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Little shoots of Spring

Like little green shoots poking through the earth as the warmth of Spring approaches, I feel like my sewing productivity and creativity is just pushing through from all angles at the moment. I’m so proud that so many of you love my Steeplechase Leggings pattern as much as I do (and I’ve got loads more to share!) but I wanted to share a bunch of smaller things I’ve been getting on with…

Have you ever heard of Sock Stop? It’s a bit like puffy paint we used in the 90s, but it’s intended to paint onto the bottoms of socks and slippers to prevent slips and falls. I bought
some from Guthrie & Ghani recently to see if it helps keep activewear hems in place without requiring silicone elastic (which can be a bit fiddly to sew on). I’ve tried it out on the hems of my Steeplechase capris (which you’ll see soon) and I want to test them out on my next cycle ride…

I can’t believe my birthday’s nearly here again – it seems like I only just made my galaxy-print sheath dress! I celebrated early with my BFF Pip, and she very kindly bought me this Secrets of Sewing Lingerie book and a metre of gorgeous silk chiffon from Dalston Mills! I’m super impressed by the variety and styles of panties, bras, camisoles, garter belts, and accessories in the book, but I want to try out a few patterns before I post a review.

A Mountain of Your Makes (Part Two)

Following on from yesterday’s Part One, I’ve got a whole new heap of activewear sewing inspiration coming your way. You ladies have been so busy sewing up a storm, and I love that you get so excited when I release a new pattern like the Surf to Summit Tops that you make it all in droves!

Winnie’s fabulous peacock print Duathlon capris


Read more…

Cidell’s winter running Surf to Summit Top for her husband, Jordan


Read more…

Katherine’s green cherries runderwear (included in my Threshold Shorts pattern)


Read more…

Veloswer’s kiwi-styled cycling Surf to Summit Top


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Carey’s teal and white Surf to Summit Top


Read more…

Two stylin' sports bras

I’ve had a few people ask me, “When are you going to release a sports bra pattern?” And to be honest, the short answer is that I have no plans to. My aim has always been to create exercise patterns for designs that aren’t already available, and in my opinion, there’s already a great compression sports bra pattern* out there, Jalie 2563, hiding in the guise of a “Sports top”.

I recently found out that my favourite sports bra pattern is being discontinued (Moving Comfort’s “Phoebe”, boo!), so this was the push I needed to sew up a few more of my own, ready for the next few months of marathon training. I was already cutting into my lycra scraps to create Running armband pockets to fundraise for Argentina, so I cut out some sports bra pieces at the same time when I saw I could fit them in.

The result is two sports bras, one made with Funkifabrics Triathlon (Aqua) print lycra and UK Fabrics navy blue nylon lycra shoulder straps, and one made from UK Fabrics Leopard print nylon lycra topped with aqua nylon lycra (also from UK Fabrics but long sold out). You may remember these fabrics from a bunch of former projects – my triathlon print leggings, my ladies’ cycling Surf to Summit version, my cheetah print leggings, my men’s running Surf to Summit, and my aqua & yellow piping Surf to Summit. Never let it be said I don’t get my money’s worth!

These two were made assembly-line style, so as I sewed the seams on one, I’d do the other at the same time. Happily the colours are similar enough that I could do this without having to rethread all the time.

A lime and powder blue bra set

Ugh, what a crappy holiday. I caught a cold on the 23rd, which then took a merry journey through all my insides throughout the festive season. I was ill with a cough, snotty sinuses, headache, chest infection, etc for the entire two week holidays. By Day 12 I dragged myself to the GP who gave me antibiotics lest it turn into pneumonia, and it was only on the final weekend that I started to feel a little bit better. But I feel like I deserve a holiday do-over in a few weeks – I got cheated out of so much time – there were so many things I wanted to go done…

I’m not sure why, but when I’m ill, I turn to sewing lingerie. Maybe the lace and pretty things bring me comfort, or maybe it’s that the small pieces don’t require standing up to go to the iron. Who knows! In any case, when I was able to sit up without feeling dizzy, I pulled out the Orange Lingerie Marlborough bra pattern again, this time to match a pair of Lacey Thongs I made last winter that have been waiting for a mate this long.


The colours are weird here – the photos below are more indicative of the true colours

I tried to sew a bra from this fabric and lace a while back, but it was an utter FAIL – not even good enough to document, just one for immediately cutting off the hardware and binning. So it took me a while to want to cut into the lace again – not until I had the success of my first Marlborough bra in fact!

I used some interesting fringed elastic from MacCulloch & Wallis as a feature on the Lacey Thongs, splitting it in half and using it as piping in addition to the waistband treatment. I also (clearly) used the stretch lace throughout instead of just on the wings, too.

A Yellow Lace Marlborough bra (that fits!)

