Melissa's World Tour Week

So, I’ve uhh, been a little busy the past week. I know a lot of people say they’re busy, but I’ve seriously been busy. Wanna see exactly how much?

Let’s start at the beginning of last weekend, 17 May, when I flew from London to Copenhagen, so that I could run my second marathon on Sunday morning (19 May). This was months in the making, and something I’d been building up to for a long time. I’ve posted my full race report here if you want to see all the details, but the short version was that it was cold & wet (yay!), friendly (double yay!), but I didn’t get the time I was after (boo!), but I did learn a lot and I’m reasonably happy with my finish of 3:52!

I also ran the race in leggings I sewed myself, from my own leggings draft and two colours of Suziplex. Like in Amsterdam, they were 100% comfortable, stayed in place, and no chafing. They did soak up a fair bit of rain, but then so did the rest of me.

(This is the Before photo!)

After a whole lot of food, an ice bath, a hot shower, and a fine cup of tea, I rushed back to the airport that night to fly back to London (Flight Number Two, if you’re keeping track).

The next morning (20 May), I flew out to Mimi for a short-notice work trip (that’s Flight Number Three). I got 45 glorious minutes of beach time on Tuesday (which I sorely needed, body and soul!), and the meeting went well.

Sewing World magazine May 2013

I meant to post this last week while I was away on my world travels, but I found it hard to tactfully review bits of it without adequate sleep (and even with more rest, I may still have failed!).

Sewing World is a British general-sewing magazine with a mix of garments, crafts, embellishment, with a definite skewing towards beginners, but with the odd advanced article thrown in, too. It’s one I’ve picked up and flipped through in newsagents over the years, but never really felt compelled to buy more than once or twice. In recent years they started publishing a pattern sheet insert in the magazine, which IMHO makes it a million times easier to sew projects from instead of drafting from instructions or scaling up from a grid.

My sole reason for buying this issue was to get Tilly’s skirt pattern (see below), but I figured it was worth sharing the rest of the magazine with you since there are probably a lot of you who are unfamiliar with it.

The first article is all about how to tweak a teeshirt pattern to make it fit properly, which is definitely a Good Thing, and is often something that sewists ask about, especially since most FBA articles require some form of darts. I’ve got no problem with the tips offered in the article, but as I flipped the page…


And with that, dear readers, absolutely every shred of respect I had for the article’s author and the entire publication went flying out the window. What. The. Eff.

Look, I know the Big Four put facings on knits, and I scream in horror at the sheer ugliness, stupidity, and enforced crappiness of theirs, too. That someone who purports to be an expert would do this to poor, unsuspecting sewists is just unforgiveable, especially when a folded, sewn, and topstitched neckband is a) simpler to achieve, b) simpler to draft, c) better looking and d) …actually, no D. Just don’t.

Moving on… deep breaths…

From the awful to the sublime – the real reason I bought this issue is to get Tilly’s Marielle skirt! I just love the pencil skirt shape, and the asymmetric buttons and trim, just lovely!

Listen to me on two new podcasts!

For the record – I freaking love listening to podcasts. I listen while I sew, walk around London, and before I go to sleep some nights. I mean, my last job was even at a podcast company!

So I was super excited when two new UK sewing podcasts launched recently and even MORE excited when I was asked to join them for a chat! And then out of sheer coincidence, both episodes ended up going live this week so you all have got no excuse for not hearing my funny trans-Atlantic accent all weekend long! 😂

Finding balance (and fabric!) in Copenhagen

After the twin mammoth accomplishments of running London marathon and handing in my book manuscript (and illustrations, patterns, and sewn samples!), I really needed a break! The next few days were filled with sports massages, a spa day, visiting friends, and packing.

I’d only ever visited Copenhagen once, back in 2013 to run the marathon, but I really only got to see the sights directly along the race route, as I had to fly to Miami the next morning for work. Through the global running crew movement I’ve got a bunch of friends there, though, and my friend Christina in particular has stayed with us a few times over the years and when she and her partner Troels were over in January we all sat down with our calendars and finally picked a date for James and I to come stay at theirs and finally see the city properly. As it turned out, Troels ran an ultra the same weekend as I ran London marathon, so the weekend after would be perfect for us all.

If you’ve never been to Copenhagen, I definitely, definitely recommend going. It’s a compact, green, and pleasant city to visit, and it feels like the Danes just really nailed quality of life. Apart from eating everything in sight (smorgasbords!!), we did our usual boat tour, visited the food market, met up with friends, went to three different cocktail bars, and drank a lot of Mikkeller beer at their brewpub, War Pigs.

Friday goodies

Give yourself a big round of applause because… team, we made it through another week! I know, I once took this for granted, too, but it really does feel like an accomplishment these days, and this decidedly grey, damp, and cold February weather here in London certainly isn’t helping. So I thought I’d talk today about a bunch of little things that have come up recently that make me happy, so that possibly they’ll brighten your day a little bit, too.

First up is a bit of news from the world of press (did you see I’ve started compiling these sort of things over on a new and shiny Press page, btw?), where I’m featured in the latest issue of Women’s Running (UK) magazine! Seriously – you can’t miss me – as soon as you open the cover, there I am (with my mom!) on the contents page, plus a lovely two page spread inside, too.

Announcing the Spring Race Challenge!

