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My refashioned Paris race tee

As I mentioned earlier this week, one of the projects I wanted to work on was refashioning the free (but too large) shirt given out at the Paris half marathon a few weekends ago. Pretty much every race these days gives out a shirt, and usually they’re in nice wicking fabrics, but very rarely are they nicely designed, or vests. I prefer to run in vests instead of teeshirts (even if I’m wearing a jacket over top), so after I finished sewing my mom’s latest chic sweatshirt, I set to work on the race tee.

Here’s a “Before” shot, with my friend Daniel holding up his at the race expo (this is the “Medium”, but it’s massive, like a men’s large!)

I really like the Paris logo, so I wanted to keep that on the front, but I didn’t care about the adidas stripes on the sleeves or “boost” on the upper back (the new shoe they’re promoting). So the first step was to carefully cut along the sides of the shirt and sleeves, so I could lay the shirt out, folded along the centre front and centre back and pin my (self drafted but based on the Kristina Shin sloper) vest pattern pieces down:

I then cut the pieces out, with seam allowances at the sides and shoulders, but none at the neck and arm edges, since I planned to bind those with some of the black technical strips I used with the disco running top.

These were the only bits of the shirt I didn’t use!

First step is to use my little pizza wheel measuring device along the bound edges to work out what length strips I need…


I caught my mistake before binding – the neckline length needs doubling, as I measured both on the fold!

Simultaneous sewing

I generally like to only work on one project at a time, but sometimes, for ease of tracing or bulk-cutting, or because (heaven forbid!) I run out of some necessary supply, I end up working on multiple projects at once. For me, this road is the way to Unfinished Objects (UFOs), and a treacherous one to travel down.

Far, far more frequently, though, I get a posting backlog so it just appears as though I’m working on a few things at once!

So right now, my tally is…

The Disco top and leggings

I posted about the leggings in December and the top last week, but I owe you a proper photoshoot for both!

The pink and orange tie-back top

I can’t talk too much about this one here because my niece reads the site, but this one has been finished for a few weeks, and I’ll get some photos of her wearing it when I’m over in the States after Easter.

The striped raglan tee

This is new-to-you, but I’ve also sewed a top for my nephew to give at the same time. I just finished this one this weekend, and I’ll also get photos of him wearing it when I’m in the States.

Run dem Crew Refashions – Ladies first…

This is probably the longest-running project I’ve done since my epic wedding gown refashion, but I’m really proud of the results and the fact that I can finally show them off after much hinting and whispering round these parts. This would’ve never happened at all without the spark from Charlie, the founder of Run dem Crew (the Tuesday night running family that has utterly transformed my life in the past year I’ve been a member). When he found out I sewed, he raised the idea of a refashioning project, then proceeded to gather together all the pieces to make it happen.

The idea was simple – start with 19 pieces of running clothing – some used, some promotional, and some brand new with tags on (including some ££££ Gyakusou designer gear!), and refashion them.

I started this project back in April, but stalled during the 5 weeks our boat was in drydock and I was without access to my overlocker and sewing room. Happily, I got some fantastic help with ideas from fellow RDC runner Jennie, who’s worked for years as a product designer for a well-known clothing company, and came over to sift through the clothes and it really helped for me to bounce ideas off her and vice-versa.

So her reward was some enforced modelling when the project was finished! Ha!

From the initial bag of clothes, I made 8 garments – tops and bottoms for two ladies and two men. I’ve been promised some modelled shots of the men’s clothing coming up soon, but here are the two ladies’ outfits, modelled by Jennie and I….

I had the fore-thought to take images of all the Before clothing, so I was able to do a nice collage like this, showing you what the various pieces turned into:

PSA – Freezer paper and laser printers don't mix!

This is a bit of a Public Service Announcement, but as I couldn’t find this information easily myself, I thought it was really important to get it out there to save some other poor sod the frustration and money I just spent.

Freezer paper stencils are great – fast, fairly easy, you get good results, and you can reuse the stencils a few times. Search for freezer paper stencil tutorials online, and you’ll get tons of results, all saying you can either print directly onto the freezer paper, or lay your design on top of the freezer paper, and trace around it with an exacto knife.

The latter is what I’ve always done in the past, but for my upcoming RDC refashioning project, I have a ton of stencilling to do, so I thought if I could cut out the step of taping the paper layers together, it’d go a bit quicker.

Only thing is, clearly none of the well-meaning tutorials out there own a laser printer. Laser printers use heat to print. Freezer paper uses heat to bond to the fabric. You see where this is going…?

DO NOT PRINT DIRECTLY ONTO FREEZER PAPER WITH A LASER PRINTER!

A beginner skirt sewing lesson

Sunday afternoon was Lesson Two for my beginning sewing ladies, following along from the first lesson a few weeks ago when they learned how to operate a sewing machine and make a shopping bag.

At the end of the last lesson, Holly, Ness, and Veda were all begging to learn how to make a skirt, so how could I refuse? I decided they should follow in my footsteps and learn with New Look 6843, which was one of the VERY first patterns I ever made (then remade over and over again with a few variations!).

