Sewing Chat

Catch-up Chit chat

Hey there peeps! Long time no speak. I started writing a catch-up post at the beginning of lockdown here in the UK but I found it so hard to find the right words that it got abandoned. I still don’t know the right words but I’m trying again anyway as I miss writing here.

I hope you’re all safe and well. I won’t go into the pandemic much because I’d be in danger of writing an essay. I’m very lucky and haven’t been been affected that badly. I’m lucky to have a job where I can work from home, none of my friends or family have caught Covid and I’m an introvert so staying home hasn’t been too hard for me.

The hardest part of lockdown for me was not seeing my mum at the beginning. I’m lucky that she lives close enough that now we’re allowed to have extended households here in Wales I can see her again – more than before probably!

I’ve been working from home for 6 months now and my work have massively embraced it. Like a lot of places they are going to adopt it on a longer term basis and as soon as we can get our of our lease on our office they will.

So I got a dog!

Meet Ivy

I’ve been desperate for a dog for a long time but as we both work full-time too far from home to call in during the day we’ve never got one. So working from home means I’m finally able to. The ex-partner of a friend of mine who passed away late last year had a litter of springer spaniels from their dog and it seemed like really good timing and a nice way to remember her.

She’s named after Ivy the Terrible from the Beano, which I loved as a child. But she’s also Ivy League when she’s a good girl. I’m hoping she’ll be a good running buddy when she’s old enough to go running. At the moment we’re sticking to the 5 minutes per month of their age rule so we can only go for 20 minute walks, which is quite hard to stick to!

The pandemic hasn’t been great for my anxiety and I’d become pretty agoraphobic so having a reason to go outside has been so good for me. Having a puppy also means people talk to you, which will be good for me too even if my social skills have gotten even worse than before!

But this is a sewing blog

In terms of sewing, I haven’t done a lot. I did a bit back in March and April but it tailed off. I made:

And I have these in progress:

The future

The manfriend and I made it official at the beginning of March so at some point there will be a wedding dress to make but who knows when with things the way they are.

I’m not really a big wedding person so I have suggested to him that we just get married now as soon as we can get a slot and then do the party part when we can as it may be years away and I want to be married to him now.

At the moment you can have up to 30 people at a wedding here but who knows how long that will last. I’ve already started mentally planning my “legal wedding” dress though… I’ve got 2.3m of midnight blue silk crepe de chine in my stash that I’d make either a tea dress or a wrap dress with.

We’ll see. But whatever dress I make at whatever point I’ll be sure to blog about it. Promise!

Other Sewing Plans

I haven’t done much sewing since we got Ivy at the beginning of June because she’s really clingy but also really naughty so I can’t go in the sewing room or she’d eat anything she found on the floor, which would undoubtedly include pins and pattern pieces as I’m not a tidy sewer. So I can only really sew when the manfriend is home and that’s usually when I’m either knackered or want to hang out with him rather than disappear upstairs. I have managed to snatch a bit of sewing time recently though, which has been nice.

As always I have plans coming out of my eyeballs. I’ve continued doing the wear log I mentioned at the beginning of the year so that has made me a lot more aware of what I’ve been choosing to wear most. Basically my stretchiest jeans, t-shirts and Blackwood cardigans. Which isn’t very inspired.

So I’d like to build up more comfortable clothes that look a bit nicer. Or even just more of the same to have more options to choose from. I bought the Deer and Doe Dressed ebook to help me plan a sort of WFH capsule wardrobe but I’ve got a bit stalled at the moodboard stage. I definitely see more elasticated trousers in my future though. I’ve really liked the look of the Pietra pants for ages but I didn’t want to support Closet Core Patterns. I had googled dupes of the pattern and even scoured the Burda site but I couldn’t find anything I liked as much so I caved. I’ve got a Style Arc pattern that’s elasticated at just the back to try too.

I’d also like some more comfy dresses. A surprise hit for me has been a fitted jersey dress my mum gave me a while back because it was too small for her. I have the Deer and Doe Givre pattern but haven’t made it because I thought I’d be too self conscious in it but it’s very similar to the dress so I plan to give that a go.

Other stuff

I’ve done some different crafting and I took a couple of paper flower making Zoom workshops. I took a sunflower one a shrub rose one and I really enjoyed them both. It was so nice to try a different craft and I love the flowers I made. I’ve signed up to the new kit subscription too.

I don’t really have anything else to report. It feels like my life revolves around the puppy these days – my camera roll certainly does! I’m also really busy at work so after I’ve finished and taken Ivy out all I want to do is vegetate.

But I’m healthy, happy and just wanted to check in with you guys. Take care everyone!

