Starry Eyed Archer


Oh, I am such a tardy blogger!  I made this shirt back in October (I think?!) and meant to blog it in December as I hadn’t managed to before so that it coincided with Archer Appreciation month.  Missed that deadline too, but better late than never!!

Not a  lot to say about the Grainline Archer really, it’s a lovely pattern that goes together really well and in this flannel it is also super super warm.  I am wearing this thing to death and whilst I’m going to put some shaping into the side seams for further iterations, I’m still happy with this one.

The only variation I made from Jen’s excellent instructions was to use Four Square Walls’ collar tutorial.  I’d used another method on my Cami dress (Yep, another yet to be blogged make) back in September and ripped it out in frustration.  Andrea’s tutorial came at just the right time!

I love this shirt, it’s comfortable and warm.  Because of the bazoomer’s it hangs straight down so I’ll look at adding a little shape in future versions, but it’s more of a winner than anything else as far as I’m concerned!!

You’ve Got The Moon On Your Pyjamas, And The Stars In Your Eyes…

I have to thank Mr Paul Weller for the post title as it’s the first two lines of the chorus to “Moon On Your Pyjamas” and it just seemed perfect to me for the Pyjama Party!

I used McCalls 5248 as the pattern for my PJ trousers.  The pattern has a front and back pattern piece, so an in and out seam, which differs a little from Karen’s pattern.  I also altered the pattern from a drawstring to an elasticated waist, and my technique was the same as the method Karen used.

The first pair (made from a thrifted bed sheet and there is tons of fabric left over…) were a bit too wide in the leg.  I also experimented with making cropped trousers with them too.  Initially they were too short so I added some big cuffs to the bottom to add a bit more length.  They’re comfy, but weird to sleep in as they bunch up round my knees.  I’m gonna keep them though as they’re perfect for warmer evenings when I’m just lounging round the house and (if it ever stops raining and warms up a bit) the garden.

So I altered the pattern by trimming an inch off both the front and back piece of the outer seam to narrow the leg and made two more full length trousers.  These were mainly constructed on my serger, using four threads.  So there’s the second line of stitching reinforcing the seam.  It was one of those ‘Why didn’t I think of that?!’ moments when I read Karen’s post on using a serger to make them.

Anyway, these two were made construction line style, repeating the same process for each of them in turn.  I’d already decided to add a tag so that I could work out which way round they went (mkI pair was marked, post construction, with some sharpie).  But the hanging loop that was suggested was added in too – I used some silver grey rayon seam binding for my loops.

My summer PJs are made from a white cotton lawn printed with pink roses.  It’s much more ditzy than I’d normally go for.  It’s been in my stash since I started sewing and was a cheap eBay win.  I have no idea to its providence and there’s no mark on the selvedge.  The trousers are light as air though and will be lovely if we ever have warm evenings.

To go with them I made the cami length Cinnamon slip from Colette patterns.  All I can say is that this slip is incredibly flattering (and hubby likes it…) and was an absolute cinch to put together, despite being cut on the bias.  I cut a 16 in the body and the cups are an 18.  The only adjustment I’ll make next time is to increase the cup size a bit more as I have a ridiculous size G chest and a little more room would be good!

Then of course there are the flaming plaid trousers.  These need to have an old band tour t-shirt to go with them I think!  But I don’t have one so it’ll be a red or orange vest top.  There is some limited plaid matching going on across the PJs, but there is no matching at all from the front to the back.  And heck, they’re PJs so I’m not going to stress about it.

These are the opposite of my dainty PJs.  They’ve got some weight to them and are really thick and snuggly.  They’ve been worn a lot with a pair of walking socks and a hoodie since they’ve been finished as they’re soooo toasty.  Perfect for curling up and watching a film with mug of hot chocolate, or glass of Vin Chaud. Mmmmmm.

And here’s my bedside table!  As you can see my reading is, well, sewing centric…  Does anyone else find that stuff sticks in their head better if they’ve read it just before going to sleep?

