A steel grey Zadie jumpsuit

I’ll admit it – I thought jumpsuits were going to be a passing fad when I started seeing them popping up a few years ago (Brazilian pattern magazine Manequim was definitely at the forefront of this!). But it’s been several years and they don’t show any sign of stopping, and I even made myself one a few years back. I didn’t wear it much, though – not for being a jumpsuit, but for having an overly long crotch that irritated my thighs – and it’s since gone into the great charity shop bag in the sky.

I share all this only to illustrate that I’ve got a checkered personal history when it comes to sewing jumpsuits. But when the Paper Theory Zadie Jumpsuit pattern was released, I knew I wasn’t done with jumpsuits just yet. It had all the right details – a flattering wrap-style bodice that made it easy to get in and out of, big pockets, and a casual-yet-dressy vibe that I just couldn’t shake. And that my girl Sanchia was the model for it was just the cherry on top!!

So I bought it, followed quickly by some fabric earmarked for it – this heathered rayon/viscose twill from Mood Fabrics, which I brought back in my suitcase from the States last month. In total this fabric cost me $50 (about £40), which seems reasonable considering the final garment and the wears it’s gotten already.

A Japanese print day dress

I can’t start this post today without first sending out a massive, massive THANK YOU to everyone who’ve commented and gotten in touch on all forms of social media to say congratulations on my book deal. The response has absolutely exceeded my expectations and I’ve been overwhelmed by the love, enthusiasm, and confidence you all have in me. Thank you.

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on the book full-time, putting all my energy, thoughts, energy, and even my dreams into the book (no, really – a solution to one of my design problems actually came to me in a dream!). But I know it’s easy to get burned out in a project like this so I try very, very hard to Keep Weekends Sacred and not work on the book. But I still want to do a little bit of sewing here and there (not just sock loom knitting!), so I’ve been doing quick little weekend projects unrelated to the book that I can clear out of my sewing room in time for activewear sewing during the week.

Last month’s issue of Love Sewing magazine included McCalls 7381 free and I thought it looked like a nice little dress to make up over a weekend (if you’re in the States, this pattern’s on sale through the end of today, just fyi!). My stash is absolutely at capacity with fabrics for book samples, so I wanted to use up something I already had and found a Japanese print cotton that my friend Alex brought me back from Tomato in Tokyo last winter. Ideally, the pattern should use something less structured and more flowy than a quilting cotton, but I don’t tend to buy many fabrics like that, so I figured it’d be fine for a casual summer day dress.

An ice blue running gilet

Last weekend I was overcome by the desire to make something.

I didn’t want anything long or involved, so I grabbed some ice blue soft shell I’d bought from Plush Addict and thought I’d make myself a gilet to keep my body warm when I go on long runs and springtime cycle rides. But I’d only bought a half meter to test out the fabric since they don’t have samples and it cost like £3 for the half meter. When it arrived, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting (so I’m glad I didn’t buy the full yardage!) but the fabric itself was too nice not to use for something. It’s got a dense, tightly woven exterior with a very slight stretch and the inside is a soft microfleece. So it’s both water resistant and warm, and I thought it’d be great for wearing over a base layer for the upcoming transitional weather.

But I was impatient, and made lots of mistakes. I planned to use a block I’ve been working on (but cut a size larger to account for less stretch than I’d drafted for), but the fabric was so short it only came to an inch or two below the waist. “Fine”, I thought, “I’ll just have a cropped gilet or add a hem band or something!” and merrily cut away. It was only then I realised that I’d cut the Front on the fold, forgetting in my haste that I wanted to have a front zipper or snap placket and I’d now not given myself enough room.

So rather than cause further damage, I opted to step back, put it aside, and come back to it later when I was less of a liability.

Burda magazine Jan 2017

I think Burda Towers must’ve taken a break for the holidays or something because everyone I know received this issue really late for some reason! But better late than never to kick off a brand new year of Burda sewing patterns, and this one’s not only got the traditional January carnival costumes (and nary a “recycled water bottle lady” bonkers one in sight!) but also… activewear! 😝

The Donna Karan x Liberty shirt

This shirt is a bit of a departure for me, both in terms of what I normally wear, but also in terms of what I normally sew. I don’t tend to wear many button-down shirts, because, if I’m because brutally honest, I really can’t be bothered to pick up an iron outside of when I’m sewing! And I don’t usually wear prints outside of activewear, and certainly not Liberty ones (way too twee for me!).

But a few weeks ago, I knew I had the Sewing Weekender coming up and I wanted a project to take along for the open sew session that didn’t involve an overlocker (since there’d be only two for 50 sewists) and that wasn’t anything close to the Work Sewing I’d been doing so much of recently.

Two quick tops

Not everything I made while I was ill was an involved as my navy Harriet jacket – I made quite a few small and quick projects, too, just to boost my mood. I wanted to show you two different quick tops today – it didn’t really feel like I had enough to say about either to warrant separate posts, but I wanted to document them just the same.

