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.


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.

February GAM – Turning Japanese!

Well, I managed to complete the garment for January in good time so I feel fairly chuffed. In addition to that I succeeded in staying out of the stores and didn’t but any RTW clothing at all in January – not even tights or other small sundries – so I am very happy. The Minoru jacket I made was almost entirely completed from stash  fabric. The only purchases made for that project were the Thinsulate interlining, the NIKWAX wash in waterproofing, and some seam sealing tape. Very satisfying.

Now, on to February. I have long enjoyed looking through all of the Pattern Magic books, and now the Drape Drape options which are growing on my bookshelf. I have been slightly put off making from the books because they seemed somewhat unwearable (particularly for a lady of my size and vintage!) but after spending all that money on the darn books, and doing two courses at Morley College (which I can strongly recommend by the way) I really feel it is time to make something I will actually wear. So….

A very wearable draped t-shirt.

A very wearable draped t-shirt.

Odd - but nicely so.

Odd – but nicely so.

For February I am proposing to make two garments. GASP! I have decided to make the strange but lovely ‘Two peas in a pod – A’ from the Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics book (don’t ask how long I have had this!), and Model 4 ‘One piece scoop neck asymmetrical top’ from Drape Drape 2 which my sister bought me for Christmas. In fairness the bulk of the work is in the patterns with these tops – once the patterns have been drawn out the sewing should take very little time. Again there is a however. I am nowhere near the dinky little Japanese sizes. Nothing like.

Thankfully ‘The Management’ is very mathematical as I am useless and he has shown me how to work out how to work out how much I need to have the patterns included in the Drape Drape 2 book I was given for Christmas need to be enlarged. This means that I can just trace off the largest size and ask for them to be reproduced at a larger % at the copy shop. Easy. I hope.

For anyone else mathematically challenged with the same size difficulties here is the way I was shown to get the size to ask for.

Divide your actual measurement by the pattern measurement and then multiply by 100. This should give you a number greater than 100 which will be the percentage to ask for from the copy shop. For example: (Increasing 2 sizes from books largest option)

Actual measurement (98)                 ÷ 100   = 109%

Pattern Measurement (90)

In principal this should be easy to do, tracing off only the size you want to use. Don’t forget that any included seam allowances will also be increased by the extra percentage so it will be worth drawing in the pattern excluding seam allowances pre  copying.

The Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics isn’t quite so easy as the patterns aren’t included. The blocks included suffer from the same ‘tiny model’ problem that applies to the pattern in Drape Drape. I have spent an afternoon grading them up to my enormous size (seriously – this makes me feel like something out of Gulliver’s Travels!) and the pattern adaption is very simple once you have a block that is your size. Again this needs to be taken to someone who has a clever copier that can make the increase/decrease needed for each piece. The calculations are given in the book to enable you to do this yourself but I am more than happy to pay for this to be done. It is more likely to be somewhere close to where it should be if I don’t do it!

I haven’t done any stash diving yet but I know that there should be a few options available to try these out. Only 24 days left to do this 🙂

Especially for Rhonda who asked me to flash the Minoru lining…..



….(The Management says I look like a Vulcan bomber preparing for take off. Beast.)

Another (Pattern) Magic weekend at Morley

I am slightly sad to have finished the Pattern Magic Stretch Fabric course at Morley College now – it was such a good experience and a lovely group to be in.

We all continued on Saturday morning cutting the pattern of our choice – Moni demonstrated the lovely Loophole B (which I have been admiring for some time) which several of us drafted. I was particularly happy because Claire had spent some time in the week between classes using her computer wizardry to grade the tiny Japanese sizes provided in the book up to a more ‘western’ size. It is actually quite sad to be a several ‘x’ l size when I have been working so hard at the gym to improve, but I was more interested in going home with a pattern I could actually use for myself. Thanks Claire!