We’ve got Adele Margolis’ book “How To Make Clothes That Fit and Flatter”, the Colette Sewing Handbook, My iPad, “High Fashion Sewing Secrets” by Claire Shaeffer and “Sewing with Sergers.  I haven’t read any fiction for a while.  The last fiction book I read was The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

Actually, I lie a little!  It was really The Gruffalo to Boy for his bedtime story last night.  Can any other parents recite that off by heart too?

I have to admit that making these PJs has got my sewing MoJo back.  I was feeling a bit meh and unmotivated but these quick, easy and satisfying makes have got me back to a happy place.  There are now three, yes three, dresses in the pipeline.  An aqua linen blend Pastille, Harry’s Christening dress and a dress for a “25th wedding anniversary + 50th and 55th Birthday party”!  Oh, and Sewaholic’s new dress pattern would be perfect for work…

And, finally, one of the songs I learnt as a Guide and then passed on to my Guides and then Scouts when I was a young leader:

I wear my pink pajamas, in the summer when it’s hot. 
I wear my flannel nighties In the winter when it’s not. 
And sometimes in the springtime and sometimes in the fall, 
I jump right in between the sheets with nothing on at all

The Meringue of Wisdom

Or more accurately, complete lack of it!

Sorry its a bit wrinkled - I should have ironed it before modelling it!

The pattern is, of course, the Meringue Skirt pattern from The Colette Sewing Handbook.  And it is truly one of the cutest and simplest skirt patterns out there – even simpler than the Ginger skirt.


You start making it the day you have one of your wisdom teeth removed.  This makes something as simple as tracing a pattern some what of a challenge!

You decide that you don’t want an invisible zipper (in part because you can’t be bothered to wait and go into town to get one and there’s a perfectly good regular zipper in your sewing room).  So you’ll do a lapped zipper even though you’ve never done one on a faced garment before.  And you’re not going to do the simple version either, but the more involved ‘pro’ technique in the book.

You’re going to add a lining, but use the most unstable, frays as soon as you look at it material you own.

Brilliant recipe, hey?

Here’s how it turned out…

The skirt itself went together smoothly.  I then sewed the facing and lining together.  Again, so far, so good.  Unfortunately by this point the chalk marking differentiating which was the front and which was the back of the skirt had disappeared.  In the future I’ll mark it from the beginning rather than from over half way through, with a safety pin!) I started to try and fit the facing making the incorrect choice as to which panel of the skirt was the front.  This was based on where I’d left the gap for the zipper.

By this point I became convinced that I’d screwed up the facing and so hacked the zip out as it was on the wrong side and I’d already served everything together.  Buh-bye facing mark 1, and the lining.

It wasn’t until I’d calmed down that I realised I should have just unpicked the zipper as I was having to do that anyway and I could have salvaged the facing too.  Gah.  I have to admit I walked away from it for a while when I realised just how stupid I’d been.  And to prevent myself doing anything else quite so stupid again!

So with facing mark 2 I went back to the skirt and it still wasn’t right.  I then got the pattern pieces out again and realised that I was back to front.  This also meant that the gap for the zipper was on the wrong side.  It was on the left rather than the right.

So I re-jigged the facing so the zipper was on the left and inserted it!  So, the skirt is now unlined, but does have a lapped zipper (albeit on the left, rather than the right).

Hand Picked Lapped Zipper

I hand picked the zipper to try and line the plaids up as well as I could.  A happy side effect was that I found it quite therapeutic and it put me in the right frame of mind for…

The scallops.  To my mind this is the area that makes or breaks this skirt.

I thought these would be the difficult bit, but after the facing  / which is the front, which is the back debacle, they were really straight forward!  I took a stitch straight across at the apex between each scallop which helped get a crisp finish. I also trimmed the seam allowances quite closely before notching and clipping using this Thread’s Tutorial on scallops.  I’m really pleased with the result as the scallops look pretty even and well defined.

