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James’s black velvet tee

Just before we went to France a few weeks ago, James expressed a desire for a black velvet teeshirt with a V-neck and 3/4 length sleeves, but lamented that he wasn’t finding any in the shops and asked if I could make him one. He specifically said that he loved the way the grey Paxson I made for him last winter fits, and when I offered to fix the few shoulder/neckline issues in it, he said he liked it that way, so I left the pattern as-is apart from turning the round neck into a V and shortening the sleeves.

A pale blue Seamwork Eugene henley

The final Christmas present I made this year was a long-sleeved top for James, using the Seamwork Eugene Henley top pattern and some pale blue cotton lycra jersey he’d picked out last time we were at Ditto Fabrics in Brighton. I’d inadvertently picked up a remnant of their cotton lycra jersey previously and James raved about the fabric so much that I finally just brought a scrap of it in to their Brighton store for Gill to fondle and ID for me! Luckily for him, it’s something they always have in stock in a bunch of different colours

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!)

Lightspeed Leggings sewing pattern – out now!

This pattern has been a long time in the making. I originally wanted to make a leggings pattern for men way back in 2014 after I’d released the Surf to Summit Top pattern for men. I made quite a few muslin attempts over the years but I kept getting distracted and discouraged by the lack of drafting information (anywhere!) for a close fitting men’s crotch curve, so it kept being put aside for other patterns ideas.

But I finally resolved to crack it, and I’m proud that the resulting pattern provides a comfortable fit for active men! There are front and back panels and a one-piece leg (so men can finally have crazy patterned leggings without a side seam getting in the way, too!), and the shorts length can be used equally well for base layers under shorts, too.

Cycling 120 miles with bacon and ikat

The Dunwich Dynamo isn’t a race – it’s not even an organised event. It’s much more a rite-of passage – an annual 120 mile bike ride from London Fields in east London to Dunwich, on the Suffolk coast. It’s been going for over 20 years and the route is just “known”, and the date is the Saturday closest to the full moon in July. Riders set off sometime between 7 and 9pm, and generally don’t make it to the beach at Dunwich until sunrise, or some hours thereafter.

I’ve written a full report on my ride over at my RiverRunner site if you’d like to hear more about what it’s like to cycle for 9.5 hours on a heavy mountain bike having previously only ridden 30 miles. It was tough, and some parts were more enjoyable than others!

This post is more about what I sewed in the leadup to the race, both for James and myself. My copy of the latest Sewing Bee book arrived two weeks ago, and I knew I wanted to sew up the men’s cycling jersey, just to see how it compares to my Surf to Summit men’s top, if nothing else! I did a bit of work behind the scenes on the show and book this year, and I helped out a bit with the instructions for this one but never had the pattern to sew it up myself until my finished book arrived.

An American flag shirt for 4th of July

I can’t explain why, but my husband James really likes to dress over the top for the 4th of July each year. I mean, I’m the one who’s American, yet he’s the one wearing stars & stripes sneakers, jeans, and now a shirt, too.

We visited a Mennonite fabric store when we were visiting friends in Pennsylvania in April, and they had a staggering array of quilting cottons (as you’d expect, really). James had lots of patriotic designs to choose from, but settled on this one with repeated American flags with an off-white, almost textured look to it.

A fuss-free red shirt for James

While my own wardrobe may be 99% own-sewn, I’m only one woman and I like to concentrate my sewing for James into items he can’t regularly find in shops. Often this means loud and garish shirts in unusual prints (just wait til 4th of July…), but occasionally it’s for practical reasons. In this case, he has two Dakine shirts that are made from some sort of thin, technical woven that dries really quickly and resists wrinkling. So he got just a wee bit excited when he saw Fabric.com was stocking something that looked really similar. They called it “workwear fabric” (it’s no longer available) – a thin, 100% polyester woven that resists wrinkling and dries quickly – perfect for him to wear to cycle into work without looking like a sweaty mess all day.

A Trio of Paxson Tops

James has lost a lot of weight in the last six months, from a combination of cycle commuting, cutting back his drinking to three nights a week, and both of us eating low carb. He’s managed to shift his beer belly (“food baby!”) in a matter of months, but it also means that most of his clothes are too big for him. So with a December birthday and Christmas, I managed to sew him three different versions of the Seamwork Paxson top pattern to try and fill in his wardrobe a bit.

The grey wool/viscose Paxson

This first Paxson was made for his birthday using a charcoal grey wool/viscose jersey from Fabric Godmother. It’s not the cheapest jersey out there but it feels so warm and you can just tell from the feel alone that it’s a high quality fabric. It washes nicely and has great stretch and recovery, and I totally recommend it.

This first version fit him fairly well straight off the pattern – it’s nice and slim fitting through the waist and hips, and the sleeves were plenty long enough, too. The only issues were really around the neck area, so I made a mental note to adjust the pattern…

The claret wool/viscose Paxson

This next version is almost identical to the first – the fabric is the exact same wool/viscose jersey from Fabric Godmonther, only in the claret colourway. Why change when he was so happy with the first version, right?