We all worked pretty hard, and got through vast amounts of pattern drafting paper in what was an epic cutting and sticking session! We were all so devoted we missed our break but were very much ready for lunch when the time came round. Melissa, Claire, Tracy and I went for lunch at Wahaca. I hadn’t experienced Wahaca before and thoroughly enjoyed lunch – and although we all ended up with unbelievably messy hands we managed to keep our clothes clean!

Having completed our patterns after lunch we were all encouraged to toile as many different garments (as a class) as we could so that we got a wider overview of the work we had completed. I really wanted to make the pattern that would (I hoped) fit so I made Loophole B. Others made the crescent moon, Sharp and Snappy C, Apple peel leggings, and Jutting Edge. Sorry I didn’t manage to photograph them all.

Jutting edge - tucked in to make a lovely cowl effect

Jutting edge – tucked in to make a lovely cowl effect

Moni sampled the Jutting edge dress and tucked the ‘jut’ inside to give a lovely cowl effect. It really made a different look and made the dress very desirable. I can see a few of these being made by the weekends students.

Melissa in her Sharp and Snappy C

Melissa in her Sharp and Snappy

Melissa made up the Sharp and Snappy C which looked really fun. She refers to this as the ‘Stegosaurus top’ which really works well as a description. By tucking the points inside you get a line of funny little pockets – useful on a night out. I presume you will be making this to wear on another occasion Melissa?

Claire models the Loophole B

Claire models the Loophole B

As Claire had been so kind and allowed me to use her graded block it seemed only fair that she tried the Loophole B toile that I finished  (we were using the same size). She looked better in the photograph than me so here she is! I really like this and will probably try it in another fabric that can be worn as a ‘real’ garment. Fun, different, but also very wearable. Thanks Claire!

Crescent Moon

Crescent Moon

I have to make an apology, I didn’t get the name of the lady who made up the Crescent Moon. It looks really good from the front but there is a whole lot of fabric drooping on the back. I am not quite so sure of it’s wear-ability now – but maybe in a very light fabric it would work better. It is such a simple idea, and very quick to make, that I may just have to try it sometime.

This was a brilliant, and enormously enjoyable course which I am hugely glad I took. This book really holds no fear for me now, and I am much more confident about attacking any of the other patterns from the other books in this series. There are more Pattern Magic courses to be held at Morley next year, but I think I will have to wait until another book in the series is published before going back. Maybe I ought to try one of their other courses?

After the course finished I had tea with my daughter in her work break (Egyptian street food since you ask – very nice!) before going to see Gatsby in Leicester Square. What a great day.

Sunday started early with a walk around Ealing, where my daughter lives, but I was unable to go far as I have a sore knee at the moment (more about that in another post – and yes, it is relevant to sewing).  Darling J, who didn’t really cook at all when she lived with us, cooked me a lovely breakfast before we went to the V&A to see the Bowie exhibition. Boy, have I been looking forward to that! Inevitably it was packed full, so it was a bit difficult to see all the exhibits, but I really enjoyed it. There is almost too much to see – and I loved all of the costumes that were on show. Some of them were made by the Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto, so I felt that this really tied the weekend together. There was one particular suit with pointed shoulders, in a brown(?) snakeskin effect which was so Pattern Magic I was stopped in my tracks. I have been trying to find a picture but have not been able to get one – and no photographs were allowed in the V&A so I couldn’t take it there. All wonderful. Go if you can before it closes.

After enjoying all that the only thing to do was go and have lunch sitting outside in the sunshine, eating the best pizza that Ealing (and possibly the UK) has to offer at Santa Maria. So good, and heartbreaking that I couldn’t eat it all – but they did pack it to take away. I can strongly recommend a visit if you are in the area. I will be back for more next time I see my daughter!