This is the first time I’ve ever worked with wool and I have to say I’m converted.  It presses well and is a dream to sew.  The stitched sink in and disappear which is brilliant, unless you need to unpick anything!  The plaid wool was a swap with Annabelle and the zip was already being hoarded so it didn’t cost me anything, other than a small amount of my sanity.  I am wiser as a result though…

Adjustments for this version:
Tapered waist to hip for fit
Tapered hip to hem to give more of a pencil skirt silhouette

Adjustments for future versions:
Add a lining
Reinforce scalloped area with bias strips of organza
Try not to be so stupid!

Make Again?

No 2 Past the Post: Minoru Jacket

This is my biggest project since I started sewing my own clothes:  The Minoru Jacket by Sewaholic Patterns.

I love this jacket!  I didn’t add piping as I’d planned because *looks rather sheepish* I forgot (just in case any of you were wondering where it was).

This is a substantial jacket as I made it from cotton canvas that I proofed with NikWax.  It has some heft to it, but isn’t too heavy to wear.  It’s lighter than a waxed jacket but heavier than my normal winter jacket (a ski coat).

Like others, its garnered compliments from complete strangers, which is rather flattering!  Checking the fit during the muslin stage means that I can wear it whilst driving the car and its also passed the dog walk with a toddler test.  An unexpected bonus is that pre-treating the canvas means that once mud has dried, it just brushes off.  I haven’t tested it in the rain yet – it was full on waterproofs downpours early part of last week and whilst I think this would be fine in a shower I didn’t feel up to testing in that sort of weather!

Lining Detail

The sleeves are lined with regular lining fabric so that long sleeves are a breeze when I’m wearing it.  The body is lined in cotton flannel which is sooo soft.  The side seam pockets and hood are also lined with flannel too and are lovely and cosy.  Boy likes to hide his hands in the hood and stroke the fabric if I’m carrying him.

I had a bit of a headache with the zips.  I was originally going to have plain black ones but I couldn’t find two that matched in the same gauge and that started to bug me.  Then I was in John Lewis for something and just had to pop in the haberdashery department (well, it would be rude not to) and saw reflective zips!  So I now have reflective zips on my collar and the front.  Probably quite a good idea considering how dark this fabric is and I live in a village with no streetlights…

Construction wise the most challenging bit was stitching in the ditch along the body and neck seam.  It doesn’t line up on the inside very well.  There was a lot of bulk on one side and only two layers of fabric on the other.  Thankfully it isn’t too obvious unless you’re inspecting it closely.  You want to inspect closely?!  Oh…

Can you see the wonky stitching?

When I make my summer version I will make a couple of changes in the construction though.  If I include a hood I’ll finish the seam allowances when I attach the collar to the lining and bodice before attaching the two together.  You can see the unfinished edges when you peek inside the hood pocket.  Or I may fold them into the body of the jacket instead, but that may feel a bit odd around the shoulders.  I’ll also be sure to finish every seam before topstitching for my own satisfaction more than anything else!

I will also buy three reels of thread.  I bought two for this version and only used a regular stitch for the topstitching and there was literally just a foot left on the spool at the end and the bobbin had just run out.

I’m really pleased with the fit although I need to reduce some of the ease in the waist as I’ve lost weight since fitting this and its now got too much ease there – I’ll have to futz with the elastic channel to cinch it in a bit, but it’s a good reason to have to futz really!

Adjustments made for this version:
Shortened the torso
Shortened the sleeves
Changed the hood construction to include a lining

Adjustments for future versions:
Reduce flare from waist
Reduce ease at waist
Alter construction regarding collar
Seam finish all seams before topstitching
Omit internal pockets
Add welt pockets instead of in-seam ones?

Finished Star Light Jasmine

When I was organising these posts I wanted to have some sort of order to them, so decided that I really ought to post them in the order they were finished.  So here’s my Jasmine – the first item that I finished of the four I revealed yesterday…

I am wearing this top to death at the moment!  I love it so much.  It’s comfortable, it looks elegant but is quite effortless when getting dressed in the morning.  It has some personality but is still work appropriate.  Taking the time to sort the fit was so definitely worth it!

