I couldn’t actually remember cutting this out so have no idea when I did it. Shameful. Clearly I was making something influenced by Simplicity 2451 which I remember being very popular in blogland. If you have a good memory you might even remember!

Cord skirt with yoke. Finally.

Cord skirt with yoke. Finally.

Cord skirt with yoke pocket and tuck detail.

Cord skirt with yoke pocket and tuck detail.


I vaguely remember deciding that I needed to use my pattern cutting skills more so I imagine I thought this style was simple enough to copy and make up quickly. Part right. Once started this skirt didn’t take too long to sew. Had I tried it on whilst sewing I would have discovered that it was in need of an alteration. The waist needed to be reduces by 2″! Was I happy to know that my gym work has had some good effects. I was too late to get a photograph wearing this but will do so sometime soon.

Garment number 9 is something I have wanted to do for ages. I have made running tights for my daughter from a block detailed in the Patternmaking for Underwear Design by Kristina Shin but not for me. Until today. I decided that since I had a free afternoon I would draw out my leggings block, which I managed very quickly so I completed the pattern. Well, when things are going so well you really have to continue – so I cut out and sewed the leggings after tea. I had some black supplex fabric which I bought ages ago from Tia Knight so was able to get right on with the project. I know how much Jess enjoys her supplex leggings so I am looking forward to wearing these – they are so soft! A really satisfying, speedy garment.

Running tights

Running tights

I didn’t quite manage the 12 garments I had hoped to make for myself, but I am considering 9 out of 12 not too bad. The whole project made me reconsider how much work I want to do for clients and I did decide recently to remove a telephone listing which will definitely reduce work whilst still enabling me to work for my established clients. All in all this is a good result.

Alongside this GAM challenge I have also been on a ready to wear fast. The wardrobe is looking a bit skinny at the moment as I have been getting rid of things that had worn out, or that I decided I really didn’t wear and passed on to someone who would, or one of the local charity shops. The only things I have bought this year are three bras (professionally fitted and I don’t like any of them – guess what may be attempted early next year), and a commemorative Parkrun sports top. I am amazed at how little I have missed shopping for clothes, so much so that I am prepared to do  it again next year. I may be a little less strict but truly I don’t think it will be a problem.

I do have more to show you – I made some gifts for Christmas which I can reveal now – but I will do another post for them.

So, off now to enjoy a glass of Breaky Bottom fizz which the darling daughter bought for The Management and he is willing to share. Have a wonderful New Years Eve, and a very productive 2015 to come. Cheers!

Another jeanius!

These were finished almost a week ago and I have finally given up waiting to have someone available to take the pictures and resorted to the tripod. Aaargh. Anyhoo, let me introduce the snaky jeans.

Snakeprint Jeanius - front

Snakeprint Jeanius – front

Snakeprint jeanius - rear

Snakeprint Jeanius – rear

This fabric had been in my stash for an embarrassing length of time so when my eye was drawn to a pair of snake print trousers in Bazaar magazine I knew it’s time had come. Some might say it ought to have been saved for Jungle January over on the Pretty Grievances blog (yes, it is happening again in 2015) but I have actually got a pearl of a fabric in store for that!

I knew exactly what changes I wanted to make to the last pair (which have been worn and washed like mad) so I was able to just cut out and put the pedal to the metal all the way to finish. This was also helped by having bought the Advanced Industry techniques class from Craftsy in their last big sale. (More on the class at a later date).

What can I say about these? I love them! They have been worn out in public – and admired which is always nice. I now know that unless I change shape radically I have a TNT jeans pattern. Thank you Mr King 🙂

This brings my GAM target up to 7 – only 5 left if I am to finish this year. And only 21 days. Hmmm.

(There is more sewing etc going on here but as in many sewers homes it is top secret at present!)



Jeanius at last!

Don’t ever let anyone say I can’t stick to a project. This one was started months ago. (In May – shocking huh?). But now I have finally finished my first pair of jeans from the Craftsy Jeanius course. And I like them! I am counting them as my 6th garment in the GAM Challenge and I know I have some catching up to do. About six weeks left to make another six garments – not terribly likely but I can try to make some, even if I can’t make them all.

I bought the course with the intention of copying a pair of Max Mara Weekend jeans that I wore loads last year but when I tried them on they didn’t look as good as my faithful Marks&Spencer Per Una everyday jeans.The Management said so so it must be true – he doesn’t often offer an opinion. The Craftsy method of providing video tuition that you can access whenever it suits you is good for me. I learn visually, so it helps that I can see someone actually demonstrating a process. As an experienced dressmaker the demonstrations (not just in this course) are sometimes a bit ‘fullsome’ but this will no doubt be of great help to a novice tackling the project for the first time. Again I came away with new toys (my pressing dept. has been expanded) and I am looking for another couple of things which Kenneth D King makes look indispensable – I will let you know how I get on.


