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Little shoots of Spring

Like little green shoots poking through the earth as the warmth of Spring approaches, I feel like my sewing productivity and creativity is just pushing through from all angles at the moment. I’m so proud that so many of you love my Steeplechase Leggings pattern as much as I do (and I’ve got loads more to share!) but I wanted to share a bunch of smaller things I’ve been getting on with…

Have you ever heard of Sock Stop? It’s a bit like puffy paint we used in the 90s, but it’s intended to paint onto the bottoms of socks and slippers to prevent slips and falls. I bought
some from Guthrie & Ghani recently to see if it helps keep activewear hems in place without requiring silicone elastic (which can be a bit fiddly to sew on). I’ve tried it out on the hems of my Steeplechase capris (which you’ll see soon) and I want to test them out on my next cycle ride…

I can’t believe my birthday’s nearly here again – it seems like I only just made my galaxy-print sheath dress! I celebrated early with my BFF Pip, and she very kindly bought me this Secrets of Sewing Lingerie book and a metre of gorgeous silk chiffon from Dalston Mills! I’m super impressed by the variety and styles of panties, bras, camisoles, garter belts, and accessories in the book, but I want to try out a few patterns before I post a review.

Coming soon: the Steeplechase Leggings!

Let me just start by saying how excited I am about this design. As I hinted about months ago, it’s a concept that I’ve never seen done before, either in a sewing pattern nor in RTW – leggings with no inseam!

The idea was planted into my head by an equestrian student at one of my leggings classes, and it brewed in my head for a few months before I was ready to start developing it. First I started by just shifting the seam to the outside leg, at which point I could’ve just inserted a panel like I did with my Duathlon Shorts pattern. But since I’d already done that before, why not do something different and shift the seam to the back of the leg and add in some curves and a yoke panel, too??

Why not, indeed!

My official blurb is:
These leggings have no inseams! Instead, a curved, outer seam runs from the back of the ankle up to the centre front, where it joins a separate yoke piece. There’s an optional, hidden back pocket, elasticated waistband, and your choice of three lengths: biker short, capri, or full length leggings.

It’s particularly exciting for me because these bring a whole new sport into my pattern stable (ahem) – horseback riding! But they work equally well for running, cycling, and yoga, too, whether you’ve had problems with inner-leg chafing in the past or not. Despite the crazy concept and WTF pattern shapes, these are also deceptively easy to sew up, too – most of my testers made these in a single evening, from cutting to wearing!

These are available in my usual size range, and also come with the usual, fully illustrated instructions complete with Common Fit Alterations section, and Print at Copy Shop version included as standard.

I’ve sewn up SO many samples for myself over the past few weeks, and I’ve been testing them out on my river runs, and also on Tuesdays at Run dem Crew. Because it’s still quite chilly here in London, I’ve been mostly sewing the full-length leggings, but I’ve got (more sedate!) capri and biker short length versions ready to photoshoot this weekend, too.

I’ve still got lots to do before the release sometime next week, though – like going through all the feedback from my incredible band of pattern testers, creating the To Do list of tweaks and suggestions, coordinating the photoshoots of all my samples, plus some of my niece wearing her samples in the saddle (yay!), and finishing up the pattern covers, which I decided to change up a bit for 2015.

A Mountain of Your Makes (Part Two)

Following on from yesterday’s Part One, I’ve got a whole new heap of activewear sewing inspiration coming your way. You ladies have been so busy sewing up a storm, and I love that you get so excited when I release a new pattern like the Surf to Summit Tops that you make it all in droves!

Winnie’s fabulous peacock print Duathlon capris


Read more…

Cidell’s winter running Surf to Summit Top for her husband, Jordan


Read more…

Katherine’s green cherries runderwear (included in my Threshold Shorts pattern)


Read more…

Veloswer’s kiwi-styled cycling Surf to Summit Top


Read more…

Carey’s teal and white Surf to Summit Top


Read more…

Coming soon: The Surf to Summit Top pattern

My next sewing pattern is very nearly ready to release, so it’s high time I gave you a pre-release look at what I’ve been slaving over the past few months, right? I’ve been dropping hints all over, but this pattern will be released simultaneously for women and men for the first time ever! I’ve been wanting to release menswear patterns since the very beginning and I’m super proud that my first is such a versatile one, too.

My official description is:
A top with long or short raglan sleeves with optional sleeve mitts, tall integral collar to keep your neck covered, princess seams with side panel, and your choice of two hem lengths. An optional half zip and back cycling-style pocket are also included.


Click any image to make it bigger!