Another bonus is that the cotton shirting I made this from is becoming softer and softer with each laundering too – a quality I’d overlooked in the fabric having made my decision  primarily based on the fact it had stars on it and that the pattern placement was random so I didn’t have to do any pattern matching!

Oh, and it also has the Boy’s seal of approval as the first time I wore it he commented “Mummy pretty”!  Yup, I love it.

The construction was straight forward (another benefit of making a muslin!).  You really do need to grade the seams at the shoulders though as you end up with a lot of layers there so fabric choice is also important.  Cotton shirting is about the limit of what you can get away with in my opinion.  Another option would be to omit the facing and use bias binding instead as the top stitching securing it would be hidden by the collar and ties.  I may be a little odd though as I quite like facings on a garment…

I also used organza as an interfacing on the facings and cuffs – thank you Annabelle!  I have to admit that I don’t think I’ll be using a lot of fusible interfacing going forward now unless its in a bag!  I much prefer the the hand of a sew-in interfacing and fabric combination.  Plus you don’t get that weird ripply, bubbly effect that fusible interfacing can give after a few washes (my hand mades go in the machine unless the fabric says otherwise).

This pattern has so much potential.  I’ve got some vintage anchor print rayon cotton blend that I think will be turned into a Jasmine, possibly with the short ties though.  I would also love to do one with a white bodice, navy collar and ties with red flat piping around the collar edge and also between the cuffs and sleeve.

Adjustments Made:
My usual FBA
Broad back adjustment

Adjustments for Future Versions:
Shorten the sleeve length by about 1″.  The cuffs get scrunched up in the crook of my elbow when my arms are bent – for instance when I’m typing.

Make Again:  Yes!

Whilst I’m not taking part in one week one pattern hosted by Tilly, I may do my own week at a later date and this pattern would be a serious contender…

A Rather Revealing Post!

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself there – you’ve got to love Carry on double entendre humour!

First, up apologies for the absence around these parts lately.  I’m quite relieved though that it’s not just me (lladybird, Ginger, Farbenfreude…)

Anyway, you may remember that I mentioned that I’d actually managed to complete a few garments before I dropped off the face of the earth.  All I had to do was take some photographs and then it rained.  For three days.  Then it was freezing – I had to defrost the car to get to work!  Day five was Friday but it was the end of the working week and I couldn’t face organising (read as making myself look vaguely presentable) photos that evening.  Yesterday was a lovely day but involved another Husband drama – now it’s too much work and not enough hours in the day!  (Yep, I know…)

So, today is one of those perfect spring days, warm and sunny.  So whilst Boy and Husband played with duplo downstairs, the camera and I reacquainted ourselves to photograph 4, yes FOUR! finished items.  Wanna see?

All three are new additions to my wardrobe and the Meringue of Wisdom is something you didn’t even know I’d finished!  I’ve got some more in-depth posts already written on each item as when I wrote it all out it was one loooooong post and I didn’t want to bore you all to tears…

Here’s a quick summary though:  Shall we start from the outside?

The jacket is, of course, The Minoru Jacket by Sewaholic Patterns.  The jacket I have been planning and withering on about since the pattern was released last year.

The top is The Jasmine Blouse by Colette Patterns.  Lets just say for now that I love it, wear it to death and the futzing with the fit was seriously worth it.

The skirt is The Meringue Skirt from The Colette Sewing Handbook.  This is the quick make I wanted after completing my Minoru.  Due to my own stupidity it wasn’t quite so quick and easy as I had to complicate it…

Finally there’s my yet to be modelled Taffy Jasmine (inspired by Alessa’s post here) which is a mash up of the above Jasmine pattern and the Taffy Blouse from The Colette Sewing Handbook.  I need a cami to go under this and all my vest tops didn’t work with the neck line or were the wrong colour (white does NOT work under this!).

