Posted in Sewing

Completed: Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers

There is this common belief amongst sewing people, especially those new to sewing, that trousers are difficult to make.

Where this has come from, I have no idea. Let’s get one thing clear here – trousers are easy!

One of the first sewing patterns people try their hand at – and one I always get my GCSE textiles class to start with – is pyjama bottoms.  A pair of trousers is really not that much different.


That being said, I rarely make trousers. Not because they are difficult to make but, jeans aside, I just don’t really like wearing them. I tend to wear dresses and skirts which err on the side of vintage throughout the week and jeans or (forgive me, fashion police) jeggings on the weekend.

But I have had this Sew Over It Ultimate Trouser Pattern in my collection for ages now. Years. So I put it on my #2017makenine list to encourage me to make it.


I decided to make a toile for this pattern. Like I said, trousers are not particularly difficult, but you will probably need to do a few tweaks to get the perfect fit. And let’s face it, a saggy bum is never a good look.

For my toile I cut a UK size 12, my usual size in Sew Over It patterns, and this resulted in a pretty good fit on my hips and legs. I have quite chunky thighs though, so if you have slim legs you might find that you need to grade the leg seams in a little. The size 12 waist was much too big for me though and I ended up taking a good two inches off the side seams and a further half inch off the centre front and centre back seams.


To make these adjustments I tried the trousers on, inside out, and simply used pins and a pen to mark out the excess fabric. I then transferred the adjustments to my paper pattern pieces.

Onto the actual garment…

As well as not being much of a trouser wearer, I’m also really not at all keen on prints on trousers, so I went with a basic black cotton with a bit of a stretch for my trousers.


But then, the more the more I thought about it, I just could not see myself ever wearing a pair of plain black trousers.  My boyfriend even suggested, quite rightly, that I was just making them for the sake of it. They’re just not my style at all. So I decided to hack the pattern a little to create more of a cropped 1950’s capri pant style with little side vents at the bottom of the legs.

And just look how cute they are!


The fit is just perfect – seriously my bum has never looked so good in a pair of ready to wear trousers – and I love that they now have a bit of a vintage touch to them. This is much more my style.


I have not worn them yet but I will do, just as soon as it gets warm enough for me to flash some ankle. I can see these becoming a favourite in my spring/summer work day wardrobe.


And if you’re reading this and you are one of those who has always been too scared to tackle trousers, just do it, they honestly are a lot easier than you think.

Posted in Knitting, Sewing, Teaching

Some works in progress

Hello again!

Is it just me or has this week absolutely flown by? I can’t believe it is Sunday already and I am back in the classroom tomorrow. Not that I am complaining, it means I am getting closer to my half term break or as I like to think of it -a one week sewcation! I am planning a whole week around fabric shopping trips, textiles exhibitions, sewing classes, learning some new skills and, obviously, sewing up some new patterns. Three weeks to go and I literally can not wait!

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Planning a visit to the Josef Frank exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum, London.

I don’t have any finished projects to show you this week but I have got a few things on my cutting table.

First up: I am making my first ever jacket. Eeeeeep! I am making the Colette Patterns Anise Jacket as the second of my #2017makenine makes.

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I’ve had this pattern for a couple of years now but have always lacked the confidence to tackle it, in case I mess it up. I’ve stopped thinking that way now though and Operation Anise has begun.

I love the sixties shape of this jacket and that it tapers in gently at the waist, while still having that boxy thing going on. I made a toile, cutting a size 8, and that didn’t throw up any fitting issues at all. (I’ve had Colette patterns fit me with no alterations before so this wasn’t a huge surprise). So this week I have sourced and cut out all the fabric pieces.

Finding the right fabric was a bit tricky to be honest. This jacket is for the spring time so I didn’t want it to be made from a wool or anything that would be too thick and warm. But obviously it needed to be made from something substantial.

I settled on this blue cotton and raffia tweed paired with vintage silk for the lining – both from Fabric Godmother.

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All the pieces are now cut out and I’m itching to get started on it this week. There are a lot of firsts for me in this jacket – first jacket, first time sewing with silk, first time underlining, first welt pockets, first bound button holes – but I am not scared. Bring it on!

Also on my cutting table this week is the New Look 6341 made in a bright red  and white floral linen from Minerva.

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I am making this as part of a two-part tutorial on princess seams I am doing for the Minerva Crafts blog. I can’t share too much about it just yet but here is a sneaky peek of the fabric.

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Finally, I have a new project on my knitting needles. I am test knitting a beautiful new cowl pattern by Rochelle at Lucky Lucille. More details about this coming soon but she is a beauty. You are definitely going to want to knit this!

In other news, my GCSE class have started their textiles coursework this week. A class of 23 girls and one boy tackling sewing patterns for the first time. It’s fun. Chaotic but fun. And my A-level class are busily finishing off their current projects before starting to prepare for their final exam. I’ll share some of their work in a future post but it really is stunning. One of my girls was offered a place to study fashion and textiles at the University of East London this week. I was so incredibly proud of her that I burst into tears when she told me. Textiles teaching is a very emotional career!

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress

I was back at work this week and finding it a bit of a struggle getting out bed while it is still dark outside. But, early mornings aside, I’ve spent much of the week sewing and drawing. Not that different to my holidays really except this week I have been sewing with children  in a classroom instead of in my living room with kittens!