2019 in review

As promised I’m here to nerd out at you with my annual (biannual if you include Me Made May) Stat Attack.

I made 18 garments in 2019. That’s the least sewing I’ve done (or fewest completed garments at least) since 2015.

I think the main reason is that at the beginning of the year I was having a really tough time with my mental health. I had a terrible manager at work and I was really struggling because of him.

Fortunately he left in the summer and it made a huge difference. I have a much nicer big boss now (my little boss has always been the same and she’s great) who actually treats his staff with respect and trust. Work has been bananas in general this year though. I have been so busy, which I actually prefer and have so much more job satisfaction. It’s just been very tiring so I haven’t wanted to come home and bend over cutting things out or be shut away from the Manfriend sewing. I just want to sit on the sofa and decompress.

I know some people find that sewing offers that decompression and it does for me too, once I get going. It’s the getting going that is the problem.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t really sewn that much this year and a lot of the sewing I have done has been a lot of quick win easy stuff. I also (just remembered) that I did a three month career development programme at the end of the year. It came with quite a bit of homework so a lot of my evenings and weekends that would normally have been spent sewing were spent doing assignments and elearning.

What I made

The graph below shows what garment types I made. I included the usual categories even though they’re empty.

graph showing what I made by garment type

Not a very varied year this year. This ties in to what I said at the beginning of the post about quick, easy sewing projects. I was and still am in desperate need of tops though. I’ve made lots of dresses over the years but I wear jeans and a top far more than the dresses. So 13 tops is a good result.

Here’s the graph from earlier split into garment types for no real reason other than I got carried away and I enjoy the rainbow colours. There are no real trends that I can see. I have sewn fewer dresses the last two years but I don’t know that that’s something that will continue.

I’ve included a table of this one too because it was really hard to put in the alt text.

201420152016201720182019
Skirts312152
Tops251011813
Dresses76101083
Shorts/culottes100110
Trousers013020
Cardigans022720
Jackets000200
Other020200

Knits vs woven

It was a very heavily knit biased year this year because they’re quick, easy and they’re what I’m most in need of in my wardrobe.

Here’s the overall breakdown:

pie chart showing knits vs woven, there is only a very small wedge of woven
2 woven garments to 16 knit garments

And here you can see it split into garment types:

I only made two woven things and they were both Deer and Doe Melilot shirts. I really enjoy the process of sewing shirts. They’re a great thing to make in small time slots as there are lots of little steps so you feel like you achieve something each time.

I’ve been meaning to get some photos of them because they’re both the wrong size so I thought it’d make for an interesting blog post. One is a 40 and the other is a 44 but my measurements probably put me at a 42 – at least they did, my holiday and Christmas have increased them slightly so the 44 might be the right size now. I’ll need to check.

Prints vs solid

a pie chart showing solid vs print, the solid wedge is slightly smaller than a quarter, maybe a fifth

I really thought there’d be more solids than this. I think it’ll be really useful to see how my print to solid ratio in my wear count compares to this.

Pattern companies

Below is a graph to show what pattern companies I used. The overall scale is the number of things I made with a pattern from that company but the darker/purply blue colour is the number of patterns I used and the light blue is when there were repeats of the same pattern. I hope that makes sense.

a bar chart showing what my finished garments by pattern company

So there were no runaway winners in the favourite pattern or pattern company race this year. Though the Dixie DIY Ballet dress and Hey June Lane raglan are probably the real winners as I used them as the base of lots of things.

Going forward I’m going to try to only support pattern companies who have an inclusive size range. I’m still going to sew the patterns I already own that don’t have as wide a range as they should because I have already bought them so I don’t want that to be a waste of money. But I won’t be purchasing more from those companies until they expand their sizing range. I also need to make sure I tell the pattern companies when I would have bought one of their patterns if their size range was wider.

Remakes

I made 10 new patterns and remade 8, which seems fairly standard for me. Roughly half of what I make seems to be new patterns.

Fabric choices

Less of a viscose heavy year this year. I think because I sewed a few things with cotton jersey. The polyester was some scuba and a couple of bits of jersey that I got two things from each so it’s only actually three bits of polyester fabric.

Success Rate

This is a category that just popped into my head as two of the polyester things I made are both wadders that have never been worn and sadly I think that’s actually the case for quite a few of the things I made this year.

Of the 17 things I made for myself three of them have never been worn, two have only been worn once and another is only good for wearing around the house.

So that’s either a 72% or 67% success rate depending on whether you count the top I wear around the house as a fail or not.

