Mini me!

After the success of my green Patrones hoodie I thought that I’d make something similar for my nephew Logan’s birthday using the same fabric. I liked the look of #7 from Patrones Ninos 271 (Patrones magazine is normally all womenswear patterns, but they have two special childrens issues each year).

Even though it’s modelled on a girl here, it’s definitely a unisex style, and I thought the dark green sweatshirting was definitely more of a boy colour anyway, and this was much nicer than the other styles for boys his age in this issue. So I sewed this up on my overlocker in a few hours, and now it’s off to the post office in time for the big day! Unfortunately my would-be model neighbour girl has gone away for the past few days so I’m limited to a flat photo until Logan wears it himself…

Sewing the Cos “Made By You” Women’s Shirt

Earlier this week I showed you my finished version of the Cos “Made By You” women’s shirt kit with the promise of giving far, far more details on the kit itself and some construction instructions so strap on in! This is a HEFTY brain dump intended to help others who’ve bought this thinking they were getting a full sewing pattern, or who bought it and no longer have Cos’s video online to help. Or frankly, if you’re just intrigued about what a high street shop thinks a home sewing product should be!

My Cos “Made By You” Women’s Shirt

Back in November I caught wind that the high-end high street shop Cos were selling sewing kits for two of their classic white shirt designs. Coincidentally, it was right after Black Friday so I managed to buy both with a hefty discount, purchasing size M/L for the women’s and size S/M for the men’s (the RRP for each kit is £29/€35 but I think I paid less than £20 each). Now, Cos label these as “women’s” and “men’s” but to my eyes they’re really both unisex designs, so I’m sewing up both for myself! I decided to dedicate my January sewing to tackling these kits, starting with the women’s one (as voted by my Instagram followers), so this post is to show off the finished shirt!

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.

Men’s Surf to Summit Top pattern – now layered!

Yes, we’ve carried on with our regular updates and now the Men’s edition of our ever-popular Surf to Summit Top pattern joins the Ladies edition in being layered! Woop! The Ladies edition has been layered for a while, and our Lightspeed Leggings pattern was the first to be layered from launch, so it was a great opportunity to update this one, too, so it’s even easier to sew some great winter activewear for the men in your life.

A green merino Astoria sweater

I’ve been a subscriber of Seamwork magazine since issue one back in December, and can I just say that they are killing it with the digital format, pattern bundling, and freemium vs add-on price point? Seriously, this is the future of not just sewing magazines, but magazines. I’m proud to be both a subscriber and a contributor (look out for more of my writing in the June issue!), to be honest! When I saw the cropped “Astoria” sweater in the April 2015 issue, I just knew I was going to sew it! The nice thing about Seamwork (which is made by the Colette Patterns team) is that subscribers get both patterns on the 1st of the month, but if you’re dawdling and don’t notice a great pattern until someone like me sews it up a month or two later, you can still go back and buy the pdf pattern on its own (and they include Copy Shop versions, too).

All the Seamwork patterns are designed to be sewn in an hour, and, just like the Oslo cardigan I made back in January, this one came together in a single evening. Also, I appear to only make Seamwork patterns in wool jerseys, ha!

I couldn’t believe my luck when this pattern appeared, as I’d just bought some gorgeously soft green merino wool jersey at Mood in NYC mere days before! I’d only bought 2 yards (which I’d regretted once I got home!) for $18/yd, but happily there was enough there to cut the long-sleeved version of this plus still have enough leftover for a winter running buff.

I made size Large since my waist and hips corresponded best to that size, though my bust is a Medium on their chart. At first I made size Large with no alterations, but I wasn’t 100% sold on the fit. It took a whole day of me wearing it to decide that it’d be better with the sides taken in by 2cm (an inch) on each side. In hindsight, I could’ve gone with the Medium, I think.

So I cut off the hem band, took in the sides from the armpits down (taking off the same 2cm from each of the hem band seams, too!), and overlocked the hem band back on, this time with only the minimum seam allowance to avoid shortening the hem any more than necessary. And the fit is waaaaaaaay more to my liking now!

A Lime Linen Men's Shirt

James has a black linen shirt from Muji that he utterly loves. He’s worn it very nearly to death over almost ten years, though, with it rather faded and with a hole worn in in one place. So he asked me if I could copy it, as it’s a design that he’s never been able to find it shops again.


I’m so proud that my Illustrator skills are such that I can whip up a tech drawing like this in a few minutes now!

It’s an over-the-head design with a front button placket, stand collar, back yoke, and short sleeves with little button tabs on the sleeve hems. The only change I made from the original was to introduce a small pleat at the back yoke, as I just think men’s yoked shirts look weird when they don’t have them, plus it gives a bit of wearing ease back there.

I traced out his existing shirt with craft paper and my serrated tracing wheel, and made a quick muslin, which miraculously needed no fitting changes! Then it was onto the first real version, made up in a lime-green linen-blend mix from Ditto which he chose when we were in their Brighton shop earlier this year.

Plackets always tend to intimidate me as they seem like a bit of witchcraft – how can this weird shape turn into that in just a few steps?? So I put off sewing it, until I remembered that I’d scanned and digitised the placket template from David Page Coffin’s excellent “Shirtmaking” book. This is one of my clever-er ideas, as it means I just just adjust the width and length of the placket in Illustrator and print myself off a fresh template. Because obviously the dimensions for sleeve plackets for men’s shirts are of a different scale than the neck placket here!

Minimum Viable Dress (and speed sewing tips!)

In the tech industry, there’s a term “Minimum Viable Product”, which means the absolute minimum you can do to get code out the door. It’s not your best work, but it works.

Like half of London, we had tickets to see Secret Cinema’s performance and screening of the first Back to the Future film, where they recreated the entire 1955 town of Hill Valley, California, complete with about 20 business, the clock tower, full fun fair, a cast of hundreds of actors, you name it. We were also all asked to assume an identity (I was “Tiffany Hyslop, developer!”) and dress in 1955 styles. Now, I’ve only got one 1950s dress pattern (which I made into that Porsche dress a few years back) but it’s too big in the bodice now and would require too much work.

So instead, I picked a modern dress with a 1950s feel – the Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern (1873) which I had already made in fuchsia and really liked the fit of.

The pink version was the wrong colour for the 1950s and definitely too short, so I bought some striped cotton poplin from Minerva that had the right vibe, and figured it’d be close enough.

Common XYT Workout Top bra adjustments

I’ve learned a lot through the release of my four exercise sewing patterns, and even though each is vigorously tested through my crack team of pattern testers, there are still a few things I’d go back and do differently if I had the chance.

On the XYT Workout Top, providing only one level of support and one cup option is definitely something I’d change if I was releasing it now – as printed, the bra lining is awesome if you want high support for running and other high impact sports and you’re a C cup or smaller.

But two of the most common issues I see with people is that they’re totally unaccustomed to how a fully-supportive compression bra actually feels (I see so many women bouncing all over the place when they run, it makes me weep for their future selves), or that they think they can “get away” without doing an FBA even though they’re busty.

Let’s address those two issues!

It’s too tight – I need less support!

Not planning on doing any running or other high impact sports and only want lighter support? Only use one power mesh layer with the crosswise stretch (ie: going around the body) and add room at the side seams. On the Back Lining piece, you can actually just cheat and cut it a cm or so from the fold since it’s just a rectangle, but on the Front Lining, add a bit to the side, then smooth out the curve to the armhole.