An epic and nonstop September Roundup

Posting was a bit light around here in September, but not intentionally so. Coming back from Argentina immediately into building work (which pretty much occupied every morning, most Fridays, and some evenings too) and being away every single weekend in September just left me flattened. A month on and I’m still exhausted, and frankly, trying to figure out if I’m ill, or if it’s diet-related, or just a really slow recovery from international competition.

So I must apologise to all the people out there who are waiting on emails from me – when I’m too tired to sit up, I don’t tend to open my laptop to write out proper replies, let along blog posts (this one has taken me about 4-5 sessions spread out over a week to write). But I did manage to get all the Sewing Indie Month posts together that I needed to, and I wanted to gather them together along with a bunch of other bits and pieces you may have missed if you’re not following me on Twitter or Instagram.

Imagine Gnats Wrap-style Bess top Tutorial

One of the few finished garments I managed to make in September was a fancy, wrap-style hack of the Imagine Gnats Bess top, which I wrote a full tutorial for, too.

I loved the shoulder detailing on the original pattern, but I thought the shoulder seaming looked reminiscent of kimonos, so I changed the front pattern piece to be a wrap-style instead.

But the fabrics in my stash that went together best ended up being a brocade skirt that my friend Pip gifted me after she lost weight, and a poly satin that (I think?) a neighbour gifted to me years ago, so this ended up being a refashion project, too!

Anyway, you can read more about it over at Imagine Gnats, and last week I also wrote an Activewear patterns roundup for Rachael, too. Definitely take a look at her shop while you’re over there – she’s a keen cyclist and has just taken delivery of a bunch of wicking lycra in some lovely colours (she’s US-based)!

Also for Sewing Indie Month, Maison Fleur interviewed me and asked a lot of interesting questions I’d not thought about before, which was nice! I may have also hinted about a few big things happening in January, which will also coincidentally start my 10th year of!

Seamwork Radio

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Seamwork magazine, having subscribed from the very first issue, made quite a few of their patterns, and written a bunch of articles for them, so I was literally dancing at my desk when the first episode of Seamwork Radio was released last week!

Interview with Kelli from True Bias

I first heard about True Bias patterns when Kelli released her first pattern last year – the Hudson Pant were an indie sewing phenomenon, and it seemed I was about the only woman who hasn’t sewn a pair yet (and believe me, they’re still on my To Sew List for someday!). I’ve had the privilege of talking to Kelli to find out more about her sewing, aesthetics, and what’s up next, so read on to find out more about the lady behind the label… – melissa

Kelli in her Hudson Pant pattern

You kept a sewing blog for quite a few years before starting True Bias – what was the impetus for starting a pattern company?

Yes, I started my blog about 3 1/2 years ago. When I started it, I always knew that it would somehow turn into a business for me, I just wasn’t sure in what way. I was new to motherhood, having an identity crisis, and needed something to work towards. I was passionate about sewing and the community, so it made sense to focus my efforts there. I entertained the idea of a fabric store for awhile but it didn’t stick. I knew of a few independant pattern companies at the time and loved what they were doing. I had taken a couple of patternmaking and draping classes in college, but I knew that I didn’t have the skills yet to start a company. It wasn’t until after moving to NYC and starting classes at FIT that my confidence and abilities grew. My first pattern, the Hudson pant, was a huge leap of faith for me. And it was super slow at the beginning and scary. I wasn’t sure that this was all going to work, but it did and I am so glad.

What’s the single biggest lesson you learned so far?

Don’t worry about what other people are doing, just be true to yourself. This is SO hard though. The indie pattern market has become very saturated and we are all influenced by the same trends to one extent or another. This means there is going to be some overlap. There have been multiple times when I have seen a sneak peek on instagram of another designer’s pattern and I have had a total freakout because it looks similar to something I have been working on for months. It’s scary because you don’t want it to appear that you are copying, but in the end you have to be true to yourself and your own ideas. Like I said, it’s really hard though.

Yoga-style PB Jam Leggings – a tutorial by Lolita Patterns

Sewing Indie Month is back again so you can look forward to a whole month of fun interviews, tutorials, pattern sales, and sewing contests (with a ton of prizes!) throughout the month of September. Just like last year, when I interviewed Hannah from Sinbad & Sailor and you got a great tutorial from Heath Lou hacking my XYT Workout Top into a maxi dress, you’ll get to read some great, different content from my usual sort, starting off with this fabulous tutorial by Amity of Lolita Patterns. You may recall that I pattern tested her Sugar Plum dress a few years ago (and I still wear it!), plus we got to meet up when she visited London a while back, too. So read on and see how she adapted my PB Jam Leggings pattern to have wider legs and a yoga-style waistband, too! – melissa

I was so lucky to get paired with Melissa for the tutorial post for SIM. While my life before baby was filled with court visits (I was an attorney) and professional wear, my new mom life incorporates a LOT of yoga pants. Casual wear is my life now! So it was unbelievably perfect to get paired with Fehr Trade patterns.