Jeanius muslin front

Jeanius muslin front

Jeanius muslin side

Jeanius muslin side

Jeanius muslin back

Jeanius muslin back

The method he showed to get an accurate copy of your garment was really good – and in no way tied to jeans. I have already used this method to copy a clients jacket for her. Score. I even made a muslin after making the jeans pattern. I just forgot that the jeans were stretch denim and that calico doesn’t stretch. Did I mention how long I have been sewing?

Despite the lack of stretch I was able to get into these, and even fasten the zipper. I was fairly happy with the fit (giving some consideration to how it would translate into my stretch denim) so I went ahead and cut it out in some black which had matured sufficiently in the stash. I like it but don’t love it so wasn’t going to be broken-hearted if it didn’t live up to my hopes.

Jeans front

Jeans front

Jeans back

Jeans back

In the interest of learning I followed Mr Kings instructions precisely – except for the pocket which was different in my jeans – and ended up with a pair of jeans I am happy to wear. Changes on the next pair – use my method of installing the zipper which hides a bit further back in the fly front, use his pocket method as I think it may sit better than mine. Everything else worked well – I loved his method of working the waistband which makes a straight piece into a curve, and the pocket support.

I wore these all day yesterday and they are just like the original so I am very happy. Sadly black really doesn’t photograph well so you will have to take my word on the fit being pretty good. I already have the next fabric washed ready to cut out so I guess this has to be considered a success. I bought the course on sale so I am a very happy bunny! The course is on sale again at the moment – 34% off – if you are inspired. I don’t have any affiliation with Craftsy  – I am just a satisfied student.

On a totally different matter The Management and I had a day out at Dunham Massey (another National Trust property) recently and I saw this sculpture. Isn’t it just gorgeous?

Gorgeous wooden horse

Gorgeous wooden horse

May GAM – A Jeanius Idea

Sorry for that title but I couldn’t help myself.

I was supposed to be stash diving and making up my mind what I wanted to make in May over this weekend but instead I spent most of it outside in my very neglected garden. All of my muscles are aching but the garden is looking infinitely better, and I even took all the rubbish to the tip today so I feel as if I have completed the task. Whoever called these long weekends ‘holidays’ was obviously having a laugh.

Anyhoo, the May GAM choice. I have several pairs of Max Mara trousers/jeans which are now looking a bit sad. They were all bought at deep discount whilst I worked for a ladies dress shop doing their alterations ‘in house’. I have been very reluctant to throw them away despite their decrepitude as they fit me so well – Max Mara clearly suit ladies with ill defined waists and small hips. So I am going to use this as an excuse to do the Kenneth D King ‘Jeanius’ Craftsy course that I have had lined up for ages . Honestly, it has been waiting patiently for so long it is embarrassing.

I have seen several reports where people have successfully used this course to reproduce their favourite jeans so I have fairly high hopes of getting a replacement for the shabbiest pair of Max Mara Weekend jeans. I still have to choose a fabric. I am hopping between the brown fabric I bought in Spain many years ago, which will give an almost identical garment to the one to be copied, or the yellow fabric I think will just be fun. Any suggestions?

XYT Compromise

After days of fiddling I have given in and just finished my Fehr Trade XYT top as a plain work out top – without the built in bra. It works brilliantly, but I still haven’t worked out how to make it sufficiently ‘bounce free’ for my significantly larger than the pattern was intended for bust. I am going to have another attempt when I am not so busy with client work but for now here is the finished plain garment. And I have to say I love it!

Finally finished!

Finally finished!

The fabric is a 4 way stretch lycra that I had as a remnant in my stash. I honestly can’t remember how long it has been lurking so it feels good to have used it . These tops are incredibly frugal with fabric! I needed to take the sides in a little under the arms, and I lengthened the top as I intend this to be used for Pilates classes rather than running. It is too cold to wear this outside in the UK at the moment but I have hopes for the summer.  I used black fold over elastic for the edges which I think gives a lovely contrast to the bright pink, and supports the edges so that they don’t stretch like mad (the fabric would run away without it). I had considered using my coverstitcher binder for the edges but ended up using a 3 step zig zag to attach the elastic, and used the coverstitcher for the hem.

