Pick Three

If you had to choose three (and only three!) things you’ve ever sewn to best represent what you can do, what would you choose?

I’ve recently been tasked with exactly this, and I found it incredibly difficult to decide. I mean, it’d be difficult enough if I was confined to just one type of garment, like “Pick three dresses” or “Pick three casual garments”, etc, but just three, from the hundreds of garments I’ve sewn in the past nine years?! This required thought.

Pick One…

Having said that, strangely, the first of my picks was pretty easy – my Winter Coat.

I made this coat two winters ago and I’m really, really proud of the finish on it. The wool is extremely thick, with bound buttonholes, metal buttons, single welt pockets, a thick silk lining, and (most proudly for me) I didn’t use a single bit of fusible anything in its construction. I wear it to death in winter and I love everything about it.

Pick Two…

Should I play my trump card and pick my vintage refashioned wedding gown? Well, alright then!

A Tokyo-inspired three-piece cycling set

Strap in, because this is going to be one EPIC ride! No, seriously – not just what I did on the bike, but also in the sewing of this set, which will be spread over the course of five posts, because, well, I’ve got a lot to say and a lot of details to share and I want to give this all the space it deserves to breathe and inspire.

This all started life back in February, when Funkifabrics got in touch to see if I’d be interested in sewing something up from one of their fabric designs in their Japan collection with the intention of tying in with the Tokyo Olympics. Did I!? It’s no secret that I love Funkifabrics, and I selected this Tokyo-inspired nightlife print which I chose to have printed on their Life Recycled base fabric (because I’m trying to buy sustainable or recycled fabrics as much as I can!). I didn’t really have a project in mind when it arrived, but a lockdown took hold, the Olympics got postponed, and I started to have to do all my exercise at home on our new treadmill and turbo-trainer, so I found myself creating my own events.

A green leather three piece laptop set

Believe it or not, I’ve still got a backlog of finished projects from the holidays to tell you all about, so I’m going to attempt to get them all up before the end of January (because nobody likes hearing about Christmas presents in February!). First up is my Christmas holiday project for this year – a set I’ve had in mind since I quit my office job last Fall and went full-time working on the sewing business. I mostly work from home, but I also like to get a change of scenery once or twice a week and work elsewhere. I’ve actually found that our favourite whisky bar is a brilliant choice during the day – great atmosphere, lovely staff who know me (so therefore don’t rush me along and don’t mind if I just drink water for hours), comfortable seats, wifi, and music that’s easy to zone out. And it’s an easy 30min cycle along mostly segregated cycle paths, too. Plus I get to reward myself with a cocktail at the end of the day, too!

But I quickly realised that my options for lugging my new laptop around were definitely less-than-chic, and I needed something that looked a bit nicer without screaming “I’m a laptop bag!”. The case off my old laptop (bought in 2010 and therefore an ancient 6 years old!) was way too big for my slimmer new model even though they’re the same screen size, so I first thought about making a cushioned, zippered case for it, and the idea spawned into a bag to put the laptop into (and also hold my normal purse stuff), and something to contain the charging cables and USB sticks, too.

Three gifted Lightspeed Leggings

I’ve still got lots of holiday sewing to tell you about and today I wanted to focus on three pairs of our Lightspeed Leggings I made for Christmas gifts!

A good friend of ours spent Christmas with us this year, and seeing as how he’d helped me with the early development of the Lightspeed Leggings pattern I’d promised him a finished pair of shorts. On one of his visits months ago he’d picked out the remains of the houndstooth lycra (as seen modeled by Jason on the pattern cover), but when I went to cut it, I discovered there wasn’t enough! Boo.

As is typical for me, working within restraints often results in better designs than if I’m given free creative reign – so I decided to “make it work” and still give my friend the houndstooth running shorts he wanted, but with a curved piece of rust-coloured supplex at the bottom of the leg to make up the correct length. Since there are no side seams I was able to make a nice, smooth curve around the leg and I think the finished shorts are even better for it! (And more importantly, so does he!)

My Image Spring/Summer 2013 & giveaway

It may not feel like Spring yet, but all the pattern companies and pattern magazines seem to be releasing their warmer-weather patterns right now and My Image are no different!