For my tutorial I turned her very stylish PB Jam Leggings into yoga pants! This required a different and thicker waistband, and a widening of the legs. Can I just tell you that my pants turned out amazing?!? I was going to just go black pants with the gray houndstooth contrast but at the last second remembered I had some orange stretch piping I had bought for a project but had since bought a different shade of orange. This piping made the pants. Literally. The piping looks so amazing I have worn these pants 4 times already and I’ve only had them made for a week!


I’m here to share pictures and a tutorial on how I transformed the PB Jam leggings into yoga pants. To do this, I used a pair of yoga pants I loved to see how wide I wanted each part of the leg.

Wide leg alteration

Excuse the dog hair—such is the life with three dogs 🙂

The bottom of the leg was 10 inches.


In between the knee and the hem was 8 7/8, and the knee was 8 5/8. I took these measurements and wrote them on the diagram so I could compare and make sure I didn’t forget them. I also measured the inseam and how far down the knee began from the waist. These are all helpful measurements when altering the pattern to match the yoga pants we are copying from.


Now keep in mind, these are all just one side of the leg (so the entire circumference would be twice the measurement) and also do not include seam allowances. But this measurement is perfect because the pattern pieces work this way.

An orange VNA Top with revamped Threshold Shorts

This top has spent quite a long time brewing in my brain before coming into reality. I really wanted to have another VNA Top for exercising since I loved my others so much, and I’ve had this project near the top of my To Sew queue for so long. But I had so many other projects that had to be done for deadlines, that this just kept getting pushed aside, until finally I had a spare weekend day to just do some Fun Sewing for myself!

Remember my VNA Top pattern I released last summer – the one inspired by a 1930s Vionnet gown? Or to give it the full blurb: This is a pattern for a close-fitting, sleeveless workout top inspired by a 1930s Vionnet evening gown. It features a front V-neck, curved under bust seam, and distinctive angular seaming in back. Neckline and armhole edges are finished with binding, and there are no side seams.

A whirlwind of activity

You can pretty much assume by this point that if I’ve gone a bit quiet on this site, then it probably means I’ve been sewing up a storm behind the scenes and am just struggling to find the time to tell you all about it! And yes, it’s happened again… So I’ll try and catch you up on a bunch of things at once!

Sewing Indie Month – Pattern Bundle 1

Remember how much fun Sewing Indie Month was last year?? It was a full month full of interviews, great tutorials (like Heather Lou showing you how to turn my XYT Workout Top into a summer maxi dress!), and fabulous Sew Along prizes and it’s back again this September!

But because us pattern designers know how much you all love a bargain, we’ve joined forces to create two pattern bundles in advance of Sewing Indie Month, and the first pattern bundle is on sale now through Wednesday 12 August only.

Click through to see all the included patterns and the different tiers, including some brand new patterns exclusive to this bundle! The cool thing here is that you’re not only buying these patterns for well under the usual price, but 20% of bundle proceeds will be donated to the International Folk Art Alliance, which provides education and exhibition opportunities to folk artists from around the world. So you’re helping out other crafters, too!

I made the Lolita Patterns Sugar Plum dress a few years ago and honestly, it’s one I still wear in regular rotation (and looks so much better than the photos in my post, annoyingly!). The Sugar Plum dress is a knit/woven hybrid, but the patterns in this first bundle are mostly wovens, so the sale timing gives you time to make muslins before the sewalong contest begins in September while supporting small women-owned businesses and raising money for charity. You can see the size range for each of the included patterns here, too.

Aztec Duathlon Shorts

Psychologically, short shorts make me run faster. Well, not really, but I think they do, and that’s all I need! So, a few weeks ago, with the British Transplant Games coming up, I managed to squeeze out a new pair of Duathlon Shorts for the occasion!

Sewing Indie Month: My Buff tutorial and interview

How’s everyone enjoying Sewing Indie Month so far? Has anyone entered the contests yet? There’s still a bit of time left if you haven’t got everything together yet…

Sew a Buff

Last week I wrote a really simple but useful tutorial which appeared on the Seamster Patterns blog – How to sew your own Buff. If you’re not familiar with a Buff, it’s a simple tube of stretchy fabric that can be worn a million different ways…

They’re really popular with a wide variety of active people for both winter and summer wear and literally could not be easier to sew, so head over to the Seamster Patterns site to read how to make your own!

My interview with Yuki

I personally think the best part of Sewing Indie Month has been connecting with other indie designers, and I was tickled to find out I was paired with Yuki from Waffle Patterns, because I’d been admiring her designs on Etsy for ages!

She interviewed me over email recently, and you can read my interview here, which went live yesterday.

Classes and my next pattern

I’ve got quite a few more stretch fabric classes coming up in the next few weeks at the Thrifty Stitcher studio, including a full “Stretchtacular!” day on Sunday 29 June, where you learn to sew leggings in the morning and a Breton tee in the afternoon! If you live outside London this means you only have to travel once to get both classes… Or I’ve also still got some space in this Thursday’s leggings class if you’re more local. These are all suited to beginners who have basic knowledge of a sewing machine, but haven’t necessarily worked with stretch fabrics or overlockers before. You’ll get to take your garment and pattern home with you, and I’ve had many students not only wear theirs home, but turn around and sew more that same week!

The stretch class listings are here.