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I decided to kick off my 2017 sewing with a nice easy project and one that I have been meaning to make for a long time now – Sew Over It’s Ultimate Shift Dress – made from a fab geometric print cotton from Minerva Crafts.

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I have sewn a couple of Sew Over It patterns before – the Ultimate Wrap Dress and the Ultimate Pencil Skirt – and I am a bit of a sucker for their retro packaging. The instructions are always really clear and it doesn’t hurt that I seem to fit their measurements perfectly,  so there are hardly any alterations to make.

The Ultimate Shift Dress is marketed as a beginner friendly pattern and it really is. Apart from maybe a Tilly & the Buttons Coco, I don’t think I have ever made an easier dress.

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There are a few style variations within the pattern, including different sleeve lengths and the option of turning it into a top. I went for the standard dress length, with short sleeves. Once again I found that this SOI pattern suits my measurements almost straight from the packet. The only alterations I made were to raise the bust darts by 2cm and to add an extra cm to the width of the sleeve to accommodate my chunky upper arms.

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It could not be easier to put together.

It is basically a front piece with bust darts and two back pieces, sewn together with a centre back seam. Plus set in sleeves and facings. There are no zips in the dress, but instead a hook and eye closure and cute little key hole opening.  I actually love this type of fastening. If you can pull your eyes away from my weird hairline,  it looks really elegant, no?

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I have quite a curvy figure and, being a medium weight fabric, the dress hangs off my boobs rather than skims my curves. So for me I think it looks a lot more flattering if I wear it belted. But for someone with less boobage I think it is such a great sixties shape when worn without a belt.

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This dress took about two hours to make – that’s including overlocking all of the pattern pieces and hand sewing the hem. A quick and easy make to start off the new year and the first of my #2017makenine projects completed!

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Posted in Blog, Knitting, Lifestyle, Sewing

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

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I love the start of a new year – empty diaries, endless self improvement lists and so much hope for the coming year.  I wasn’t actually planning on setting any resolutions this year, but who am I trying to kid?! I can’t resist a bit of goal setting.

So, in no particular order, here are a few of my goals for 2017:-

1. Be a happy blogger.

When I started this blog just a few months ago,  I had no real plans or hopes for it. It was just meant to be an extension of my Instagram account really. A place where I could share photos and a few details of what I have been making. I pretty much told myself that there are enough sewing bloggers already and what could I possibly have to say that is not already being said plenty of times over. But now I realise that this doesn’t matter. I am doing this for me and if anyone else is inspired by it then even better. I really like writing this blog and I am having so much fun documenting all of my makes and interacting with other bloggers.  Also, and this is the big goal for me, I am particularly keen on using this blog to showcase handmade fashion forward clothing for the slightly older woman. I am 40 years-old and I hate it whenever anyone says ‘it’s a bit too young for you.’ I firmly believe that we can all wear what we damn well like at any age. I want to show my readers how to do that with a handmade wardrobe. If I happen to inspire anyone while I am at it then I will consider it a job well done. 

2. Commit to #2017makenine

If you follow me on Instagram you may have already seen that I have pledged to take part in Lucy Lucille‘s 2017 make nine. This is an initiative to make nine garments over the course of the year, with the focus on slow fashion.

In all honesty I hope to make a lot more than nine garments this year but these are the ones at the top of my list – either because I have had the pattern in my collection for ages or because it is a new skill and challenge for me.

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  • Top row, l-r  – Gertie’s Princess Seam Bodice Dress; Sew Over it Ultimate Trousers; Sew Over it Ultimate Shift Dress.
  • Middle row, l-r – Hermione Everyday socks; M Madalynne Bra (Simplicity 8229); Colette Patterns Anise Jacket
  • Bottom row, l-r – Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress; Slopes Pullover; I Knit London Brioche Kit Scarf

3.  Take part in #sewmystyle

Have you heard of this? It is basically a year-long sew-along starting this month. It has been organised by Alex from Bluebird Fabrics and aims to raise awareness about the pitfalls of fast fashion. They have selected 12 patterns, one for every month of the year and the goal is that by the end of the you will have your own little capsule wardrobe.

Starting with this piece for January – the Toaster Sweater (v2) by Sew House Seven.

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Such a lovely idea and, while I don’t think I am going to take part every month, I am pleased to be joining in for January at least. 

I will finish with a couple of resolutions that are not sewing related…

4. Get fit

2016 was the year in which I lost a lot of weight through Weight Watchers. Give or take the few pounds I have put back on over the holidays, I have lost around 20lbs in the last year. I am now a UK size 10 and, even though it is far from perfect, I  have a body that I no longer want to disguise under baggy ill fitting clothes. But I haven’t done any exercise while I was losing the weight and it’s all a bit flabby and out of shape. This year I want to get fitter, stronger and make the best of the body I have. Hmmm, maybe I could make some new gym clothes as an incentive!

5. Save

I have been a bit too spendy this past year. I really want to put an end to this and start saving more regularly. This means a halt on fabric and yarn shopping until I have used up some of my stash.  I have put it in writing so I have to do it now!

I could write a load more goals for the year but I think that is probably enough for now.