They picked out their own fabric and zippers, with Ness choosing a navy corduroy (so we got to talk about nap!), Holly choosing a beautiful navy wool suiting fabric, and Veda going for a bright and cheerful Liberty print.

Here’s Veda sewing on her own purple JL Mini machine (like my red one!)

We talked through measurements, pattern layouts, what the symbols on patterns mean, and also how you don’t have to follow the directions if you don’t want to (since I thought New Look’s order of construction made it awkward to check the fit of darts, and their zipper insertion made things more difficult than they had to be!).

Free ruffled wristlet pattern!

This might possibly be my longest running project-to-post duration since I drafted and sewed up this cute wristlet last February using some scrap leather and some vintage lingerie fabric for a lining. I made it as a gift for a neighbour who wanted to remember a dear departed friend who left her a stash of vintage fabrics, and I loved the resulting wristlet purse so much that I felt compelled to share it with all of you! But I had problems digitising the pattern so it languished… but recently I was inspired to take another stab at it and I love the way it turned out!

The great thing is that because it’s a small purse, you can really make this out of leather scraps, or even an old leather skirt or jacket from a charity shop (thrift store or op-shop)! Or it doesn’t even have to be from leather at all, it’d work equally well in corduroy, denim, or even felt! And because it’s a wristlet, you can keep your hands free for drinks & canapes, or for beers & barbecues!

Download the free pattern by clicking the image below!

To anyone linking – please link to this page, not directly to the pdf file!

I hope you all enjoy this and please email me any photos if you make one for yourself! I’d rate this as an Advanced Beginner project just because of sewing the zipper, but it’d make a GREAT first leather project if you’ve never sewed with it before.

Illustrated instructions!

Text instructions are included in the downloadable file, but I wanted to provide photo instructions to make it easier for beginners to sew this, too. But when I put the photos in the file itself, it turned out way too big so I compromised and I’m offering them here instead!

Step 1


Using the exterior fabric, cut out two copies of the purse body, two copies of the flap, one of the ruffle, and one of the strap (or omit the strap for a ruffled clutch). The interior circle from the ruffle is unused and can be turned into a decorative flower by pinching the centre and securing with a few hand stitches.

Race tops and new patterns

It is an enigma that, while the overwhelming majority of 10k race participants are slim and svelte, race shirts given away to participants are always enormous!

I had two race shirts made out of the nice wicking polyester that were way too big to wear (hanging down to my mid-thigh! And I’m not exactly Tinkerbelle…) but too nice to let rot in my wardrobe, so I cut them up!

I used the same KnipMode pattern as before, but got lazy and just serged all the edges with my white woolly nylon thread and didn’t bother with the elastic. The armpits were a tad too high before, so I lowered those, but otherwise just approached this as a no-nonsense reconstruction to get some wear out of garments I previously wouldn’t touch.

Sleeping beauty mask

I was in such a buzz of sewing activity on this bank holiday Monday that I finally got a chance to make BurdaStyle’s Marcel sleep mask pattern that I’ve been meaning to sew for ages now!

One sleep mask is for myself, but the second one is a surprise for my friend (and will-be bridesmaid) Gez (who got it slipped through her letterbox last night!).

The adorable kitties fabric is from a tunic she gave me that was a bit too long for a shirt but too short for a dress, so I chopped off some length and saved the offcut to make something for her. The grey fabric is from a skirt her auntie gave me years ago that I completely forgot I even had until I dived into my scraps bin looking for something to use here. The dark grey backing was the skirt itself, and the shiny (silk?) casing used to be the waistband of the skirt. So it’s an entirely recycled sleep mask!

There aren’t any instructions for the pattern, but it’s very easy to make one and would be a great project for beginners:

Lemon and raspberry La Mia Boutique dress

When I bought my first La Mia Boutique magazine a few months ago I was instantly drawn to dress #31 in that April 2008 issue:

I loved the duality of the buttoned, tight, and sleeveless bodice with the pleated A-line skirt, and I wanted to accentuate that with contrasting fabric (and, err, leave out the weird knee-highs!). I happened to have about a half metre of lemon-yellow linen/tencel blend leftover from James’s dress shirt, and it was just too soft to let languish in my scraps box! So I decided to use it for the bodice (and lining) of this day dress and pair it with some raspberry-coloured tablecloths for the bottom. I think I may possibly be channelling Spring colours, or perhaps I’m just craving sorbet!

The Porsche dress

What a difference a week makes! Spring has finally come to London, meaning I could wear my new dress outside without fear of goosebumps (the reverse – I actually got a bit sunburnt!).

If you recall from earlier, I bought a vintage Porsche cotton duvet cover and pillowcase off eBay for £8 (including shipping). It was in great condition and even had a full wraparound print which meant I had a lot more fabric to work with than I ever imagined when I clicked Bid Now…

I decided it’d work best with a suitably vintage pattern, so I decided to use Simplicity 3780, using a bit of careful pattern placement to get the most out of the different printed areas of the duvet cover (so the stripes along the bottom of the duvet became the red halter straps, for instance).