The failures

Mostly the failures have been down to fabric and fit. Two of them were intended to be wearable toiles anyway, they just didn’t end up wearable. The other is a Seamwork Neenah top, which is polo-neck and my office is just too warm for polo-necks. I could and should wear it at home though.

One of the things I’ve once worn once is a Hey June Lane raglan I lengthened to dress length. Unfortunately, I didn’t lengthen it quite enough. The neckline also sits a bit too wide, which is a pain as it’s in sweatshirting fabric so it’s for cooler weather when I don’t want that much neck out.

The other is a dress I made from the Deer and Doe Sirocco jumpsuit pattern. I like it in theory but there are some fit issues around the armhole and upper chest. It also gaped a bit as the fabric relaxed through the day. It’s by no means unwearable, it’s just not something I reach for.

Stash

Fabric

I bought 20 pieces of fabric, totalling 32.2m and I used 15.5m so I haven’t continued my stashbusting streak sadly. I added 16.7m to the stash – but that does include 3m that I got as a Christmas present that I don’t feel should completely count.

Even worse is the fact that only 7m of the fabric I used this year was bought this year. So I clearly didn’t actually need to other 25.2 metres.

But, to look on the positive side, 32 metres is probably the least fabric I’ve bought in a year since I started sewing. It’s certainly the least I’ve bought since I started tracking it. So that’s good.

I spent £320.48 on fabric this year, which works out at an average of £9.95 per metre, which is up exactly £1 from last year. I did say I wanted to increase the average cost.

Patterns

It’s a very similar state of affairs when we look at patterns. I bought 19 patterns and 1 pattern magazine (Ottobre), with 10 patterns in. So that’s a total of 29 patterns. And I’ve sewn 1.5 (I used the bodice of the sirocco jumpsuit with a skirt, so that’s the half).

As with fabric, I bought fewer patterns than last year (42 including book patterns). It just feels worse because I didn’t sew as many of them. Last year was a 12% useage rate and this year was only 5%. So that’s something to work on.

I spent £162.92, which is £8.15 per pattern if you count the magazine as one or £5.62 per pattern if you count each pattern in the magazine individually.

Plans

Make Nine

I thought I’d revisit last year’s make nine plans to see how well I did – spoiler, it could hardly be worse.

I chose fabric instead of patterns for my make nine and I only sewed one of them. Oops.

I’m not going to choose a new Make Nine this year, I’m just going to carry on with those ones. If I carry on at this rate I’ll be done by the end of the decade at least….

2020

This year I’m hoping to just do a little bit more sewing really. Though I have another busy work year ahead of me, so I don’t know how much I’ll realistically get done. I have cut out two things to make – an a-line scuba skirt and an Anna Rose Tethys jumper.

I want to buy less too. I know I go into every year with that aim but I feel quite optimistic. I’m trying to follow a new rule where I’m not allowed to buy any fabric without getting a sample swatch first. It really helps curb the impulse buying. I have of course bought loads of swatches. But no fabric, apart from one piece I bought before I made the rule.

Other than that I have no real goals for 2020. How about you? Have you got lots of plans and goals or are you playing it more loose this year like me?

New Year Catch Up

Happy new year! I hope you’re all well and got to have a nice break over the holiday season. The Manfriend and I had a super long break as we went to Gran Canaria to celebrate his birthday the week before Christmas.

It was a lovely, relaxed holiday. Lots of reading in the sunshine and eating nice food. If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me sharing some handmade holiday outfit snaps on stories. Here they all are, plus a couple of others.

We came home on the 22nd and had to hurriedly get all the food shopping done and finish the last bits of present shenanigans before Christmas.

The main one being decorating my Christmas cakes. I’ve made my Nan a cake every Christmas for the last decade or so and last year I started making one for Aled’s parents too. Sometimes it feels like a massive rod for my own back but I really enjoyed it this year. I sat and moulded all my little creatures and then iced the cakes and added them.

Christmas cake with penguins decorating a christmas tree
My Nan’s cake
wedge shaped christmas cake with skiing penguins and a snowman
My in-laws’ cake

Christmas was nice but a bit strange. My mum went to stay with our family for Christmas so it was the first time I hadn’t seen her at Christmas. Apart from that it was business as usual. Lots of excellent food and TV watching. My highlight was World’s Strongest Man (as always) followed by The Witcher – I didn’t get the Henry Cavill thing until they put him in a bad blonde wig…

Oh, I also taught myself how to crochet – ish. I’m still learning and I have to really concentrate but I’m enjoying it a lot.

But anyway, sewing!

I am planning to repeat 2017 and 2018 and write a nerdy statistical review of 2019 post but I haven’t got round to it yet. I just wanted to write a little check in post and share something I’m planning to do in 2020.