I have a long and rather conflicted history with bra sewing. I sewed my first bra five years ago, but despite being an accomplished seamstress and having a really standard body shape, I still haven’t managed to sew a single bra that I’m happy enough to wear on a regular basis in the time since.

Until now.

I knew Orange Lingerie had a bra pattern in the works for the better part of a year, and I knew her bra construction book was awesome, and, when I met Norma on her trip to London last year, she gave me bra fitting advice in a restaurant toilet – and still when she finally released the Marlborough bra pattern I was skeptical. That’s just how burned I’ve been by bra patterns in the past.

But I eventually did break down and buy it, with the thought to throw out all my other tweaks, calculations, traced RTW pieces, and just start fresh with this pattern and see where to go from there.

Choosing a size was actually the most difficult part for me – despite being a 34B in pretty much every RTW bra brand ever, the different formulas used to calculate bra sizes online are insane. Various calculation methods have said I’m anywhere from a 40A (Orange Lingerie’s method) to a 34DD (Bra size calculator’s method), both of which are just laughable (and yes, before you tell me to go get sized in person, I’ve done that in the past, and they said I actually am a 34B). So I threw both out and just made my RTW size, a 34B, with no changes.

Before cutting into anything good, I first made a black test version – it’s unlined with unfinished edges, with various bits cut off of old RTW bras, and “plunge” underwires that were a bit too short. But it freaking fit.

I wasn’t about to get too excited (I’ve been down that road before, declaring I’d perfected bra fit, finally, only to have problems emerge over time and wear). So I wore it for a week or two. And it still fit well. So I cut into the good stuff.

Everything in this pale yellow version is from my (rather extensive) lingerie sewing stash, and I hadn’t remembered until afterwards, but this gorgeous lace was actually a gift from Norma herself, when she came to visit London! You may notice that my straps have an M&S lingerie brand on them, even. Yes, I definitely recycle when the RTW parts are nearly-new and save me some time!

Dates for Your Calendar

There are some big things happening in my sewing world over the next month or two you should know about (no, not another pattern release just yet though I am working on the next one already!). So get out your calendar and take note of these…

Monday 13 October

Spoonflower have announced another free shipping day (international shipping, too)!. This is a perfect opportunity to try out our Fehr Trade x Laurie King exercise fabrics if you haven’t already. The fabrics coordinate perfectly with my sewing patterns so you only need to buy one yard of wicking fabric to get coordinating colours and prints.


Seen above, the VNA Top and Duathlon Shorts (booty length) in the coordinating “Maps” citrine & black colourway.

For UK buyers, this means you save $9 on shipping, and if you buy one yard of the Performance Piqué it should fall under the HMRC exemption and you won’t get hit with nasty surprise customs charges.

Thursday 16 October

Next Thursday evening I will be teaching the Slouchy Breton Tee class at the Thriftystitcher studio in Stoke Newington (London), and there’s still space for you to join!


Me in my Purple & green Slouchy Breton Tee

This class uses a pattern drafted exclusively for the class, and has the magic ability of fitting everyone I’ve taught so far without needing an FBA! Magic. Stripey fabric is provided just you just need to turn up and enjoy learning the stretch fabric basics, and go home with your own tee and exclusive pattern.

Tuesday 21 October

OMG, it’s the return of the Great British Sewing Bee, but with a twist! The first of three charity specials for BBC Children in Need airs at 8pm, featuring celebrities who have never sewn before, going through a set of three challenges. Dum dum DAH!

I’m super excited for these to air because, well, I may have spent half my summer working behind-the-scenes on these (there’s a blog post ready for when I’m able to post it!), so I can’t wait to see the finished episodes!

Also, I can confirm that these Pudsey ironing board covers are super cute! Serious bargain at £10 (for charity!), if you ask me.

Book Review: Demystifying Bra Fitting & Construction

While I’m away on holiday I thought I’d keep you all entertained with a series of posts on books I’ve bought over the past year or so and never really quite talked about. Not a single one of them is a “beginning sewing book”, either, so for those of you who are a bit sick of seeing the same books being released over and over, well, you’re in for a treat this week.

First up is a book which I talked about a while back when it was released as an e-book, but I thought it was worth a revisit as it’s just been released in print.

The print edition has the same content as the e-book, with full colour photos and really very excellent advice on both fitting and construction that I just haven’t seen elsewhere, in print or online. If you missed my earlier review, the condensed version is that this is really what you need in order to make a bra pattern fit you, and then sew it all together. I’ve sewn with Kwik Sew bra patterns before and even though their instructions are held up to be really good, it doesn’t even come close to the level of detail in this book.