This one’s called “Surf to Summit” because with all the optional extras, you really can wear it for surfing, running, cycling, and skiing or snowboarding, as well as just as a regular casualwear base layer, too.

The men’s version has the same style lines and optional extras, but has a completely separate draft, with a straighter cut which a lot of men tend to favour over the ultra slim-fitting fitness tops.

Designer colourblocking inspiration

My next pattern is off with the pattern testers right now and I’m frantically sewing up final samples for photoshoots, filling in missing illustrations, and responding to comments as they come in, but I’ve managed to occupy my brain with the thought of things I might sew for fun next!

I did indeed wear my traced-from-RTW mustard yellow sheath dress to Number 10 Downing Street last week, and even managed to get some photos with the famous door(!) afterwards, but you’ll have to wait for those until the proper photoshoot is done showing the rest of the dress details in some decent lighting.

But I can say already that I love the dress! It needs some slight tweaking to the shoulder area, but apart from that, my tracing was spot-on, and I’m so chuffed it turned out so well without a muslin.

The crazy seaming really started getting my brain thinking about all the ways it could be colourblocked, though, and I looked up and suddenly found inspiration from a magazine photo I’d cut out years ago and had hanging on my sewing cave wall!

So I rummaged through my ponte scraps and realised that I had the most perfect shade of teal viscose ponte leftover from a client commission, and together with the leftover mustard scraps (and some newly-bought white ponte), I could make my very own Chalayan-inspired sheath dress!

I whipped up a tech drawing in Illustrator so I could play with the different colourblocking combinations, and I’m not sure which I should go for.

I’ve only got 1.2m of the teal and even less of the mustard, but I could buy whatever white I need to make up the rest. I think I have enough to make any of these combos, but I will of course double-check with my pieces before I order the white.

I also finally sewed up a muslin of this short coat from the Sept 2010 Burda (also known as one of my favourite issues Of. All. Time.):

In progress bits

Contrary to the amount of time I’ve been spending behind a computer recently, I actually have been finding some time here and there to sew, too. It’s just, well, most of it is for my next pattern, which is going well, but is still at least three weeks off going live (sorry!). It turns out that, even though I can reuse some parts of the pattern between the men’s and women’s versions, there still an awful lot of extra work involved in creating two versions!

You might reasonably expect that I’d have to make twice as many samples, but there’s other added time involved with “invisible tasks” like walking seam lines and measuring finished garments, for instance. While both are made considerably easier done digitally, and even moreso if you’ve organised yourself a nice little Excel spreadsheet to do the heavy calculating and imperial converting, there’s still an awful lot of measuring to be done. But it gives me a little thrill when I can see my finished garment measurements vs body measurements equating to ease, down to 1/100ths of a mm!


This is just a small portion of my spreadsheet – the other bits gave too much away!

If you want to be the first to hear details of my new pattern, then now is an excellent time to sign up for my FehrTrade patterns mailing list, which which you’ll find at the bottom of my Shop front page. If you ticked “Yes” to marketing emails when grabbing my free Running Armband Pocket pattern, then you’re already on it. And I absolutely promise you that the email volume will be really low volume and only important stuff, like sneak previews and special voucher codes.

So on top of getting my next pattern ready to send to my two teams of pattern testers, organising athlete-models, and sewing up more samples, I’ve been spending my office hours working on an upcoming sewing book (not mine!) for a publisher, too. So it’s good practice in double-checking instructions and illustrations, but it is rather brain-taxing to be doing all day!

I’ve managed to squeeze in a few “Fun Sewing” projects, though, including a pair of leggings made from some luuuuuuuuuscious Funki Fabrics lycra (bought with my own money).

A Week in a Day

I’ve been a bad blogger this week. I’ve been doing lots (as you’ll soon see), but working every weekend for the past three, plus the weeks in between, and some out-of-town trips have all really sapped my enthusiasm to write! So I’m taking the lazy option out and catching you all up with a little roundup – a week’s worth of posts in a day…

Like the Wind workshop

Cult running magazine Like the Wind approached me a few months ago to ask if I’d like to run a “sew your own leggings workshop” at the week-long popup they were throwing together at the end of October. I’d known one half of the husband-and-wife team that run the magazine, but I’d never met Julie before this. Once I found out that she not only owns her own overlocker, but bought it when she sewed her own wedding dress with it(!), I knew we’d get along just fine.

We had five runners who’d only done a small amount of sewing before, but had never touched an overlocker before, and certainly not a coverstitch either! They each picked their own fabric from FunkFabrics’ range, and walked home in some very stylish leggings at the end of the afternoon!

Georgina picked a “Gotham” print, so of course she just had to pose with the Batman art in the gallery!