I took a ridiculous length of time making this! Now that the pattern for the basic top is sorted I reckon I could have one cut out and sewn in about an hour – I will have to test that theory out on the next one I make. Unless ‘the girls’ come back down the alphabet significantly I can see that making a top suitable for running without relying on a commercially made sports bra is going to be a challenge. I would like to try again when I can give the project my full attention.

This is my April GAM offering – squeaking in just before the month end. I have no thoughts yet about what I will make in May but I do want to continue stash busting.

On another topic, it is now almost four months into 2014 and I can confirm that I am still sticking to my RTW fast. Nothing at all bought this year. Feels good 🙂

Sporty April Challenge

I really want to make this garment. I mean really want to make it. It is Melissa Fehrs XYT workout top. I had intended to make one for my daughter – but after my alteration binge she says she has enough exercise tops at present and so I can try it for me first. Woot woot!

(Click the picture to go to Fehr Trade patterns)

Now, I do enjoy a nice workout and have even been known to join a 5k ‘race’. I will never be the worlds fastest, nor do I want to be. That said I hate the cold wet weather we have had and have proved myself to be a dedicated warm weather exerciser. However, I am (I suppose) ‘a lady of a certain age’ and there is a family history of osteoporosis so it is in my interest to get my butt outside and jog a bit. A new top and a bit of sunshine should help things along don’t you think?

In addition to designing workout gear Melissa runs marathons, and I know will be running at this years London marathon. As my daughter is also be running this year I will be looking out for them both! Given that pedigree I think I can be assured that this workout top will be a goody. Melissa is also encouraging us all to get up and get active by posting a ‘Spring Race Challenge’.

All of the details are on her blog, and I am certainly ‘in’. I am therefore declaring the XYT top my GAM for April. Let stash diving commence!

Mad March Minoru

I am back after a short holiday with The Management in Gran Canaria to recharge my batteries with some long needed sunshine. Not only sunshine, I also managed three days scuba diving – heaven.

I'm in there somewhere....

I’m in there somewhere….

Anyway, once back I set to work on another Sewaholic Minoru Jacket which I cut out before I left. The warm, waterproof version has become my ‘go to’ jacket so another was clearly a good idea.

This version was to provide an alternative to the ‘warm’ Minoru’ for Spring (ever the optimist) and is made in a showerproof navy fabric which has been in the stash for too long to remember any details about it. It might be polyester but it feels a bit more natural so is probably a blend. I haven’t done a burn test as it was so obviously right for the circumstances it really didn’t matter what it is made from.The lining is also from stash – a very thick, densely woven polyester which meant that this was going to perform exactly as required without any additional interlining.

Minoru Front

Minoru Front

The only changes I made were to the cuff of the sleeve (as I mentioned in the last Minoru post this was the only thing I wasn’t really happy with), and used a two way zipper rather than just a separating zipper. This will help if I want to wear this in any seated position to prevent any ‘pull’ on the zipper bottom.

To change the sleeve I just drew the fold line more obviously on the cuff pattern piece and pinned that at the bottom of the sleeve piece to give the sleeve length required (don’t forget to allow the sleeve head seam allowance if you do this). The sides of the sleeve obviously wont match the cuff piece now so all I did was draw in a line from the cuff to the underarm and cut on that.When I sewed the sleeve I left a gap in the seam to insert the elastic, turned the cuff up from the fold line, sewed an edge seam to finish the edge better before making another seam to give the elastic casing. I did sew the lining to the cuff turn before I put the elastic into place as I thought that made it easier. I prefer this cuff to the original as I feel it is less bulky, but that is just personal choice and no criticism of the pattern.

Cuff changes

Cuff changes

And just for Rhonda (and anyone else really) …. a flash of the lining.

A lining flasher!

A lining flasher!

I am counting this as my garment for March as I expect to be very busy for the rest of the month doing sewing to raise funds for my darling daughter who is running in the years London marathon  on behalf of Rockinghorse Childrens Charity (her running blog here). Not so long ago I thought I had ages. All of a sudden it is nearly here….  aargh!

I will show what I am making as I do it. Apologies if I vanish for a while again….

Two Peas in a Pod

Not quite a roaring success for me – but wearable for someone smaller – maybe my daughter. I confess this is entirely my mistake as I didn’t check the ‘stretchability’ of the fabric before I cut it out. I think in a stretchier fabric this may be just fine. With one caveat.