So, it looks like I’ll be going from a week of near silence to a week of back to back posts! Next up on my sewing table will be a Renfrew and I’ll photograph the dartless FBA that I’ve worked out for it, just in case its useful for anyone else…

PS – don’t forget to enter my give away for an Adele P Margolis book here…

Of Clouds and Silver Linings


In some ways this week has been a success, but in others an epic fail!

The not so great stuff:

Husband has been suffering a bit from depression due to lack of work, which affected me causing me to lose the plot at my place of employment on Wednesday.  Tears and sniffling in the middle of the office is not the normal me!  Husband is a plumber and heating engineer and the early part of every year is always slow work wise, not just for him but for the whole sector.  However he is not good at doing nothing and when given too much time to think he gets tunnel vision and starts to spiral and its very hard to pull him out of it.  I try and support him but its quite tough sometimes, particularly when I’m dealing with the effects of…

My medication being doubled.  Hello insomnia, nausea and generally feeling rubbish until I become accustomed to the higher dose!

Then to top it all I managed to infect my work laptop with such an evil virus (and I have no idea where it came from) that it had to be wiped and re-built.  So I didn’t manage to do anything productive until about 2pm yesterday.  I feel so guilty about it even though I can’t think where I’d been online that would have had such a nasty file.  Ack.

But on the flip side there’s the good stuff!

I’ve found a way to give Husband some control over the work situation.  One of which is to finally sort a website out for him so I’ve made an appointment to go and see a hosting and design company next week to see about getting a site made.  He’s also been contacted to do some short notice work and to quote for some jobs so I hope his mood is lifting…

Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods

Thursday night I went to the theatre to see the touring production of Legally Blonde: The Musical.  I enjoyed it, although for me the characters of Paulette and Kyle stole the show – probably because they provide the comedy and I was in need of some laughter!  The portrayal of Elle Woods was more annoying to me than Reese Witherspoon’s in the film although I warmed to it much more in the second half.  And no, I hadn’t been drinking!

I also wore a me made outfit – my Beignet and Sencha.  Both now need altering though as I’ve lost over 9lb since the start of the year.  The Sencha should be quite straight forward but the Beignet is going to take some thinking about and will probably involve removing the facing at the waistband and then nipping in at each seam…

And finally I finished two items this week!  My Taffy Jasmine and my Minoru!  I’m really pleased with both and will try and get some pictures to bore you all silly with next week if the sun ever appears today…

Colette Sewing Handbook Pattern: Meringue

So all I have to do now is decide what to make next…  I think a work appropriate Meringue is a strong contender as is a Renfrew.  If anyone has any tips for cleaning and caring for wool garments I’d love to hear them!

Wool Plaid from Annabelle

I also plan to get out my Renfrew pattern and do a FBA so that I can make one or two of those as well!  Would you like me to photograph the steps I’ve worked out for a dart less FBA on this top for a tutorial?  Lauren uses the technique of grading from one size to another, but as I start at the top end of the size chart that’s not an option for me.  Let me know in the comments…

PS – don’t forget to enter my give away here

Final Finished Object of 2011

And it needs ironing!

I actually finished this yesterday and wore it to a house party last night and have been wearing it again today.  Hence it needs a good iron!  I also need to apologise for the photography – done in the bomb site that is the office using the photo booth programme on the MAC.  I apologise that it’s a bit of a poor effort on the photography front.  I feel a little as if a bus has hit me, but I really wanted to share this final item from 2011 and say Hi before the year came to an end!

This is my finished Sencha and I have to say I rather love it and love wearing it.  A definite win.

Front View

I love the wider neckline as I don’t feel constricted in it at all, although I may make it a little less broad next time around.

Back View

I also really like the back.  I used 10 domed shanked buttons and paired them all the way down the back.  I also sewed a couple of snaps beneath the waist as I noticed that other bloggers didn’t like the way it gaped open – it makes for a much neater ‘un-tucked’ wear!