And here’s the finished set! I saw quite a few little “omg I’m so happy in my leggings” dances at the end, which really reminds me why I love teaching so much. Lucy posted a great writeup of the street art tour and my class, too.

There may be another Like the Wind workshop in the new year if we can work out the logistics, but there will definitely be more up at the Thriftystitcher studio in January and February, to be announced very soon! The classes are very similar, so if you’re a runner you can come learn at Thriftystitcher, or non-runners vice-versa at Like the Wind.

But I was so jealous of all their finished leggings that I treated myself to some Funkifabrics lycra this week (it was difficult, but I settled on this geometric aqua number in the end, because it reminded me of a Lamb album cover!).

Random sweatshirt sewing

When I was pulling out supplies to bring along to the workshop, I came across pieces for this sweatshirt that I’d cut out in February when I was trying to deplete random bits of leftover sweatshirting that was taking up too much room in my little sewing cave. The lavender “sacrificial sweatshirt” came out of that same cull, but for some reason I never quite got around to sewing this blue one together at the time.

A Coat Muslin Downer & a Pick-me-Upper

Remember a few weeks ago when I took a quick trip down to Brighton and came back with some gorgeous wool coating and vintage Italian silk lining from Ditto? Of course you do!

Well, as shown in the photo above, I bought it intending to make the StyleArc Audrey pattern to be a transitional Fall “car coat” (heavier than a jacket, but not a full-on winter coat). So having arrived home to decidedly Fall weather, I thought I should get a move on with this coat or else it’ll be too cold before I can make it!

So I pulled out my Audrey pattern, cut out all the million pattern pieces (the attention to detail is really terrific – the lining and facing pieces are exquisitely drafted rather than just carbon-copies of the exterior), and made a muslin.

I know muslins can be super useful, especially for fit problems, but there’s something about them that makes me lose all enthusiasm for a pattern once I see it made in beige, crumbled fabric held together with pins and covered in Sharpie marks. I think I’ve probably dumped more coat patterns at the muslin stage than any other garment (let’s all try to erase the Armani coat muslin horror from our minds… oops)! I put this one on, looked in the mirror and thought…. meh.

So I recruited James and a friend for second opinions. They both gave it the thumbs down, then started going through the list of things that could be done to improve it, lengthen here, take out fullness here, etc etc. Err, no – for something that’s supposed to be “fun sewing” I’d rather just dump this and use another pattern I haven’t yet lost all enthusiasm for!

Sick Day Delays

I was hoping to have been able to show you photos of my latest Donna Karan denim-look leggings, as well as what the Aztec-print sports bra looks like on a real person, but alas, I have succumbed to The Cold that all of London has already had over the past month and that I naively thought I’d evaded. Boo.

So because I’ve been laid low under a mountain of tissues and Netflix, I’ve not been able to do much of anything besides the few client projects which had to be done, and we’ll have to catch up on photoshoots, the road-testing of my next pattern, and the August BurdaStyle magazine when I’m feeling more energetic.

I did, however, managed to cut out and sew most of the StyleArc Pamela dress in fits and bursts between lying down.

An extended weekend full of sewing

Last week saw the end of a very good but busy work project, so what do I do when faced with a bit more time and mental energy than usual? Why, I sew of course!*

Liberty, but not as we know it

I received some lovely Liberty gift coins for my birthday, and because Previous Me knows Future Me so well, I had stashed some extra birthday cash along with it in the suede pouch, knowing I’d forget all about it and be pleasantly surprised. Which is precisely what happened!

So now armed with £60 to play with in Liberty, I decided to take advantage of a rainy day and go shopping. Now, I know loads of you go weak at the knees for anything Liberty, but I don’t. I find most of the traditional Liberty prints to be painfully twee and nothing I’d ever, ever wear. So I was thinking I’d see what was on offer in their jerseys, but first I got waylaid by the remnants table, where I scooped up a vaguely-African print silk twill (1m for £25, seen lower left).

The jersey selection was really small and mostly ditzy print (gag), but I kept being drawn to a dreamy, blurry, triangular print that came in a few shades, but only in Tana Lawn. I finally decided that if I kept coming back to this print then I should buy it and figure out a project later. So 1.5m of the palest colourway came home with me (seen upper left above) and brought my grand total to £58. Now that’s budgeting!

Refashioned suede wristlets

A friend had recently given me two skirts which no longer fit her, a suede one and a silk one, and mentioned that I might want them for the fabric. Of course! So I chopped up the suede one on Sunday, making two of the free Cake mini wristlets.


(The colour on the left is more accurate…)