Inspired by Alex from Sewrendity, I’m going to do a wardrobe/wear count this year. Basically I’m going to record everything I wear as I do for Me Made May but without deliberately trying to wear Me Made (and without daily photos) and then at the end of the year I’ll have shed-loads of data to nerd out over. I think it should give me some really interesting insights on what I wear, what I need and what I really don’t need.

Alex has lots more information about what she did and a Google Sheet you can download if you want to do your own count. I’m still figuring out how exactly what I want to record and how so I’ll probably check in with an update further down the line.

I’m sure there’s more I wanted to put in this post but everything I think of would fit better in my review post so I’ll leave it here for tonight. I’ll be back soon with my nerd-out post.

My 2018 sewing in graphs

Happy new year, folks! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas if you celebrate and a good break if you got to have one. My Christmas was lovely and betwixtmas was blissfully relaxed and lazy.

I had planned to do a bit of sewing to try to finish off some of my WIPs but I ate Christmas food and watched telly instead. We’d saved series 3 of Ultimate Beastmaster for Christmas, which I very much enjoyed but would have liked a little bit more Honeybadger (the male Australian host).

But anyway, I lured you in with talk of graphs. I enjoyed last year’s graph attack so much that I’m back with another one this year.

What I made

I made 27 garments this year, 24 for me and 3 for other people. They were all sewn as I didn’t do much knitting.

As seems to be usual for me they were mostly all tops and dresses but I did also sew quite a few skirts this year.

pie chart of garments made by type of garment

Knit vs Woven

pie chart of knits (48.1%) vs woven (51.2%)

It seems I am a straight down the middle girl on the knits vs wovens question as this is the second year in a row when there was only one garment in it.

It was a fairly even split between knit and woven for most garment types but knits took the lead on tops and wovens on dresses.

Printed v PDF

I’ve sewn a lot more printed patterns this year but I’m still a PDF girl at heart.

Indie v Big 4

I had intended to try a few more Big 4 1 patterns this year as I have a sizeable collection of them now from magazines and from shopping sprees when they’re on sale. Ooh, maybe I should pick out some of them and do Ella’s #sewsix with just Big Pattern patterns.

I also “self-drafted” a couple of patterns this year. Not that there was any real drafting involved in either of them. One is a knit pencil skirt pattern that I’ve used twice. The other was a dress made of rectangles of fabric shirred at the top. So nothing fancy.

Pattern companies

There was no romp away winner in the sewing pattern company category this year. The bars in the graph below shows how many garments I made from each pattern company and the line chart on it shows the number of different patterns from each company.

Remakes?

I’m surprised by how few patterns I resewed this year. The patterns I did sew again were:

  • True Bias Lander pants
  • True Bias Ogden cami
  • Dixie DIY Ballet dress t-shirt hack
  • Helen’s Closet Blackwood cardigan
  • My self drafted knit pencil skirt
  • The skirt from Simplicity 1418
  • New Look 6217 top in a knit (this was a fail)

Looking at it in a list it doesn’t seem as bad. There’s nothing wrong with sewing new patterns I suppose. I was just a bit surprised by it.

Fabric choices

No surprises that viscose is still my most used fabric as it is my one true love fibre. The percentage of cotton I used has nearly doubled from it’s 15% last year and polyester dropped from 29%.

Stash

Fabric

This year I bought 25 pieces of fabric totalling 41.1 metres, which is less than half the amount of fabric I bought last year! (Last year was 107.4 metres)

Though, my output was lower and I’ve cut out 48.75 metres (38 fabrics) and most of those things have become garments. Last year I’d cut out just under 69 metres of fabric but a lot of those things were sat waiting to be made into garments, which probably shouldn’t count.

So the stash DECREASED by 7.65 metres. Wooot! It’s not quite the 1 in: 2 out ratio I’d hoped for but I’m still really happy to have actually decreased it for the first time.

I also tracked how much I spent on fabric this year and it was £368, which is a little over £30 a month. I’m pretty happy with that, it’s not excessive and I can’t see myself managing to get it much lower. It’s an average cost per metre of £8.95, from a mixture of some really cheap fabric and a couple of pricier bits.

It’s a bit of strange thing to say but I think I’d like to get my average slightly higher next year. I’d like to buy fewer, higher quality fabrics. Though as I mostly shop online it can be hard to know what fabric is better quality and what is just more expensive.

Patterns

I didn’t specifically track patterns but I went back over my Bits n Bobbins posts for the year and counted up the patterns I bought. I bought 31 patterns plus 2 pattern books containing 5 and 6 patterns respectively. So in total that’s 42 new patterns.