The drive back home was actually very easy – no delay from the British Grand Prix traffic that I was anticipating. Guess what The Management had for me when I got home? Chinese food. So the weekends eating consisted of Mexican, Egyptian, Italian, and Chinese. Not a bad weekend 🙂

Pattern Magic (Stretch Fabrics) at Morley

I can report that I had a truly wonderful day at Morley College on Saturday on the Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics course – with another day lined up this Saturday. This course is designed to help us through the mysteries that are within Pattern Magic Stretch Fabrics, and is more than ably taught by Monisola Omotoso who informed us that we would be making three patterns that day. It was hard not to think she was being over ambitious – but guess what? All three patterns completed!

I knew that Melissa (of Fehr Trade – if you haven’t been there why the devil not?) would be there, and she was able to tell me that I would meet The Material Girl there too. How about that! It was a fairly big class at 14 students but it didn’t feel too cramped – and Moni seems to have super powers and was able to sort all of us out seemingly effortlessly (she probably had to have a large glass of something to recover when she got home but didn’t show it).

Somewhere through the day I had a light-bulb moment and things fell into place. Having spent months looking blankly at these books this is fabulous, and something I will be celebrating. Honestly people, if I can get there you can too. If you are still struggling and can get to London I can strongly recommend the courses at Morley.

The patterns we drew out were:

Crescent Moon

Crescent Moon

This is one of my favourites from the book and it was actually ridiculously easy to make this pattern. I will be making this for myself at some point in the (hopefully) not too distant future. I can see it being worn for smart occasions, but just as easily with jeans.

Sharp and Snappy!

Sharp and Snappy!

I wasn’t quite so certain about this one but it is kinda growing on me – I’m not sure The Management would be happy if I wore this though. Maybe fewer points?

Jutting Edge

Jutting Edge

Another that I wouldn’t have chosen myself but I am really starting to like this idea – and I suspect it would be useful in disguising the excess around the tummy area. Maybe. Possibly. I am sold enough to give it a try at some point. Boy, that wish list gets longer every post!

The day was made even better because my darling daughter met for lunch. As a runner she has known Melissa through the Daily Mile site for some time, but this was the first time they had met in person. We had a lovely lunch at The Three Stags and got back to complete the afternoon a little late. Sorry Moni!

After last Saturday these books no longer have the ‘fear factor’ that they had. I think just being elsewhere and with nothing else to distract me helped, but knowing that Moni was on call if I got in difficulties was a real bonus! I really want to draw out a couple of the others that I have been lusting over for months (pretty much since I got the book really) and I now really think I can. I am looking forward to next Saturday so we can actually toile some of the patterns. Should be very interesting.

Watch this space for future Magic!



Time off with Shakespeare – and booty!

What can I say – that Management had booked this week off work. I still had more work than I could shake a stick at – but we also had theater tickets to see ‘As You Like It’  at the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon. So he booked a night away.

We started off the day with a visit to a National Trust house called Snowshill Manor which had been owned by someone who was ‘A Collector’ – he would probably have been a candidate for one of those TV programmes for ‘hoarders’ you see now – but in fact it was a lovely house and he had in fact collected with a certain mindfulness. I found a fabulous sewing basket – the sort we all want – full of all sorts of goodies.

Wonderful sewing box!

Wonderful sewing box!

I had already discovered that there was an exhibition of costume in the Swan Theater so was looking forward to that after seeing the production – no time before as we had booked a lovely evening meal at the Rooftop Restaurant. We walked back into town this morning and I was able to walk round almost alone.

RSC Costume exhibition

RSC Costume exhibition

Lots of information

Lots of information

Lovely samples

Lovely samples

I am really not going to be able to do this justice without overloading you with photographs – I have taken more but just can’t justify putting them all in here – so I will choose just a few which show the variety available.

Inside a doublet (specially made for the exhibition)

Inside a doublet (specially made for the exhibition)

Inside a boned bodice

Inside a boned bodice

Emphasis had been made on showing the work of the costume department in the making of garments for each production, how they were cared for during the production (washed and steamed after each performance – in an real live washing machine!), and the work of the wardrobe creators, and the dressers who help change the actors during the performance.

