Blog

Another set of sofa slipcovers

After wrestling with the sticky velvet upholstery fabric last summer to make a set of slipcovers for our sofa, I swore it’d be a long, long time before I voluntarily sewed home dec again. But that was before we moved back into the tiny Captain’s Cabin on our boat (while renovations are still ongoing in the much larger, main living portion), and I had to stare at the hideous sofa fabric every single day.

Twin pairs of cycling jeans

I’ve been sewing my own jeans for something like twelve(?) years now. Over the years I’ve built up my own preferences in how I like to construct them, but also how I like to wear them. And since I took up cycle commuting a few years ago, I really dig the ability to, you know, move in my jeans. I love know I can hop on a bike or break into a run at any time and my clothing isn’t going to slow me down (which also cuts down on the amount of clothing I have to haul in to the office!).

So I started making adaptations to my standard jeans pattern (which at one point started life as a Burda mag pattern but has morphed so many times it’s probably more accurate to just call it self drafted) to make them easier to cycle in (more on this later). By my count, these two are my 4th and 5th pairs of cycling jeans building on the ones from…

Pleated denim-look leggings (again!)

Apologies for my absence recently – I only really have Fridays to devote to all things FehrTrade (writing blog posts, answering emails, boring admin, developing new patterns, answering B2B requests, etc) and I had a few Fridays where I took on some paid work, and now I’ve been sick for the past two weeks, and frankly, blog posts are the bottom of the priority pile so they’re what gets dropped if I run out of time.

And also I’m still playing catchup with garments I made quite a while ago, which isn’t the most motivating to write about even though I love the garments themselves. Like these, which I’ve worn at least once a week since I finished them. These leggings were actually the last garment cut out before we moved out of the flat in December, and the first garment sewed back in my little floating sewing cave in January!

How to make your Split Shorts less revealing

I designed the Split Shorts in my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book to have the greatest mobility possible to minimise the chance of the inseams riding up while running (a really common issue with running shorts!). These shorts do show a bit of thigh, but the back of the shorts stay close to the body, and the inseams really do stay put. In fact, they can be mistaken for a skort or running skirt while you’re in motion, and they look really feminine!

But some of you may find that the Split Shorts as drafted in the book are a little more revealing than you’d like, and the good news is that there are two easy ways to adjust for this! Note that by making these less revealing, though, you are limiting the mobility of the leg, so be sure to make incremental steps and sew and test your muslins along the way to make sure you can still move effectively in them. But if you’re planning to wear these for an activity that doesn’t require the extreme amount of forward leg motion needed for running, then modesty may be more important to you than the range of motion anyway!

How to add more room to your Active Jacket collar

Today I want to give you a little pattern hack that can help if you find that the opening edge of your Active Jacket (or Cycling Top) from my “Sew Your Own Activewear” book is a bit too snug. This can especially be an issue for the smaller sizes, or if your fabric has very little crosswise stretch.

This is a really easy adjustment to make, either after you’ve drafted the collar according to the instructions on page 80 (or page 58 for the Cycling Top), or after you’ve already got your finished pieces cut out.

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.

Friday goodies

Give yourself a big round of applause because… team, we made it through another week! I know, I once took this for granted, too, but it really does feel like an accomplishment these days, and this decidedly grey, damp, and cold February weather here in London certainly isn’t helping. So I thought I’d talk today about a bunch of little things that have come up recently that make me happy, so that possibly they’ll brighten your day a little bit, too.

First up is a bit of news from the world of press (did you see I’ve started compiling these sort of things over on a new and shiny Press page, btw?), where I’m featured in the latest issue of Women’s Running (UK) magazine! Seriously – you can’t miss me – as soon as you open the cover, there I am (with my mom!) on the contents page, plus a lovely two page spread inside, too.

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.

A visit to the fit studio…

You’ve probably not heard of them (neither had I!), but I was recently introduced to Alvanon, who manufacture a whole host of fitting mannequins for the apparel industry. They’re a family company who work with the biggest retail manufacturers (whom they usually can’t say due to NDAs, but believe me, you definitely have some in your closet!), but they’re really supportive of little indie designers, too, and invited me to come and use their fit studio yesterday afternoon.

Now, being from a science background myself, I freaking love that Alvanon’s are so based in science and data analysis, and founded by a doctor who was seeing a real disconnect between actual bodies and fitting dummies. The measurements for all of their models are all based on body scans of actual women (none of this “we measured women in the 1970s and have been using it ever since” crap!), and they’ve got different forms for European, American, Asian, UK, etc body types, and you can get forms based on specific countries, too. They’ve got squishy lingerie forms with different cup sizes, men’s sizes, pregnancy bellies, various arm configurations, all the kiddies from toddlers up through tweens, and a bunch of Plus-sized forms based, again, on actual women’s bodies.

A Quick Ombré Teeshirt

I only bought this fabric from Abakhan Liverpool only two weekends ago but I’ve already sewn it up and worn it already!

As you’ll recall, I was pretty restrained upstairs at my first Abakhan experience, but then I went down into the bargain basement, and saw this ombré teeshirting! Even then, I could see it was quite thin with very little stretch but I loved it too much to let it go! I paid about a fiver for the length (about 1.5-2m?), and there’s probably enough left for a second tee, too, to be honest. So this is quite the bargain make!