Hey presto!

Can I just tell you how happy I am? I mean really, really happy.

I saw the pattern for Savage Cocos Presto popover top a while back on Fadanistas blog and thought it looked great, then again on Shams blog  and knew I had to buy it. I loved the simple shape, but it was different to most t-shirt style tops you see offered. Shams is a similar shape to me (but with less tummy lumps) so I knew when she made it and was happy with a fit almost straight off the basic pattern I could be in luck. This pattern turned out to be my unicorn pattern. I made the large size directly from the pattern. No changes. Not a one. What do you think?!

Presto frontage

Presto frontage


Presto reverse.


The fabric is a very fine viscose single knit jersey that I bought several weeks ago with the intention of turning it into my basic t. It is magnificently soft and was not expensive so I bought it in this cream, pale pink, and a soft peach. I knew I had previously bought t-shirts from GAP in a very similar fabric – and then remembered that they were relegated to bed wear as they felt too fine for general use. Doh!

I downloaded the PDF over the weekend and taped and traced on Monday night. I cut the fabric out yesterday after I finished client work with the intention of making it today. It took about an hour. Yes, an hour – and that included threading all three machines in the correct thread. Zippy make.


The fact that this t-shirt has a double front as part of the design meant that I had found a use for this lovely, but currently unloved fabric. I cut the back double too (though the pattern can be made up with a single back) but left the sleeves as a single layer. The collar/neckline can be left to ‘flop’ or if the fabric plays ball can be made to look like a shawl collar.

The weather here in Bewdley has turned cold and wet today so the double layer t-shirt is fabulous as it just adds a little bit of extra warmth without actually conceding that autumn may be sneaking up on us (I did see that the trees are starting to change colour on Monday). I know I have some brown merino wool jersey that I bought and decided was too fine for the project I had intended it for in the stash. I think I have just found its purpose.

I will do my best not to bore the pants off you all with this pattern but I honestly think I have struck gold. A pattern that needed no alterations. Whatever will they think of next!


T-Shirt take 2

After making the grey version of the Kristina Shin t-shirt I was pretty happy with the fit but knew there were a few minor changes I wanted to make. This week I made the alterations to the pattern and made this version in a snake print viscose jersey from stash. You may recognise it from this dress (heavens, my hair has changed).

New pattern - front view dodgy selfie!

New pattern – front view dodgy selfie!

New pattern - side view

New pattern – side view

For this version I changed the neckline shape and I am much happier. I don’t feel I look very good in a close fit ‘jewel’ neckline. I also made a very small FBA , I did not stitch what could have been a dart but eased it between markers I made on the pattern. That gives a much nicer finish when you wear it – after all, with few exceptions you don’t tend to see darts in t-shirts. I did add a little width to the front but not enough to make the front stand away from my body which was one of my main complaints about RTW. This version is also about an inch longer. Not much I admit but I think it looks better, and I am less likely to expose my waist (what waist!) if I reach up.

I am now very happy with this pattern and it has been put in a packet and filed away under winner. I will no doubt use it to make more incarnations as I really wear t-shirts a lot.

In addition to this for me, and client work which is going pretty well at the moment, I decided I really needed to finish off some of the organisation that I had started. Years ago I started to copy the pages in Burda which showed the tech drawings of the patterns for that month so that I could search without having to get all the magazines out (though that can be fun!). Whilst I can rarely use a Burda pattern straight from the sheets I do occasionally use the instruction booklet to see what the shape of the pattern pieces is so that I have some help with pattern cutting from my own blocks. I don’t subscribe to Burda anymore so it was a finite task, and one that I knew wouldn’t take too long.

BUrda magazines and tech drawing folder.

BUrda magazines and tech drawing folder.

Result! All of the magazines are now collected into one box and the necessary pictures are in a folder . Picture me on the sofa with my Burda folder for inspiration, and the stash folder (which I really must get on with again, not finished yet) to check to see if I have something to make the desired garment in. Sounds pretty organised – I wonder if it will actually work.


I have another project planned now and will get back as soon as I have something to show you.


Vogue 2948 finished

Finished – but again I am not entirely happy with the result. I think part of the problem is that they have taken an unreasonably long time for ‘a pair of pants/trousers’. You might remember that I have been watching the Craftsy course ‘Pant fitting’ by Sandra Betzina. This Vogue pattern is in new sizing which relates better to todays figures (hence the name) but that didn’t mean that it would match everyone. That means me. Again.

The Craftsy course is pretty comprehensive, and I found it easy to follow the alterations that were demonstrated. I think that the Craftsy platform is pretty good, even if (or especially if) you are fairly new to sewing or pattern alteration as you can watch the video lessons as many times as you need to, and also ask questions which should be answered by the tutor. The whole course is worked around Vogue 2948 (included in the cost of the course) which is an ideal trouser for adjustment since it has princess seams and a yoke. The more seams available the easier a garment is to adjust.

I cut the size that appeared to fit my hips, having adjusted the pattern to be larger around my waist. All looked well, and I tried them on with the sides tacked to fit. CLOWN PANTS! I really couldn’t believe it – these were big. I checked the original pattern pieces and whilst I could find the finished waist size (3cm ease allowed) and the finished length I couldn’t find the finished hip size. Maybe I was just losing heart by then. One of the things that is stressed throughout the course is to avoid ‘over fitting’ – ie. taking out all the wearing ease to give a ‘skin fit’. We have all seen people wearing clothes like this and it is never a good look. Anyhow, I repinned and sewed the seams, fitting the zipper and just wanting to get this project to finish. (More haste…). See what you think.