The length. Oh dear. I did add 5cm to the pattern (before it was resized as directed in the book) but clearly with this fabric that is insufficient. It might need to be longer in any fabric. Perhaps even people who are 5’4″(petite in European sizing) would be ‘tall’ in the Pattern Magic measurements.

Anyway, I loved this pattern. Easy to make the pattern from the instructions given in the book, simple to have it resized by someone with a photocopier as clever as a room full of owls, and a breeze to sew together. This took me just over an hour to sew, including the time needed to switch the threads on the overlocker and coverstitcher. I used 4 thread overlocker for the seams, and 3 thread coverstitching round the hem and sleeves.I worked the neckline using the same method as for the draped t-shirt rather than the simple turn and sew from the book as I think that it looks better. Just personal choice. Shame it doesn’t fit!

I have had huge problems trying to upload the pictures and have given up. Find the pictures here. I will edit this post eventually to put them in but I really haven’t got the brainpower to work out whats wrong. (Ruth – have you sorted your problem. Maybe I have the same one?)

I’m not sure that The Management is impressed with this top. It was some of his comments that made me laugh while he was taking the photographs – sorry. Despite that I will be trying again in a more stretchy fabric which I hope will fit. I will be adding about 4″ to the bottom to ensure I don’t have to hold the front hem down in normal wear.

That is the two garments I had planned to make in February – completed well within time and at least one of them fits. I discovered that by pulling the hem on the draped t-shirt down to hip level it can be worn as a tunic with a belt and looks great (sorry, no photo). Also, we are almost at the end of the month and I can confirm that I have not broken my RTW fast.

I need to plan what I am going to make in March now. My daffodils have started to show flower buds, so they think spring is on the way even if I have doubts. Stash diving needed to find something appropriate.

Drape Drape OK? – The Pictures

So today the picture feature seems to be working so here we go….

Odd shape

Odd shape

As you can see the finished garment looks weird (and is a monster to fold) but that is what gives you the wonderful drape.

Neck detail

Neck detail

The instructions were to bind the neckline but I went with the easy option of a 4cm strip, folded in half, and sewn at a slight tension round the opening before anchoring with another row of stitching. Easy, fast, fine.

Back view showing fullness

Back view showing fullness


Front view - check out that neckline!

Front view – check out that neckline! 

The front view of the top doesn’t quite give the impression of how low this neckline goes as it is leaning to the back. Next version will have the neck raised by the recommended 10cm (Thanks Melissa!). The back view shows the amount of cloth in this garment – it is huge! The left sleeve is a pretty normal kimono type sleeve but the right is just a hole in the seam at the top of the  fold. I like the idea but I think that my pattern needs some attention to fitting. 

I also need to find a photographer who will mention that the back is folded up before they take the photos and clear off back to their newspaper!

I will probably wear this as I love the fabric – but I really need to try again in a different size, with a raised neckline, to see if that is better. A reasonable first draft.


February tops progress

I have enjoyed my time making the patterns for the two Japanese tops I am making as my February Garment(s) of the Month – and they really weren’t difficult.

The Drape Drape 2 book comes with the patterns included – but not in my size. In order to be able to have these enlarged at my local copy shop I did a ‘Burda’ on them and traced all three pieces on one sheet for enlargement. They were easy to trace off into one big pattern piece after that, and it is now cut out. The fabric is a piece of 4 way stretch jersey that I bought at Birmingham Rag Market. Who knows what the composition is – but I would guess at polyester rather than rayon by touch. As you can see it is another of my shy, retiring pieces. The piece was about 150cm square and the piece took almost all of the fabric.

Only one weird pattern piece

Only one weird pattern piece

The top from Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics, the Two Peas in a Pod, needed to be drawn out from the instructions in the book but that was an easy task. As I said in my last post I had graded the blocks up to my size so I knew this was going to fit. I still needed to take it to the copy shop as it is finished by increasing the size of the back piece, and decreasing the front. Again you end up with very strange looking pattern pieces but after the Morley Courses I wasn’t too put off by that.

More odd pieces

More odd pattern pieces

This fabric isn’t so stretchy – only across the grain – and is 100% Polyester jersey. It isn’t what I wanted to use but the other piece I chose wasn’t big enough. This took 130cm as that was how long the larger pattern piece is. The small piece could be cut from the remainder at the side after the back was cut out. I did add a little to the length of the original pieces as I may be a bit taller than the pattern was intended for (despite being only 5’4″). I can always shorten it again if this version is a bit long.

I really don’t think these will take too long to sew together once I get the right machines threaded ready to go. I do have other deadlines that I must meet before I start these but I hope to finish them before the end of the week.