Button Detail
Snaps to hold beneath the waist closed

I didn’t fold the sleeves as far back as the pattern suggested, which covers a little more of my upper arms.

The only change I think I’d make to this is to size it down a bit as it is a little baggy in places.  There’s about 3″ of ease at the waist and some excess fabric in the chest area where about 2″ of length could be taken out.

Tuck to take out length above chest

As you can see, with the length across the chest taken out, it does look a bit better!  But I’ve still got a very comfortable, and wearable top.  So a definite win and one that I’ll be making again.  I didn’t even mind the hand sewing aspects – I actually quite enjoyed it!  Does this mean that I’m becoming a proper sewist/seamstress/person who sews?!

Oh, and I’ve also cut my hair off!

Note to Self: Desk Light = Harsh Lighting!

What ever you’re up to tonight, I hope you have a wonderful last few hours of 2011, and here’s to 2012!

Finished Beignet

I’ve finally finished my Beignet!  I sewed the buttons on last night whilst Mr watched the Gadget Show.

Facing, lining and a glimpse of pocket...

So, here we have the facing, lining and a glimpse of the pocket in the side seam.  I love these colours!

Needs a belt!

And here’s me with poor lighting with my hands in said pockets.  Please excuse the creasing around the waist – its not that its tight.  In fact I could have gone down a size at the waist, (I cut an 18 at the waist and 16 at the hips) it’s just that the corduroy seems to crease like nobodies business!

Beignet no hands in pockets
Hands out of pockets

Much smoother lines when I haven’t got my hands stuffed in the pockets.  Is it me or are the pockets quite a way back on this pattern?  The side seams are literally down my sides and I do think I prefer my pockets slightly further forward…

Ooh, the flash worked!

Yep, definitely needs a belt of some sorts…  I haven’t sewn the belt loops on yet as I don’t want to limit what size belt to use with this skirt.  I know many will just put a belt over them, but I’ve already got a non existent waist (although beignet suggests that I might, it lies) so I don’t want to add any more bulk there.

For MkII I think I may taper the lower sides so that the hem is narrower – I think it’ll give the illusion of more curves?

So, would I make it again?  Very definitely yes!  I’m thinking that mkII will be the original planned Navy, with bound button holes but a size smaller (there’s a LOT of ease at the waist) and with the tapered silhouette I mentioned.

The easiest bit?  The general construction of the outer shell fabric.
The hardest bit?  The curve where the facing meets the lining.  I had to go slow and steady and baste the two together as using pins was disastrous and led to it being ripped out, re-pinned, hand basted and then sewn.  Which worked!
The scariest bit?  Twelve buttonholes!  Practice helped, and then when ripping them using fray check on both sides before I cut them open, and using pins before each bar-tack as a buffer for the seam ripper.

All in I’m very happy with the skirt!  The model could do with some improvement (and I’m not fishing for compliments there, its just a statement of fact) but I like that this skirt suggests that I have some sort of waist!

Autumn Knitting: A Finished Object

Here’s my slouchy beret, all finished and blocked and ready to wear!

Star Crossed Beret

This pattern (available on Ravelry for free!) knitted up really quickly and I have to admit that I am in love with this deep teal colour (most accurately displayed in the picture above).  Below is a close up of the cabling and the centre swirl is created by the decreases.  I always forget (as a somewhat sporadic knitter) how much difference blocking makes!

Cable and Decrease Detail

Next up on my autumn knitting plan is a pair of these Evangeline fingerless gloves in the same wool.  The pattern is available on Ravelry for $3 CAD about £1.96 at todays date.  Reading the notes it’s apparent that a thumb gusset is needed, so I’ve already re-written the pattern to include this.  If you read the information on Ravelry, everything you need is there to enable you to do the same.

Oh, and go and see this refashion done by Zoe for Miss P’s Refashioners series.  Grandma kilt to sexy pencil skirt complete with fish tail.  Makes me want to find a grandma kilt…