Seamwork Akita in Japanese floral

My friend Alex brought me back a ton of fabrics fro Tomato in Tokyo (which you’ll be seeing more of, I’m certain!), but this narrow, textured floral shrunk a TON in the wash and was narrow to begin with, so afterwards it was very narrow indeed. So I pulled out the Seamwork Akita blouse pattern since it only needs a narrow, non-directional print fabric because it’s just one pattern piece (no shoulder seams). In the end, the pattern piece touched both selvedges and I had to trim off some of the sleeve depth to fit it in!

I haven’t seen this pattern made up much, but I was disappointed in the fit – this runs HUGE, even for an over-the-head top (in contrast, the woven, over-the-head Sorbetto pattern fits much closer). In hindsight, I think I could’ve made the absolute smallest size and still be swimming in it (and no, no printing errors!). I chopped off about 6 inches in length, too, and it’s still on the long side.

But the worst bit is that the bust point is ridiculously low, which just looks bad. Luckily, it gets lost in such a busy print, but it’s still disappointing.

By the time I tried it on and realised it was massive, I didn’t have any bias fabric left to do the neckline facing, so instead I pulled out some silk charmeuse bias strips I had squirrelled away and used those to finish off the neckline in my preferred way. This is actually my favourite part of this top!

I’ve worn it with layers on top because I like the colours, but I’m glad I didn’t make it in an expensive silk like I was planning! The other Seamwork patterns I’ve made have been true to size, so I’m not sure what happened here…

Sweaty Betty striped tech tee

I had some weird, small offcuts of tech fabrics from my Sweaty Betty-working friend, one of which was this teal, black, and grey striped, slubby wicking teeshirt material. I cycle commute in street clothes that I wear at work all day (unless it’s pouring, in which case I change into dry clothes at the office) and I like to have a base layer which dries quickly. I never get that sweaty on my ride, but when I was ill it felt a bit harder than it does normally, so tech tees were useful.

Burda magazine February 2016

Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and excitement over my Tessellate Tee pattern and Add On Pack! I’ve got so many different versions of this top to show you, both casual ones and workout ones, too. I’m really behind on photoshoots due to us sailing our boat to a new mooring (for the first time in 9 years!) and the associated stress making me vulnerable to some nasty bug that’s going round. But I’m hoping I’ll feel well enough to take some photos this weekend, and you’ll get to see some new backgrounds to the photos as well!

But in amongst all the moving melée (plus some added fun in sorting out a new gift subscription), the latest Burda magazine arrived so I thought I’d share my picks with you before it’s out of date!

Burda tend to have their style feature types they run at least once a year, and apparently this is the issue for the “done to death” urban safari styling for 2016. I’m really bored with the concept after so many years of subscribing, but there are some nice patterns here if you look beyond the khaki. I particularly like this boxy blouse, which I think looks fantastic made up in silk or any other soft, flowing fabrics. The wrap skirt isn’t terribly practical if you live in a windy city since that wrap is fully open in front and not just a deep pleat.

They’ve crammed a lot of safari separates into a single page here – a long sleeved blouse, trousers with an interesting silhouette (these two are also offered together as a jumpsuit), plus a dress version of the boxy blouse (funny how lengthening it just turns it into a big ol’ sack!) and a really tragic belted men’s safari jacket. Just… no.

Striped Cabarita collared tee

As soon as I saw Cabarita, I knew I had to sew it. It’s got some really unique features I’d not seen in other knit tops – the vintage-inspired collar is the most obvious one, but the back V-neck and choice of short or long dolman sleeves really do make this a cut above the average teeshirt pattern.

Cabarita is the first of the “RiFFs” range from Cake Patterns and is available either printed or as a pdf from Etsy (I opted for pdf!) (Though note that if you ordered the printed version, you need to download the back neck binding piece here as it was accidentally omitted!)

Cake Patterns usually have lengthy and descriptive, very beginner-friendly instructions, but Steph started a side-range of “RiFF” patterns that have the same level of professional drafting, but with brief, text-only instructions and no layout diagrams, intended for more advanced sewists who just want the pattern (hello, that sounds like me!). Crucially, though, they still feature the (now signature) “draw your own side seams” method. When I compared my drawn pattern pieces to my knit sloper, they were scarily close (from the bust down), so this method really does work!

Now, a bit of a confession: I wasn’t entirely sold on the the collar at first. I thought maybe it might look a bit too costume vintagey, and might get in the way or flop around a bit. But I’m glad I included it as I really like it now, and it really does add to this pattern, which might be a bit too plan in front otherwise.

When I sew this top again, though, I’ll a) use lightweight knit interfacing on the collar so it stays in place a bit better (rather than the edges folding over, like you can see below right) and b) attach it so that the seam is on the right side and therefore hidden under the collar as it hangs, negating the need for any understitching on a narrow serged seam allowance.

This fabric is a lovely and soft viscose jersey in brown and turquoise from Minerva (and also comes in brown/pink and brown/orange colourways). Minerva don’t do half metres so I took the plunge and only ordered 1m, and I’m happy to report that I could easily fit the shorter-sleeved version into it.

Parisian jeans and a geometric Wiksten tee

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.