Plus, she tells you how to make a muslin (toile) so that you don’t get all the way to the end of sewing a gorgeous bra, only to find out in the final step it doesn’t fit properly. Which is what I usually end up doing, and then getting discouraged and not sewing another one for months (speaking of, I’m probably due for another spate of bra sewing soon!)

Londoners – Come sew with me! Teeshirts, Leggings and Panties!

I’m teaching a bunch more classes in the next month and wanted to let you all know in case any of you Londoners fancied coming and learning about the joys of stretch fabrics from me!

All of the classes are aimed at beginners – you should know the basics of a sewing machine, but don’t necessarily have ever worked with stretch fabrics before. You’ll get to know the fun of an overlocker, the joys of a twin needle, and come away with a newfound greed for all things jerseys.

They all take place at the ThriftyStitcher studio in Stoke Newington, right by Clissold Park (an easy walk from Canonbury Overground or there are tons of buses), and include unlimited tea, coffee, and biccies to fuel your sewing.

Sew a Classic Breton Tee

Sunday 30 March, 14:30-18:00
Does your life need a little ooh la la? Is there a certain je ne sais quoi missing from your wardrobe? Learn to sew the classic Breton tee with us! You should already be comfortable using a sewing machine, and this class will cover stretch fabric basics as well as an introduction to the overlocker (serger).

You’ll make a striped, long or 3/4 sleeved teeshirt using a pattern, which will give you the skills you need to sew your own teeshirts (long or short sleeved) at home.

Panty Party Part Duex

The Panty Party last week was more than a little awesome! I honestly don’t know where the time went, but one minute we were altering my Lacey Thong pattern to have full-cheek coverage, and the next minute the clock read 10pm!

I was joined by Michelle, Debbie, and Amy up at the Thriftystitcher studio in Stoke Newington (North London – an easy walk from Canonbury Overground) where they all got to pick through a huge pile of laces, fabric, and elastics, and learned how to best cut lace, deal with two different types of lingerie elastics, and how to do that cool “burrito method” of concealing seams.

They even got their first taste of the overlockers (sergers), and I could tell by their eyes that they’re hooked!

If you’re sad you missed out, then rejoice! Because the next Panty Party has been announced for Friday 28 March! Again, if you’re not into wearing thongs, that’s not a problem, we’ll have a couple of different styles of patterns to choose from and you’ll get to learn the techniques to make your own panties at home. All the ladies were amazed at how easy and fun it was!

Book tickets for the next Panty Party on 28 March HERE!

I will also be teaching teeshirt and leggings classes in the next few weeks so stay tuned for those dates! (hint: keep your Sundays free!)

PS: If you live too far away and want a mere taste of the “in person” me, have a watch of my latest #ExtraMile video for London Marathon, where I explain my reasons for running in less than 3 minutes!

A lace & silver weekend

I ended up having a fun and full weekend of sewing this weekend, partially because I lost a few days work last week to a spa day (omg!) and a full day of filming (for Extra Mile – if you haven’t already seen my blue wigged self all over your internets, watch here!). Part of the work sewing was to get a bunch of stuff done on my next pattern, which is digitised, graded, and now ready for my second test version before I test it out on some unsuspecting local athletes, mwahahah! I also had a few projects for private clients to get done, as well, so I had to change mental “gears” a few times, too.

Another bit of work sewing was actually a bit too fun to be strictly considered “work”, and that’s because I needed to sew up a fresh sample pair of my free Lacey Thong pattern to bring along to the Panty Party class this Thursday, 13 February. There are still a few spots left if you want to snag them and join the fun, btw – I mean, seriously, look at this pile of lace and fabrics that arrived last week which is all for the class! Don’t you want to dive right in?!

To clarify: The Panty party class is at the ThriftyStitcher studio in Stoke Newington, North London, and it’s this Thursday!

I’ve probably made at least ten versions of my Lacey Thong for myself, but, umm, I wear those, and it’s pretty creepy and gross to be showing other people your worn underwear, even if it’s clean, eww. So that’s why I needed to sew up a fresh sample pair to show off in the class, so I selected this thin, blue burnout jersey and some white lace and paired it with navy blue satin-edged elastic.

Isn’t she pretty? I also received a comment today from a Frenchman who made this utterly gorgeous satin & lace pair for his woman. So it doesn’t have to be a one-way lingerie sewing street – you could book your man on the course as a “surprise” and let him sew a pair for you! Ha!

I got to a point early on Sunday where I’d finished all the work sewing I wanted to accomplish, so I pulled out the Named “Jamie Jeans” pattern (now with US Letter-compatible printing and multi-sized, btw). I’ve been eyeing up this pattern since it was released, but it took it disappearing when the new collection was released to make me realise how much I wanted to sew it! Since a-l-l of my clothes are falling off me right now (thanks, running!) I am in serious need of trousers and even my leggings are baggy, so these were the top of my Fun Sewing list.