And I have sewn 5 of them…

That’s not a great conversion rate, so that’s probably something I should look at this year. If I’m not going to make the pattern straight away there’s no need to buy it straight away.

I think I’ll track pattern purchases and cost this year too because I can’t keep buying more and more patterns I never make.

The verdict

I had a tough year at work and my mental health has continued to suffer so I tried not to put any pressure on myself to sew if I wasn’t feeling it. We also did a fair bit of decorating and I prioritised other hobbies like running. So I didn’t feel like I’d actually done much sewing. But 27 finished garments is the same as in 2016 and only 5 less than in 2017 so it’s fairly average for me.

I’d like to be a little more productive this year and work my way through my stash a bit. I’m really pleased with myself for decreasing my stash last year and I’m hopeful I can continue that trend.

If you’ve got this far I hope I haven’t bored you to tears with my nerdy sewing stat nonsense. If you like the nerdy stuff, is there anything else you think I should track? Or that you’d be interested in reading more about?

Bits and Bobbins: July-September

I can’t quite believe how quickly this year is whizzing away. It seems like only yesterday I was writing the first one of these round-up posts and now it’s nearly Christmas… (I know it’s not really but this year I seem to have mentally skipped spooky season and jumped straight to full on festive mode.)

So what have I been up to this quarter?

Projects finished

Can you tell I like blue? The red Ogden sticks out like a sore thumb!

July

August

  • True Bias Lander pants – blog post coming soon! Hopefully…
  • Christine Haynes Rumi dress

September

Projects in progress

I’ve nearly completed my Deer and Doe Reglisse dress. All I need to do is level the hem and hem it. So obviously it’s been sat on Doris the dressform for a fortnight. I’ve tried it on and I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping I would, which is probably what’s stalled the progress.

I also started work on my Chi-town chinos that have been cut out for a year. I’ve sewn the pockets and started the fly front but that’s as far as I got.

Stashbusting stats

Fabric in (this quarter): 9 m
Fabric out (this quarter): 11.8 m
Stashbusted (this quarter): -2.8 m

I was doing really well this quarter and bought hardly any fabric and then I went to a sewing meet up with lots of other Welsh sewers and bought 3.5 metres of fabric. Oops. Oh well, I still got rid of more than I bought this quarter.

Fabric in (year to date): 29.1 m
Fabric out (year to date): 34.5 m
Stashbusted (year to date): -5.4 m

The stash is slowly shrinking so I’m happy. Goodness knows how much I’d added by this point last year so I’m proud to have gotten my buying under control by even this little.

Pattern buying

I was actually been fairly restrained this quarter and only bought:

I’ve already bought a bunch this new quarter (oops) but that’s for the next post.

Sewing related things I’ve liked

I bought a button sewing foot for my machine and I’m in love. Sewing buttons on is one of my most hated tasks. I’ve never been very good at it and I just don’t trust any button I’ve sewn on to stay on.

The foot makes it so easy. You have to drop the feed dogs and make sure you’ve got the stitch settings right – my machine has a button sewing stitch but I think just a zigzag will do the trick – but once you’re set up it’s easy peasy to whizz through.

I’ve since seen an Instagram post saying you can do it without a special foot so if you don’t have a (sewing machine) foot fetish like I do then I’d definitely recommend having a look into that.

There was also a great TV show on the BBC called Back in Time for the Factory where they recreated a clothing factory as it would have been in the 60s, 70s and 80s. A big group of Welsh women then went to work on the production line. It’s about much more than sewing and I did get a bit weepy at some of the parts about going on strike for equal pay. If you didn’t watch it then I’d really recommend watching it on iPlayer if it’s available where you live.

Meet-ups

#walessews meet up at TrixieLixie in Cardiff

I was lucky enough to take part in two sewing meet-ups over the last quarter. In August I met the lovely Ella (aka @sewistella) in Swansea for a mooch around Lee Mills and a coffee. Then at the end of September the fabulous Sara @saraknitsandsews organised a #walessews meet up in Cardiff.

It was brilliant getting to meet so many other sewers. I’m quite shy and a bit awkward when I meet people for the first time but the beauty of meeting other people who sew is that you already have something in common and things to talk about. It was a lovely day and I’m really looking forward to the next time. There’s talk of us having a Frocktails kinda thing.

What’s next?

As always I have far too many plans and far too little time/energy. I really want some autumnal tops but I also need to sew a dress for Halloween out of my Alexander Henry zombie pinups (officially called Beauties and Brains) fabric so it doesn’t sit in my stash for another year. 

