Birthday leather iPad case

Yesterday was my birthday, and I wanted to start the year off right, so I got up early and ran the Sport Relief 6 mile run down on The Mall, and I’m happy to report that I ran a new PB of 46:38 for the 10k! Though I have my doubts as to whether the course was entirely accurate, since this is a full 5 minutes faster than before…

Then I came home and enjoyed the glorious sunshine, cupcakes, and the pressies James had in store for me – luscious new Wolfords, a beautiful hardback copy of Habibi, and a cool lunchbag that mimics the old school brown paper bags.

Oh, but there was one more thing…

So of course I had to sew a case for it!

I wanted something more classy than crafty, so I used bronze/black leather from the obi belt (which I actually hardly wear and is too big now!) and it’s lined with black sweatshirting leftover from James’s sweatshirt from a few Christmases ago.

I measured up the ipad and then cut the leather to be two conjoined rectangles of 21cmx26cm, plus about 6cm more length on one side for a closing flap, plus a facing (only because I didn’t have enough leather to do a self-facing

I used long strips of velcro (sewn on) for the closure, making sure the soft loops are on the flap so the iPad doesn’t get scratched as you slide it in!

My birthday animal-print Cycling Top

Happy 39th birthday to me! (And coincidentally to Rosie DIY Couture, though I don’t think she’s as old as me!) Yesterday was my birthday, and thank you so much to everyone who wished me well on social media – I’d planned to get this post up on the day itself, but I ended up spending my day packing and hefting boxes as we moved into the temporary flat we’ll be living in while the boat is being renovated! We only really took these photos as we were loading my bike into the rental van to move it to the flat (you can even see it in one of the shots!) so please forgive that the photos aren’t as clear or comprehensive as usual – they were taken very quickly on my phone on a very tiring day!

Every year I like to make myself something special to celebrate my birthday, and often these garments get so closely tied in my memory to that time in my life that I still refer to my green silk dress as “my 30th birthday dress”, for instance, and it means I get to do a bit of selfish sewing for myself, too!

This year I decided to make something I’ve been planning for months and months – ever since I bought a length of pale pink & lavender leopard (or is it cheetah?) spotted activewear fabric from Stoff & Stil in Oslo back in November. I then realised I hadn’t bought quite enough to make the Cycling Top I had envisioned in my head, so I had to order another meter from Stoff & Stil online, which ended up being from a slightly different dye lot (it’s only noticeable if you get really close!).

The ombre denim Gimlet birthday dress

Happy (slightly belated) 38th birthday to meeeeeeeee!

My birthday was on Saturday and, after the stinker that was last year, I had a blast! I have a tradition where I like to sew myself something special to celebrate the occasion, and this year I decided to make myself a cocktail dress – rather fitting since I invited my friends out for cocktails on Friday to our favourite little whisky bar.

I’ve been utterly enchanted with the Gimlet dress pattern from the moment Capital Chic released it. Granted, Sally is a friend and I respect her work and design aesthetic so much, but this dress in particular was just too “me” not to make! I mean – sheath dress (tick), asymmetric (tick). And that’s pretty much all I need to add it to my To Sew list, ha!

My birthday jeans

It’s my birthday today! And I’m in New York City!!

We usually take a Spring holiday, but not til later in April or May, however this year James suggested we go away to New York over my birthday, since we haven’t been for four years and there were some shows we really wanted to see (we’ve developed an expensive immersive theater habit!). I’ve been needing a new pair of jeans for a while now, so I promised myself that I’d sew some up once the Steeplechase Leggings pattern was released and I’d have a little bit of a breather. And here they are, coinciding nicely as my birthday make this year!

This denim was bought from Ditto Fabrics, labelled as an Italian denim with very slight stretch, so I treated these as a non-stretch denim. It’s super high quality and I love the colour and wash, though like most denims, it’s still bleeding a bit of colour after two prewashes, so I’ll wash it separately for a while before sitting on any white couches.


