I seem to be really good at making multiple items out of the same fabric recently. Rather than have an odd metre or two sit in my stash, I’ve been making an effect to use up the excess to make something for someone else and share the love.
Case in point – I’d bought a few metres of digitally printed, loop-back sweatshirting from Fashion Formula using this “Turquoise tropical leaves” print design in advance of filming my my Craftsy/Bluprint “Serging Activewear” course last year. I had to sew up some of it before I flew out to Denver, then you got to see me sew a bit more of it on screen, but then it sat unfinished at home for a few months during the summer heat wave.
I know those of you who live outside London were disappointed to not be able to attend my all-day activewear masterclass in July and September, but I’ve got great news because you can now learn activewear techniques from me wherever you are!
Yes, I’ve filmed my first video class with Craftsy, which you can watch now!
Pop quiz – What’s better than an entire Saturday set aside for sewing?
Give up? It’s an entire Saturday set aside for sewing with a friend! Yes, a few weeks ago my friend Sanchia (whom you may recall as my Threshold Shorts pattern athlete model) was all “we need to set a sewing date and make some leggings!” so we found a Saturday we both had free, and she came round to the boat last weekend! Sanchia has sewn before, but hasn’t made leggings in a while, so she selected some fabric out of my (frankly, overflowing with fabulousness) lycra stash, and we used my Steeplechase Leggings pattern to sew her up a pair without any inner leg seaming.
And since we were going to be sewing all afternoon, well, I might as well make a pair for myself, too! Since Sanchia chose my FunkiFabrics “Prism” lycra (I had the Flexcite base but it’s also available on their wicking Titan base fabric, I wanted to choose something dark so we wouldn’t need to change threads, so I used some fabulous cityscape lycra that had literally just arrived from Sewing Chest the day before (they have got some great sales on their sportswear fabric pieces right now, just sayin’!).
We had a good chat cutting out the fabric, and then pinning each step together and constructing them assembly-line style, plus a break for lunch, and then she got to play on my coverstitch machine for the hems and waistband finishing, too. By the time 4pm rolled around, we had two finished pairs of leggings!
We vowed to wear our new leggings to Run dem Crew on Tuesday, where we got another friend to snap some photos of us!
I’ve had a few people ask me, “When are you going to release a sports bra pattern?” And to be honest, the short answer is that I have no plans to. My aim has always been to create exercise patterns for designs that aren’t already available, and in my opinion, there’s already a great compression sports bra pattern* out there, Jalie 2563, hiding in the guise of a “Sports top”.
I recently found out that my favourite sports bra pattern is being discontinued (Moving Comfort’s “Phoebe”, boo!), so this was the push I needed to sew up a few more of my own, ready for the next few months of marathon training. I was already cutting into my lycra scraps to create Running armband pockets to fundraise for Argentina, so I cut out some sports bra pieces at the same time when I saw I could fit them in.
The result is two sports bras, one made with Funkifabrics Triathlon (Aqua) print lycra and UK Fabrics navy blue nylon lycra shoulder straps, and one made from UK Fabrics Leopard print nylon lycra topped with aqua nylon lycra (also from UK Fabrics but long sold out). You may remember these fabrics from a bunch of former projects – my triathlon print leggings, my ladies’ cycling Surf to Summit version, my cheetah print leggings, my men’s running Surf to Summit, and my aqua & yellow piping Surf to Summit. Never let it be said I don’t get my money’s worth!
These two were made assembly-line style, so as I sewed the seams on one, I’d do the other at the same time. Happily the colours are similar enough that I could do this without having to rethread all the time.
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.
Wow, thank you all so so much for all your hearty congratulations on my double gold medals at the British Transplant Games! It was definitely a confidence boost winning the first one, enough that I had the courage to wear my rather-more-revealing-than-I’m-used-to new running shorts & bra set for the second days’ track races.
I used the Jalie 2563 pattern for both the sports bra with racer back (View A) and the shorts with thigh insert (View C), and there’s also another bra view included in this pattern, too, so it’s great value to get three usable views in one!
I’d made this set after completing the swirl sheath dress, but before the super simple skirt, so I’m glad we waited for a photoshoot to be able to use Sheffield’s amazing Don Valley Stadium as the backdrop, even though it’s scheduled to be demolished next month for lack of maintenance funds (so, so sad!).
Even though I’m wearing these as a set on their own here, I think for regular runs I’m more likely to wear them as separates – a great sports bra to wear under a low-cut vest to let a pop of colour peep through, and a great pair of running (or cycling!) shorts I can pair with a longer top.