The big news for this issue is that MyImage have started making Plus-sized patterns! When someone on the Pattern Review board asked why there were only a few Plus patterns instead of extending ALL the patterns to the Plus-sized range, the creator of My Image gave this reply, which I thought was quite a reasonable one:

“A wider range of sizes will make the magazine a lot more expensive. Also, the pattern sheets will be less clear than they are now and therefore we need to add 1 or 2 extra sheets, what will also drive up the price. As a starting magazine, we can’t raise our prices, otherwise we loose half of our customers and we have to stop again 🙂

We choose to make and print every pattern in 6 different sizes. We try to choose these sizes as careful as possible. For jumpsuits we usually start with 34, because jumpsuits are mostly loved by teens (12-20yr) For more casual clothes we start with 36 or 38 and we stop at 46 or 48. From 46 to 56 we made a new size chart, especially made for plus sizes. It isn’t simply possible to upsize “regular size” patterns to 48/50+ sizes with remaining a great fit.

Also, when someone needs another size than the 6 on the sheet, they can use our custom pattern service.

Anyway, I thought that was worth repeating here as it gives some insight into the difficult decisions patternmakers go through in order to try and please as many people as possible.

But enough of that, let’s have a look at my picks from this issue!

Speaking of Plus, here’s a great knit tunic with gathered sides and a classic jeans pattern (seriously, I can’t remember Burda ever producing a Plus-sized jeans pattern!). I’m not a big fan of shorts, but I really like the gathered-neck top on the right, and I think it’d be pretty versatile for layering as well as hot days.

Summer sewing plans & some outdoor cushion covers

Home dec sewing is a necessary evil. I’ve done a LOT of it over the years, but pretty much all of it is because buying the equivalent is usually impossible due to the custom measurements needed. Unfortunately, I’ve built up quite a backlog of home dec sewing because (like alterations and repairs!) I loathe doing it.

So in an attempt to actually get it done, I’ve decided to incorporate it into my Summer Sewing Plans this year, mixing it up with much more fun garment sewing!

Happy 2022! (Year in review)

Happy 2022! As is traditional, I like to take the chance on the first day of a brand-spanking new year to have a look back at the year before, step back, and reflect on the good (and not-so-good) things that happened. 2021 was always going to be a strange struggle of a transition year, but I kinda feel like we had a bit of practice going into it, so my outlook was a little better than in 2020. But as this is a sewing blog, let’s first take a look at this year’s output…

An Alpine cycling set

It feels inevitable that, as July rolls around and the Tour de France starts up, I find myself sewing a cycling set! In 2019 it was with a goal to wear it to cycle 100 miles in Ride London, and last year it was to complete the Virtual Tour de France on Zwift with an ascent up Mont Ventoux but this year… well, I just wanted a new outfit!

Funkifabrics are one of my absolute fabric activewear suppliers and I’ve been sewing their various base fabrics for at least 8 years now, and frankly I’ve lost count of the number of races I’ve run in their fabrics. So when they got in touch back in January and asked if I’d like to try out their new Spider print base in the print and colours of my choice, I positively leapt at the chance! Their Spider fabric is what I’d generically call an “aerated polyester” (though this is nylon), and what all the big brands have their own copyrighted names for, but essentially it’s a matte activewear fabric with lots of tiny holes – plenty big enough to let moisture and airflow through, but small enough to not be see-through. It’s super lightweight AND has great stretch and recovery in both directions. It’s quite similar to the material often used in race tees, but with better stretch and a tad more texture.

Paprika Palisade trousers

I realise that “Paprika Palisade Pants” would’ve had more pleasing alliteration but since I’ve nearly reached the point where I’ve lived more years in the UK than in the US (19 vs 23), I dislike using ambiguous terms that could be misconstrued. And “trousers” if more definitive than “pants”, which has wildly different meanings based on your geography (the reason I tended to use “bottoms” or “leggings” in my book, too).

In any case, these were an attempt to kickstart my missing sewing mojo and make something comfortable and useful for my yes-I’m-still-shielding-at-home life. I’ve sewn the Closet Core Patterns “Pietra” trousers three times now and have literally worn holes into my first pair, but I wanted to sew something a little different and thought I’d branch out and try the Papercut Patterns “Palisade Pants” which I’d bought in a recent sale. I mean, come on, that pocket detail!!

I loom knitted a sweater!

Strap in because this may be my first finished make of 2021, but it started in 2019, and it’s a whopper.

I learned to loom knit a few years ago because I was really only interested in making socks, and I have zero desire whatsoever to learn “regular” needle knitting (I am beyond bored of people telling me I should – I don’t care – there’s the door!) so to discover there was an old-fashioned method to do so got me excited and I made a LOT of socks over the years. I also made a few hats, and a cowl, and a pair of weird mittens, but then the worm of an idea grew in my head – “You should make a sweater.”