(Apologies for the iPhone timer photos taken before I left, but I wanted to ensure I had covered the bases and it’s hard to upload images on the road without a laptop!)

I used the same base pattern as my classic pair of jeans made in 2013 (which is #120 from the April 2010 issue of Burda magazine), but my older pair is a bit too big, and also very straight in the leg and I wanted something more fitted and with a slimmer leg this time around.

I essentially made the same pattern (plus the same wedge cut out of the CB as before), but then basted the inseam and side seams to check the fit. I then decided I wanted to take out a cm at the hips and thighs to make the fit closer to “just washed jeans” to allow for some relaxing, then took out a cm from each of the side seams and inseam through the legs for a more skinny-jean silhouette.

My galaxy-print birthday sheath dress

Happy birthday to meeeeee! I hinted about it last week, but I decided to celebrate the occasion this year by sewing up something special to wear, using a fabric that I’ve lusted over for months even before I broke down and ordered it. My feeling is that if you adore the fabric or pattern (or both!) then the resulting garment is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit.

For this dress I used the Derek Lam-inspired knit sheath from the January 2014 Manequim magazine combined with the most amazing galaxy print ponte jersey which is even nicer in real life, I swear! It’s a digital print on a smooth, white ponte jersey base, and it’s both stable and stretchy, making it the bestest fabric ever (and I have just over a metre leftover! woo!).

It’s been a while since I sewed a Manequim pattern and I’ve dropped in size over the past few months of marathon training to a 42 (Burda 40), so I decided to sew up a muslin of this first to test the fit. The resulting turquoise ponte muslin was very close fitting, and I wasn’t entirely certain at first whether it was too tight, or utterly perfect. So I lounged around in it for a day, decided it was comfortable enough, then cracked on with the final version without any pattern changes.

The final version is definitely tighter than the muslin, though, and I’m fairly certain it’s down to adding the lining layer, even though it’s stretchy! You can definitely see some horizontal pulls in the dress showing it’s a tad too tight, and it’s a struggle to get that waist seam on and off over my boobs, but one it’s on, it’s not uncomfortable, thankfully!

The pattern is really simple – a front bodice with both vertical and horizontal bust darts, back bodice with long vertical darts, raglan cap sleeves, and a skirt pattern with vertical waist darts (the same skirt pattern is used for both front and back). The pattern calls for a long invisible zipper, but as I could easily get the muslin dress on and off without it, I was going to leave it off the finished version, too…

…until I discovered the most perfect purple, metal teeth zipper in my stash! So then I decided I had to use it and make it an exposed zipper feature instead. It was a bit shorter than I’d have liked, but it reached exactly to the waist seam, which worked out nicely visually (though for ease of getting in and out of it, a longer zipper would’ve been much better!).

My Matthew Williamson birthday dress

Thank you all so much for your patience! I finished sewing this dress in time for my 34th birthday on Monday (and I proved it by showing you dressform photos and talking in depth about the construction process!) but such a rich, dark colour really requires daylight to shoot properly, and today was the first opportunity we’ve had.

Another reason I wanted some great photos of this is because it’s an incredible pattern with some seriously striking design lines and beautiful details, and frankly, it deserves to be seen properly! In fact, it’s a true designer pattern, and from Matthew Williamson, no less! It was printed in the September 2012 issue of Burda magazine, but you can still purchase it as a pdf download if you missed it and want to make your own!

I made mine in some lusciously soft and supple “Ravissant Duchess Satin Plum” that’s been in my stash for three years just waiting for the perfect use, and paired it with a floral lining fabric gifted to me from Veronica when I was in Paris last Spring. Personally, I think these two make the most perfect pairing, even if it’s only me who sees the inside!

As I said on Monday, this pattern is a step up from the usual Burda patterns – more like a Vogue Designer pattern in all its wonderful details, but with the usual precise Burda drafting. I really wanted to do this dress justice, so I did quite a few things the long way, like the fell-stitched sleeves, walking vent, and all the matching seam intersections!