I also need to start work on my dress for the Sewcialite Soiree in Bristol next month. I’ve bought a pattern (the Dorothy dress from Sew La Di Da Vintage) and it’s going to feature the shimmery green mesh from stash rainbow photo above.

I’d quite like to sew a coat over the next few months too. I put the Grainline Cascade duffle coat on my Make Nine list but I think I’m going to bump it for something else.

What are your upcoming plans?

Bits and Bobbins: April-June

Hey peeps, I hope you all had a lovely weekend and Monday has been gentle with you. Somehow another three months have whizzed by and it’s time for another quarterly round-up thingy. I’ve spent the whole three months trying to come up with a name for it and had nothing but The Stitch Rep (like sit-rep), which is a bit rubbish. So I put the Manfriend on the case and he just came up with bits and bobbins, which tickled me so I’ve gone with it.

Projects finished

I’ve been a wee bit more productive than last time so I’ve split this part into the months.

April

Just a Tilly and the Buttons Bibi skirt this month.

May

  • Scoop neck ballet tee – this has already become a firm favourite
  • Knit New Look 6217 tee – this was a bit of a wadder. I added a bit of ease as I was cutting it out and it turned out huge. It’s fine for bumming around the house but I’ll never wear it outside.
  • Striped pencil skirt – another new favourite. I think I need to alter the pattern slightly (shortening it between waist and hips) before making more but I’m still really happy with it.
  • Hey June Union St tee – I made a right pig’s ear of the v-neck but I don’t think non-sewers would notice.

June

  • Tilly and the Buttons Joni top – I don’t like this. I have a slight issue with Tilly and the Buttons patterns as I think because their target market is beginners certain things are done in the easiest way, rather than the best way. I don’t like the way the neckline is finished in this pattern and I know if I wear it I’d constantly be adjusting the twist as one side likes to try to turn under and the other side flips out. I’m going to see if my mum wants it as it’s purple, which she loves and her bigger boobs might pull the fabric more taught and stop some of these issues.
  • Sew Over It Eve wrap top(/toile) – This isn’t technically finished yet as I still need to add a waist tie but I’m still counting it. I made it with fabric leftover from this dress and I think it’ll look good with my striped pencil skirt.
  • Sew Over It Eve dress – I made this to wear to a wedding and for #sewtogetherforsummer and I love it.

Projects in waiting

It’s mostly the same ones as last time. These are the ones I hope to sew soon though.

  • Grainline Archer shirt – in progress, just sleeves, side seams, cuffs and buttonholes/buttons to go. So loads. Part of me wants to leave it until the autumn now as it’s flannel so I won’t get to wear it but I also want to check the fit so I can make a chambray version as I think that’ll make a great cover up for cooler summer evenings.
  • Red Ogden cami – I really want to get a wiggle on with this one because I made some fit adjustments and I need to know if they worked before I can make any more Ogdens (and I have a lot of Ogden sized scraps).
  • Named Kielo wrap dress – I’m making it out of this floral viscose jersey and I probably should have made my first one out of something I like less but the fabric I was going to use for a wearable toile turned out to be directional.
  • Chi-town chinos – I cut these out last year and still haven’t gotten round to sewing them yet.
  • Deer and Doe Reglisse dress – This has been in progress since last summer. I messed up the collar and put it on hold until I could face unpicking and redoing it. Then summer disappeared and I haven’t got back round to it yet.

Stashbusting stats

Fabric in (this quarter): 9.1 m
Fabric out (this quarter): 9.2 m
Stashbusted (this quarter): -0.1 m

I just squeaked in under the wire here when I cut my Kielo out on Wednesday. I hoped to get it sewn up as well to wear on Friday but I didn’t get time on Thursday night.

Fabric in (year to date): 20.1 m
Fabric out (year to date): 22.7 m
Stashbusted (year to date): -2.6 m

I may not have gotten rid of a lot of the stash but I’m really pleased with how little fabric I’ve bought so far this year. I’ve been making much more sensible purchases and I haven’t been swept away by pretties I have no immediate need for.

Pattern buying

I fell foul (afoul?) of the sales and bought a load of New Look and McCall’s patterns. The list is in the order I bought them.

Things I’ve liked

I bought some Heat n Bond Soft Stretch fusible hemming tape after seeing people rave about it on Instagram and it really is great for hemming knits.

This blog post isn’t from the last three months but I just rediscovered it in my Feedly saved posts. It’sa great post by Charlie of This blog is not for you about making our hobbies stressful, which is definitely something I cab be guilty of.