Front - lightened to show better

Front – lightened to show better

Back - I didn't see those drag lines until now!

Back – I didn’t see those drag lines until now!

Lots of hip space!

Lots of hip space!

The fabric wasn’t expensive – this was intended as a wearable muslin – it is a basket weave polyester that I found in the £2 a meter pile at Barrys in Birmingham. These are good enough to wear, but not anywhere ‘special’. I am not sure what I was doing here – the pattern by size and adjustment should have been OK but it looks as if I have made them to grow into and I would rather not if you don’t mind! I hadn’t used a side zipper in pants (rarely in skirts either) and find I don’t really like it. I could try these again with the back zipper option but I don’t think I like the pattern enough to do so.

Polly-cotton (sorry!) trial available in size 16. Matching bias included.

Polly-cotton (sorry!) trial available in size 16. Matching bias included.

Since I was a bit fed up after making these I decided to have a bash at a quick project. Step up ‘ By Hand London’ Polly top. This looked perfect for my shape as I could make a top that fitted well over my bust but easily take in at the waist/hip so that it didn’t poke out in front. Again the sizes didn’t match me at all. I chose a bust, then the waist was up one size, and the hips went down two sizes from the waist. The finished measures looked better – the bust was the largest size, going down one for waist, and down again for hip. I printed, taped, traced off my size (Pffft!) and then went ahead in the scrap I had found to try out. Can I just say I am currently feeling deformed. I love the pattern, and it is clearly a very popular choice around blogland, but it isn’t for me. If anyone out there would like the taped PDF (and the white/blue poly trial in a 16) let me know and I will send it out happily.

Rather than going through lots of full bust alterations in order to make commercial patterns fit properly I have decided to get back to pattern cutting. I use this to make the patterns for my clients so it is about time I sorted my own blocks out again and got on with making my own patterns to fit my own clearly unique shape!

For anyone who doesn’t have a pattern cutting background and wants a great site to find out how to alter patterns for a full bust head over to Communing with Fabric where Shams (who has a very similar body shape to me) has already done a sterling job in explaining what is needed.

Where is May going?

I can barely believe that it is already the 18th May. It has been busy here Chez Hood, and in addition to client work I have had a wonderful house guest as my dear old Mother-In-Law has been to stay. Now that is all wonderful, we even had a trip to Stratford to see Henry IV Part 1 at the RSC (Wonderful dahlings!) with dinner after, but it isn’t getting my sewing done.

I have made a start watching the wonderful Kenneth D Kings Jeanius course, and I have to say I am enjoying it enormously. Quite a lot of what I have seen is basic practice when you have been sewing for decades but you never stop learning – and few sewers think they don’t need to know any more. Sewing is the sort of thing where it is always possible to learn something both new and amazing. Sadly, I haven’t got any further than watching (but I hope to get the trousers prepared for copying this week – honest!).

Sleeve detail (The Management said 'Ready for take off' at this pose. Beast)

Sleeve detail (The Management said ‘Ready for take off’ at this pose. Beast)

Back view

Back view

However, I did make another incarnation of the Drape Drape t-shirt that was so nearly right – but not quite. I made the adaptions to the pattern soon after the last effort was made so that I didn’t forget anything I wanted to do. That meant that I was ready to go as soon as I found a suitable stretch fabric to make up. A trip to Birmingham (whilst collecting the aforementioned MIL from her train) meant I was able to buy a suitable, but not expensive – this was still a try out – fabric. Once settled with pattern pressed flat (yes, I folded it for storage) and fabric ready I think this project was done in under 2 hours using the overlocker and coverstitcher.  I raised the neckline 10cm which means it is now decent (although if you aren’t careful you could probably still ‘flash’), and reduced the size overall. I wish I could say how I did that but I’m afraid it was just a bit of ‘fiddling’ with the original copy shop print. I had traced two sizes onto the piece I took to be enlarged and this incarnation is around the smaller size – but with some alterations. I will never be able to repeat the pattern if I lose the one I now have!

The fabric is just a four way stretch polyester jersey in another of my ‘shy, retiring’ prints! The lady in the shop has also bought this with the intention of making a holiday garment. I have to say it is perfect sunshine clothing, and I suspect this will be washed and worn to death over this coming summer.(Yes I know, I am an optimist but I am sure this will be a good one!).

The Management has just left for a week overseas so I am hoping to get loads done this week. Watch this space. And if you see me with a cup of tea and a book please remind me of the list of jobs that are waiting for me 🙂

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.


Drape Drape OK?

I have finished the one piece draped t-shirt from Drape Drape 2 detailed in my last post – and I like it. I just don’t love it. I made the pattern in the size indicated by my body measurements but I think it might have been better a little smaller. I know that Melissa commented in this post that she made this up in the largest pattern provided (despite her also thinking she needed a larger size) and it was fine.

At the moment I can’t get the pictures to work on this post but I will update as soon as I can. The one major comment I would make is that the neckline on  this is low. Like really low. Just in case you were about to cut out. Check it. Twice.

Hopefully there will be more to show tomorrow if I can get the photos to work. The peas are waiting – I hope that doesn’t suffer the same size issues. (Maybe I am just making things to grow into?)