My vintage-inspired BIRTHDAY merino cycling jersey

Happy “over a week late but still my” birthday to me!! If you aren’t following me on social media (I mean, why not??) then you may have missed the absolute frenzy of renovation/building work that’s been taking place over the last few months. In November and December, the builders made us a new kitchen, bathroom, and utility room, and then after a short break, have spent all of February and May creating our Saloon (bright living/dining area, where these photos were taken!) and Snug (dark living room) and corridor. Considering these didn’t even have finished walls or subfloors (or lighting!) when they started, the transformation has been incredible.

But it does mean that for infection control reasons, I couldn’t be anywhere near them while they’re here working (we have a very small but self-contained back cabin we stay in). We’re grateful to be in this position, but it severely limits my sewing time before you even consider the sheer amount of dust, lack of cutting table, fact that large sheets of plywood and doors would randomly block access to my sewing room and omg did I mention the dust?!? So my planned birthday make was not finished for my actual birthday this year, which just happens some years! And it doesn’t diminish it in the slightest.

Happy 2020! (My year in review)

Happy new year! I always like to take the opportunity on the start of a bright new year to look back on the year that was – what I made and loved, what I made and swore at, and other big life milestones that will make 2019 stand out in my mind. And because I love stats, I also like to take a step back and get an overview of what I’ve been making to get an eye for any trends that may have escaped me at the time…

My bias silk 40th birthday gown

Happy 40th birthday to me! Since it’s a big birthday year I kinda felt like I just had to celebrate big, too! So we rented the whole of a private members cocktail bar near Kings Cross, invited a bunch of people, laid on pizzas, and let the rest just happen! Every year I like to make myself something special to celebrate my birthday, and I felt like I should sew a big, glamorous dress for myself to feel like a total star at the party, too.

I happened to have four meters of gorgeous copper-coloured silk satin (charmeuse) in my stash which I’d bought from Truro Fabrics back in 2015 with the intention of sewing a gown for the World Transplant Games gala dinner in Argentina. But I didn’t quite have enough time to sew it before we left, and the silk has been in my stash ever since. I still had the receipt in with the fabric, too, and the price reflects the incredible quality of this silk – I’d paid about £75 for it.

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!).

Happy 2018! (My Year in Review)

Happy fresh and new baby year, everyone! I always like to celebrate the first of the year with a look back at the year that’s just completed – this gives me a chance to reflect at the things I’ve accomplished, the garments I’ve made, and challenges conquered. As is traditional, I find myself starting 2018 with lots of great stuff on the horizon but unable to talk about it (this time last year my two big secrets were my Threads article and my book deal, so you’d better believe 2018’s secret project is a good’un!) so you’ll just have to trust me that the outlook for 2018 is rosy indeed!

Cycling Jeans No3

When you find yourself literally patching the patches on your first pair of cycling jeans, it’s the world’s way of telling you that you need to drop everything and make a replacement pair ASAP. Since I started cycling to work in January 2016, I’ve found my own balance of form and function to make cycle commuting work with my casual office. Since my commutes have only ever been 30-35min, it’s not really worth cycling in full lycra, so I tend to wear whatever bottoms I’d plan on wearing at the office (unless the forecast is wet, in which case I do wear lycra & pack a full change of clothes in my backpack).

Happy 2017 (my year in review)

Woohoo! It’s a fresh new year! Each year I like to take the first of January to look back on what I’ve sewn in the previous year. So while this post is a celebration of the new year, it’s also a look back at what I’ve been up to in the last twelve months, which I always find to be a helpful exercise!

Another pair of cycling jeans

I’ve made a lot of jeans since I started sewing 14 years ago. I remember I made my first pair before we even bought the boat, which would put them back in 2006 or 2007, and I really haven’t stopped since! I’ve probably made at least 10-15 pairs over the years, with various patterns and weights of denim, but my most recent pair with cycling-specific adaptations have been one of my favourites, so I wanted to have another pair of those in my wardrobe.

The majority of my jeans over the years have been made with Ditto Fabrics’ super freaking amazing Italian denims, and this traditional, non-stretch, dark dye was bought when I last visited their shop in December. It’s no coincidence that we’ve got another trip to Brighton planned in a few weeks so I can restock then…

Sewing jeans against the world

Sometimes you have to just close yourself into your sewing room, try to block out the world, and just make. This weekend I closed myself in my sewing cave and emerged on Sunday with a new pair of jeans and a teeshirt.

Let’s start with the jeans – I’ve lost track, but these are probably at least the 10-15th pair of jeans I’ve sewn myself, so I pretty much know what I want and how to achieve it by now. I usually try to make at least a pair a year, as they seem to live for just over a year of hard wear before the inner thighs inevitably start to wear thin and they’re relegated into “boat work jeans”.

Happy 2016! (My year in review)

Each year I like to take the first of January to look back on what I’ve sewn in the previous year. So while this post is a celebration of the new year, it also helps me to put into perspective the year that has just gone. Somehow I always think the year has been a bit low on finished makes until I put everything together for the year’s collage!


Click the image to see it better, or right-click here to see it in a new tab to get a better look!

Tip: If you’d like to skim back through the posts for the above projects, you can click Gallery in the top menu, which will only show you finished projects, without all the magazine reviews and in-progress reports getting in the way! (Though a few of the makes in the bottom row I haven’t blogged about yet!)

The Year in Stats

In terms of pattern companies used this year, I made:

  • 25 FehrTrade patterns (I put my money where my mouth is I guess!?),
  • 9 Seamwork magazine,
  • 6 Self-drafted (including traced from RTW),
  • 4 Jalie (well, the same sports bra pattern four times!),
  • 3 from the Great British Sewing Bee: Fashion in Fabric book,
  • 2 Burda Style magazine,
  • 2 Style Arc,
  • 2 Orange Lingerie,
  • and 1 each from La Maison Victor magazine, Named, Paprika Patterns, Imagine Gnats, Simple Sew, and Kwik Sew.

By my count, I made: 21 tops, 19 trousers (including leggings & shorts), 2 jumpsuits,
2 dresses, 10 pieces of lingerie (bras, panties, slips, etc), 1 bikini, 2 jackets/coats/cardigans and zero skirts (!). I made presents for my mom, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew, and James also received four tops and a pair of lounging bottoms this year, the lucky guy!