Sewing Indie Month: An interview with Hannah from Sinbad & Sailor

As part of the wonderful Sewing Indie Month celebrations, each of us are collaborating and getting to know each other throughout the month of May. In the planning stages, I’d asked to partner with Sinbad & Sailor for a whole bunch of reasons – I’d been following her on Twitter for ages, I love the timelessness of her designs, and she also lives in London, yet somehow we’ve never managed to meet up!

Of course our first thought was to meet up in a pub somewhere and do the interview in person, but then we realised it’d probably be a lot more coherent if I interviewed her over email and celebrated with a drink later instead! So go grab a drink of your choice and come get to know Hannah!

1. How did you come up with the name Sinbad and Sailor? Do I sense a maritime connection at all?
No maritime connection in the S&S story it’s all land-based I’m afraid… When I was starting out it took me a long time to find the perfect name as I wanted something which reflected East London, where I’m based, living just one road away from where my Granddad grew up and also sewing (of course!). One friend suggested I look at Cockney Rhyming Slang (which is a fairly modern slang where phrases are derived from taking an expression which rhymes with a word and then using that expression instead of the word – ie. apples and pears = stairs) and see if anything had the right ring to it. I discovered that ‘Sinbad and sailor’ is cockney rhyming slang for tailor and I knew straight away that was perfect.

2. What gave you the push to start your own pattern company? Did you train in fashion, or did you segue from another career?
I have been sewing since school and studied fine art sculpture at UAL after which I went back to sewing in earnest. I’m a recipe following kinda gal and was always using patterns but found that the offerings felt very dated, hardly reflecting any current trends or styles which combined with their confusing instructions format created a frustrating sewing experience. Walking to work one day it struck me that if I was getting frustrated by the current shortfalls in sewing patterns perhaps other people were too. Rather than waiting and hoping that someone else would create these patterns I decided to be proactive and start making them myself.

3. In your mind, who is the quintessential S&S customer? What is her style?
The quintessential S&S customer is a woman who values her independence and likes to express herself through the way she dresses. Her style would be her interpretation of current trends and she’d be bold in her use of colour and prints when sewing (after all how are you going to rake in compliments with a plain back top?!)

Sewing Indie Month: An XYT maxi dress tutorial from Closet Case Files

As part of the wonderful Sewing Indie Month celebrations, each of us are collaborating and sharing tutorials throughout the month of May. During the planning phase of the month, I requested to partner with Heather from Closet Case Files as she’s also a fellow stretch fabrics fanatic plus I loved her Bombshell Swimsuit pattern (if only English summers ever got warm enough to swim, eh?).

Well, she’s since gone and released Nettie, a fantastic bodysuit and bodycon dress pattern, and it’s already on my To-Sew list for later this summer. I can never wear RTW ones as my torso is too long, so I’m excited to finally wear some! (That, and her dress looks SO much like Wolford’s £300+ dresses!)

As we were discussing which tutorials to do, Heather was really up for hacking my XYT Workout Top pattern and making it not only something suitable for casualwear, but also a dress! She’s gone and done it, so if you’d like to make your own, read on…

The tutorial

Hello everyone! Heather here from Closet Case Files. I’m on Fehr Trade today to share a tutorial for Sewing Indie Month.

One of the things I love most about the independent pattern community is the way that the unique taste and point of view of each designer shines through in their work. I was really excited to be paired with Melissa for Sewing Indie Month; I have tremendous respect for her skills and knowledge, and love her cool and modern take on active wear. It was a good pairing, since we both love designing for stretch fabrics. For my Fehr Trade tutorial, I thought it would be fun to put a Closet Case spin on the XYT Workout Top.

Since I’m not the jogging type of girl (more of a leisurely bike riding lass), I thought it would be fun to take the great design lines of the XYT and make a summer maxi dress. I loved the racerback option, and thought it could look sexy and sporty in a mix of lycra and powermesh.

XYT Workout top by Closet Case Files-12

Sewing Indie Month

I’m back now from a ridiculously gluttonous week in Brittany, and having devoured every spec of seafood and salted caramel in the land, I’ve returned right into the throws of Sewing Indie Month!


Mari (of Disparate Disciples, now Seamster Patterns) approached me months ago asking if I’d like to join in, and now it’s finally here! What’s here, you may ask? Well, it’s a month-long celebration and collaboration between myself and 20 other indie pattern designers, with interviews, tutorials, sewalongs, and a mahoosive bucket of prizes to be won (in all, over $1,000 worth!).

There’s something new going up on one of the participating designer sites every single day in May – mine aren’t scheduled until the end of the month, but you can see a calendar listing everything that’s going up (be sure to click “Read More” on each date to see everything!). There’s already 6 days full of free tutorials and interviews to pour through over your lunch hour today…

For me the best part is being able to collaborate with other designers whose work I really admire, but whom I haven’t really had a chance to talk much with. I love being part of a community of creative women who are all passionate about what we do, and see others in our field as friends and comrades instead of competitors! In the spirit of collaboration, this month would be nothing if it wasn’t for each of us doing our own little part – I mean, I’m only involved directly in four posts, but together we’ve crammed May full of great stuff!