Dressers tool kit

Dressers tool kit

There was also a dressing up area which looked great fun but I was totally overwhelmed and couldn’t do it!

Dressing up box!

Dressing up box!

There were also costumes spread around the theater, which was a great way of decorating bits of ‘dead space’ – and an absolute gift for me.I think my favorite was this dress which was made out of leather gloves (some still had the little pearl buttons attached!)

Lots of gloves - and a great bodice!

Lots of gloves – and a great bodice!

This was a great morning out – and one that anyone with an interest in sewing and costume would thoroughly enjoy. However, I would only recommend going if you were combining it with a trip to see a play – it probably doesn’t justify a trip to Stratford on it’s own unless you live very close to the RSC.



I also did a little shopping. I found a lovely little sewing/knitting shop called Sew Me Something where I picked up a new tape measure (am I the only person who wears the print off tape measures?), a couple of meters of lovely leopard print tape, and the Sewaholic Minoru pattern that I have been promising myself ever since I saw it on Karen from Did You Make That? blog. I also found a novel I have wanted for a while and a copy of Grace Coddingtons memoirs which only cost me £2.50 in a second hand book shop! Happy Hoody! I would offer you some of that delicious Peanut Brittle but since the bag was opened it seems to be vanishing….

We were back by tea time, and I must get back to sewing tomorrow but on Saturday I will be going to Morley College for the Pattern Magic Stretch fabric course. Can’t wait! I will tell all on Monday.

Pattern Magic Sleeve draft

I spent a long time putting off making the ‘Collar with two distinct expressions’ because I really wanted this to me a completely ‘Magic’ garment – it wouldn’t have felt quite right to ‘frankenpattern’ this with a tried and tested shirt pattern – although it would have been much easier to just use the neck/collar measure from a known pattern and draft to fit. Anyhow….. I struggled with the sleeve. Yes, the information to make the block is in the book (page 40) – but it seemed to be missing some important information. Or else I am just dense. (Probably the latter).

Pattern Magic sleeve draft

I understood that I needed a centre line which was 55cm long (although this would vary according to what you wanted the final sleeve length to be) with a line at right angles 14.5 cm from the top. I did think that this may make the sleeve head a bit shallow and after checking my own Winnie Aldrich block  found it wasn’t too far out so went with it.

The next instruction was to draw the shape of the sleeve cap. I was lost. What was the measurement of the horizontal line? I went and contemplated with tea and biscuits. Still not really sure of what to do I measured the armhole of the Bunka block to find out how big the cap should be. On my block the front and back armholes were equal at 25cm , so that was the measurement I used to make a diagonal line that went from the top point and met the horizontal line at 25cm. After I drew in the shaping, using the curve guides in the book, I was very happy (and not a little shocked)  to find that I had 2cm ease which I knew would go well into the armhole using a blouse fabric. I was also happy to find that the width was my top arm + 5cm ease.

At this point you could just draw lines down from the horizontal line (top arm) to the wrist or follow the book instructions for a more shaped sleeve. After my short course at Morley I was able to understand the pattern symbols – it had been unclear before then – and was able to understand that where sections had the same symbol they should also have the same measurement.

Pattern Magic sleeve draft

The only change I made to the bottom section of the sleeve was to move the dart from the wrist to the elbow point. This makes a much less obvious dart, and also much smaller.

In conclusion, I was happy with the way this sleeve turned out. It fitted into the Bunka bodice  block that I had drawn in college very well and without too much fiddling. The only balance points you have to work with are the centre of the sleeve cap and the seam at underarm point but that didn’t cause any problems.

I have to say right now that this method isn’t necessarily the correct way of making this sleeve block -only the way that worked for me. I not a teacher, or a professional pattern cutter but I know I would have appreciated the opportunity to see how someone else had managed this. I hope I don’t cause offense by showing my method – and I would be very happy to see if anyone else has used another method which worked for them.

I am less intimidated by the Pattern Magic books now and I am looking forward to trying more of the designs when I get the opportunity.