I can’t really think of any other sewing related things I’ve liked. Me and my hangover very much enjoyed Set It Up on Netflix this weekend though. I’m not generally much of a romcom gal anymore but I thoroughly enjoyed it – and think I would even if I wasn’t so delicate.

That’s probably enough list bombardment for one evening. I hope to be back with a finished garment post or two soon.

Four year blog anniversary and my sewing story

WordPress told me it was my anniversary a couple of weeks ago but this is the date I published my first post so this is what I’m calling my blog anniversary. Or blogiversary if you prefer.

I started my blog not long after I started sewing so I thought it might be a nice way to celebrate four years of the blog by writing a little post about my sewing story.

Unlike a lot of people in the sewing community I didn’t grow up in a crafty household and I certainly didn’t learn to sew as a child. We were given a sewing machine once but none of us could thread it so I think it got given away. I’ve found out since I started sewing that my granddad sewed and made clothes for my nan and my aunties, which I think is just lovely.

He made those dresses

The women on that side of the family are also excellent knitters. I had some great jumpers that my mum’s Auntie Mabel knitted me and a knitted Worzel Gummidge, complete with a tiny mouse in his hat. Apparently my granddad’s mum also used to knit samples for knitting pattern covers.

But that’s an aside. All that craftiness just seemed to skip my mum. I tried to teach her to knit once and it was one of the most frustrating experiences. If I needed anything hemmed or a button replaced, that was always my dad’s job.

The most sewing I’d done before my 30s was sewing big triangles cut out from a t-shirt into the side seams of a pair of cords to turn them into big ass flares. I did it all by hand with a simple running stitch (I didn’t know there were other stitches) and I am still AMAZED they didn’t fall apart in the washing machine. I also once tacked black circles onto a red top to dress up as a ladybird for a fancy dress night out. Me and my friends did a lot of fancy dress nights out in my 20s so I could bore you with lots more grainy old photos like this but I generally used fabric glue and wonder web for my creations so I didn’t think I could count them. (You can see some on Instagram here)

I then got myself a boyfriend who could sew, which was ever so handy. He repaired things for me and he even made me a bedding set for my birthday. I had a thing for cow print back then and he made it out of cow print satin. I still have it even though it’s for a double bed and I’ve always had a king size so I’ve never actually used it. But still. It was a handmade gift and it would feel wrong to get rid of it even though it feels sort of weird to keep presents from an ex.

It was actually my friend reminding me how gutted I was to not have someone to do my sewing for me when he and I broke up that made me think about writing this post.

After that I thought about learning to sew a lot but I thought I’d be rubbish at it. The only time I’d used a sewing machine was in one technology lesson when I was about 12 and we used an unthreaded machine to punch holes in paper with different shaped lines printed on it. I’m also very faddy and have abandoned many, many hobbies in my time. I was worried that I’d buy a sewing machine for it to just gather dust.

So I just talked about how much I’d like to have a go for ages. Years. I nearly bought a sewing machine so many times. I once pleaded with my mum to buy me one from Lidl and I’d pay her back (I was buying a house and was trying to keep my bank accounts and credit looking good). She wouldn’t. She has seen the fads first hand…

I then stumbled upon sewing blogs. I can’t quite remember how but I think it started with Sarah of A Million dresses. Who is technically a lifestyle blogger but when I found her blog she’d just spent a day learning how to sew a dress. Which made me think dressmaking must be loads easier than I thought if you can learn how in a day. Then through Sarah’s blog I found Roisin aka Dolly Clackett and binge read most of her blog. Falling more and more in love with all of her beautiful dresses. That was exactly the sort of thing I wanted to make.

From there it was a short jump to all the other “famous” sewing blogs, including Tilly and the Buttons. I spent hours reading all of Tilly’s beginner sewing guides and convinced myself I could do it. So in March 2014 I used some of my house deposit savings to buy myself a basic sewing machine. The rest as they say is history.

I made an envelope back cushion cover as my first project, which I still have.

Bonus Poppy

Next came an elasticated waist skirt. I followed one of the may online tutorials and I was so proud of myself when I finished. It has cartoon raccoons on it and I’ve worn it approximately three times. Turns out, I hate elasticated waist skirts. I also still have that somewhere and I’ve thought about trying to refashion it into something I will actually wear.

From there I dived into sewing real patterns. I find the best way to learn how to do something is to have a go at doing it. I learned so much from my first few projects. Mostly that fitting is really hard.

The rest of my sewing journey is here on the blog and I love that I started it so early in my sewing. It means I can see just how much I’ve improved and learned over the years. And just how much my focus has changed. I don’t think at the start I’d even considered making anything other than woven fit and flare dresses. I can’t remember the last one of those I made. They’re just not something that I actually wear.