Everybody could use a bit more motivation to exercise, right? In my opinion, spring time is the absolute best time to start exercising if you haven’t been doing as much as you’d like, and what better way to motivate yourself than with some pretty new exercise gear that fits you perfectly?

The Spring Race Challenge is simple – sew up some exercise gear, and sign up to a race.


It doesn’t matter whether the sewing is self-drafted, from one of my patterns, or from another pattern company. The important bit is that you’ve sewn it yourself!


It doesn’t matter what sport you’re into – running, cycling, swimming, karate, gymnastic, cross fit, whatever! You do not have to be speedy. This isn’t about beating your competition, or getting a new PB, or signing up to some lofty challenge – this is all about picking a goal and motivating yourself to work towards it. If running is your thing, I highly recommend checking out your local Parkrun – they’re free, timed 5km runs every Saturday around the world.

How to take part!

Step 1: Place the Spring Race Challenge badge somewhere on your blog (if you have one – if not, tell a friend or tweet it with #SweatAndSew or post it to Facebook!).

Dandelion print Sugar Plum dress

Way back in May I was contacted by Lolita Patterns and asked if I’d like to be a pattern tester for their latest design, a mock-separates dress called Sugar Plum. It looked like something I’d totally wear to a business meeting, and their size 12 matched up almost uncannily to my measurements, so I went for it.

The turnaround deadline was tight (only two weeks), so I got shopping right away. The bodice of the dress is for lightweight wovens, and the bottom for stable knits (apparently to make it more comfortable for sitting at a desk all day, how nice!).

I don’t often go for prints, but I fell in love with this dandelion head fabric from Stone Fabrics, and to simplify matters, I also ordered a beige polyester crepe to line the bodice (since the dandelion crepe is semi-sheer), and a navy ponte jersey for the skirt. Normally I’d steer towards natural fibers, but my recent world tour reminded me of the importance of non wrinkling work attire, and I wanted this to unroll from a suitcase without the need to iron!

Postbags of Fun

I’ve been ill the past few days with some crappy bug that’s going around, and it appears that the postman has either a) been following me on Twitter and reading all my “bluergh I feel awful” tweets, or b) canoed alongside the boat and has been peeping in our windows watching me. I know I’d definitely prefer a).

But in any case, he definitely knew I needed cheering up, because look what arrived within the span of two days!

That’s right, the June Manequim magazine, the July Burda, and a bunch of StyleArc patterns I ordered a few weeks ago (they’re getting SO much faster at turning these around!!)

You’ll see my reviews of Manequim (awesome!) and Burda (pants!) next week, but the new additions to my growing Style Arc hoard are:

  • Audrey jacket, which just looks perfect for Fall to me
  • Pamela dress, which would be really great for taking on our big Mexico trip later this year
  • Emma dress, which is just way Too Me to pass up!
  • and the Freebie for June, Dee Knit Top, which is really cleverly, yet simply drafted

Bridge the Gap refashioned race tee

Following on from yesterday’s Boston Street Running refashioned top, I thought I’d show you the other refashioned race tee I made from my starting pile, the “BTG” one in the centre:

This one has a whole lot of meaning for me – the urban running crew I’m part of, Run dem Crew, has a bunch of sister crews all over the world with a similar ethos, so when we go to races in other countries, the host crew lays on parties, sightseeing, and pre-race hospitality. When crews get together like this, it’s called “Bridge the Gap”, and the Copenhagen crew even designed special shirts to commemorate the Copenhagen marathon weekend.

But I was a bit late to the Expo, and they ran out of Medium shirts, so I asked to be given the largest size they had, which was XXL! (Why they thought they needed to print any that big for marathon runners is another question entirely!). So this one was ripe for refashioning, and I had a lot of fabric to work with, which was great.

When I Bridge the Gap, I really bridge the gap!

The original shirt had the blue NBRO man on the front, with BTG and the date underneath, and the back had “The Peloton of Awesome” and all the participating crew logos across the shoulders. There were also mesh panels running down the sides, which I used in the Boston Street top instead. Unlike that top, however, here it was absolutely essential that I preserved the original designs.

Burda magazine June 2013

I’m a tad late with my review of the latest Burda magazine (or as it’s known these days “Burda Style” – but that just makes it too confusing with the other zillion things they do with the same name), but a) it arrived in the midst of my World tour, b) it’s competing with both the April and May Manequim magazines, and c) well, I have made something from it already so I think I’ve earned a pass!

In any case, this is a surprisingly good issue, despite being a summer one!

First up is this sheath dress with angled side panels and hand-stitched details. On first glance it appears quite vintage-inspired, but the sharp seaming in the line drawing actually shows it’s a pretty modern draft!

I chose this next image not really for the batiste skater skirt (which isn’t really my style), but because OMG is this the first black model Burda have ever used?? And I realise this is the “street style” section so she’s not really a model per say, but seriously, I cannot believe how white Burda’s models are, even when they’re showcasing African or Moroccan or Asian inspired patterns they still use white models!*

A bit of an aside, but as I was travelling the other week I saw a massive advert for the German Wings budget airline with three cabin crew ladies: a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead. To which I chuckled to myself “oh, it’s German diversity!”

Next up is a nice figure-hugging knit dress with a cowl neck and gathered side seams. It’s also available as a top, which I think would be an excellent summer basic, or even for layering under jackets.