Jalie actually call this a “crop top” and not a “sports bra”, but I found it really easy to turn it into a compression-style sports bra that’s actually supportive enough to run in! If you’ve got a larger bust, your mileage may vary, but for me, this is the perfect mix of support, style and comfort.
My first change was to line both the front and back in power mesh. However, when I tried it on (before adding the elastic edges), it didn’t pass my “bounce test”. So I consulted with a sewing/running industry friend, who recommended I try adding a second layer of power mesh lining, with the stretch running in the opposite direction to the first layer (power mesh is stretchy in one direction, but rigid in the other).
I’ve found myself at the end of yet another extraordinarily busy week, one where we’ve been out pretty much every single night, and we’ve had a friend over from the States, too. However, I have managed to make progress, albeit slow, on my swirl sheath dress in a series of 10 minute segments snatched here and there.
Since I bought my silver stretch lining fabric on Goldhawk Road last Saturday, I’ve managed to sew and press all the darts (the lining uses the original base pattern so no swirls inside), attach it to the facings, sew the side seam, and attach it to the invisible zipper.
Here’s the back of the dress hanging flat in my sewing cave:
I did the lining hem by machine, but the coral fabric hem needs doing by hand, possibly in the car this weekend. The right side strap also needs a little bra keeper snap strap to keep it in place as it’s a pinch too long. Otherwise it’s done!
It doesn’t quite fit as well as the muslin did when I made it last summer though, but that’s down to me rather than the pattern – I’ve got a big track race next weekend in Sheffield for the British Transplant Games and my trainer has put me on a training diet to shed as much excess weight as possible before the race, as this translate directly into seconds on the track.
She and I were both taken aback by how successful this has been – I’ve lost 4cm (1.5 inches) off my waist and hips and 4.5kg (10lb) in four weeks! If it wasn’t for the hours of running up hills I’d suggest she sell it as a diet plan (the running would reduce its popularity somewhat!). And really, don’t be concerned, as I’ve been stuffing my face with fruit and veggies and lean meats pretty much continuously all month, so I’m not on some idiotic juice cleanse starvation diet or something.
The downside of this is that all my trousers and skirts are hanging off me (my poor Beignet skirt has a cinched paper bag waist now!) and I’m in desperate need of new bottoms. I was planning on sewing up a few pieces for our upcoming Mexico trip next month(!!) but now it’s clear I need to sew as many bottoms as possibly and just pack tops I’ve got already.
I’m still mentally putting together a nice travel wardrobe plan (which I shall reveal in good time), but my immediate sewing plans are thus:
As some of you may have guessed from my FW2012 shortlist I posted yesterday, I’ve made the Wiksten tank, using the pattern and geometric Mood jersey Kollabora gifted me and also another pair of Jalie jeans! I wasn’t actually planning that they’d go together, but they were a perfect pairing for a relaxed Sunday roast at a cosy pub near the moorings.
Let’s start with the jeans – as I said earlier, my NY-Lon jeans are easily my most-worn item of clothing ever since I made them last year, but they’re starting to fade and I want to have a replacement pair ready before they totally die. The denim I used there was from Mood in NYC, but I’d found some great stretch denim at the Tissues Dreyfus coupon shop in Paris in March, and only €10 for a 3m length, too. I wouldn’t normally buy that much of the same fabric if given a choice, but it means that I’ve got enough left over to easily make another pair. I find it really difficult to find good stretch denim in shops, but this has good stretch and recovery without being too flimsy, so I snapped it up when I saw it.
I constructed these exactly the same as my NY-Lon jeans – again, my main deviations from the Jalie pattern were to use a Burda curved waistband (instead of their rectangular, bias-cut waistband that was just awful in my muslin pair), and extended the pocket linings to the centre front for a non-stretch “gut slimming” panel, as before.
A lot of sewers like to “Sew with a Plan” (SWAP), but I prefer to call this a “Shortlist” rather than a “Plan”, so I’m free to still change my mind and add/remove items as I go along! My main goal here isn’t so much to create a capsule wardrobe that can be worn together, but more to use up fabrics and/or that have been in my stash for a while that I’d really like to just wear.
From the top down, in no particular order:
- KnipMode 12-2005 #10 – I’ve got some non-stretch denim aging in my stash from a few years ago, and I love KnipMode’s style lines for these. My wardrobe is in desperate need of more jeans, hence why there are two pairs in this Shortlist!
- Altered Burda 06-2012 #129 – Now that my stretch satin from Gorgeous Fabrics is in hand, I can finally make the final version of this dress after completing the drafting and muslins back in July.