But anyway, that is how I got started sewing. I hope you haven’t been bored silly by this long, rambling post. Have a great weekend folks. And here’s to the next four years of blogging.

My Favourite PDF only patterns

After writing about the reasons I like PDF sewing patterns last week, Melody asked in the comments what my favourite PDF only patterns are. So I put my thinking cap on, had a look at which of the patterns I’ve enjoyed are PDF only and here we are.

Helen’s Closet Blackwood cardigan

Size range: Bust 31″-48″ Waist 24″-40″ Hip 33″-50″
Price: $14 (USD)
No variations: 2

This is one of my most made patterns to date and I still have lots more planned. It’s one of my favourite patterns ever, let alone just PDF ones. I wear my long grey version all the time as it’s just so versatile. It’s the perfect cardigan pattern for me as I always wear my cardies open.

My versions:

Other people’s versions: Sarah | Laquana | Lara | Meg | Judith (Judith has also done a video sewalong)

Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes

Size range: Waist 24″-38″ Hip 34″-48″
Price: $14 (USD)
No variations: 4 different lengths

Another Helen’s Closet pattern because I’m a fangurrl. I love my Winslow culottes/palazzo pants, they’re just the perfect spring trouser. As I was getting the information for this post I saw that Helen is doing a Winslow hack series and the pattern has 15% off until the end of May with the code “hackwinslow”. So far she’s shared a hack for an elastic waist and I’m looking forward to seeing what else she does. I should probably branch out and sew a shorter version at some point but I love me a maxi.

My versions:

Other people’s versions: Shannon | Gillian | Jasika | Michelle | Abigail

True Bias Southport dress

Size range: Bust 32″-44.4″ Waist 26″-38.5″ Hip 34″-46.5″
Price: $12 (USD)
No variations: 2

I’m surprised that Kelli hasn’t released this one in a paper version yet as it’s a great pattern. But then maybe other people aren’t as obsessed with maxi things as I am. There are always some really nice touches in True Bias patterns and they all seem to be really well drafted. There’s a nice bit of construction on the neckline that gives a really clean finish to the bias binding. I love the shape of the neckline and the amount of blousiness in the bodice. I’ve used the Southport dress as a base for loads of hacks and mash-ups. A Scoutport is next on my list, with a Grainline Scout tee as the top half and my more flared, knee length version of the Southport for the skirt.

My versions:

Other people’s versions: Jenny | Erica | Meg | Sonja | Kirsten

Dixie DIY Ballet dress

Size range: Bust 34″-42″ Waist 24″-33″ Hip 36″-44″
Price: $8 (USD)
No variations: 1

While I’m a big fan of the Ballet dress it’s very similar to the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress, which gets a lot more love in the blog world so you may prefer that as it has more variations and fuller instructions. The Ballet dress fits me really well across the shoulders though so I prefer it to the Lady Skater (I’ve tried both). The Ballet dress also runs quite large – I wear the small and I definitely shouldn’t be the small. So if you’re slim it will swamp you. But then I like negative ease in my knits, not everyone likes things to fit the same.

My versions:

Other people’s versions: Amy | Zoe | Val G | Lisa | Katie

Sew Over It Penny dress

Size range: Bust 33″-45″ Waist 26″-38″ Hip 36″-48″ (though the hip is free and the bodice is oversized – the finished bust measurement of the largest size is 49.5″ – so if you’re a little bit outside the size range you may be okay)
Price: £7.50
No variations: 1

The Penny dress is such a nice dress for when you want to look good but also be comfortable. I wouldn’t recommend it for complete beginners as I don’t think the instructions are the best that Sew Over It have to offer. It’s a great pattern if you have a bit of experience though. And I’ve just seen on Sew Over It’s Instagram account that they’re working on a blog post to help clarify the facing/placket bit of the instructions, which is great news. (Edit: It’s here)

My versions:

Other people’s versions: Carmen | Carmen again | Holli | George | Beck

Sew Over It Alex shirt and shirtdress

Size range: Bust 33″-45″ Waist 26″-38″ Hip 36″-48″ (There is a LOT of ease in this pattern though – 8″ at the bust, 7″ at the waist and 10″ at the hip so if you’re outside the size range you’re probably still okay. I sized down 2 sizes for my version)
Price: This only comes as part of an eBook, which is £20 but you do get 4 other patterns so if you work out an average it’s only £4
No variations: 2 for Alex but 9 in total

This pattern is the main reason I bought the Sew Over It City Break eBook. I love all of the samples, it seems to work in any fabric. I’ve only made myself one version so far but I keep meaning to make another as my first one is so versatile. I made my mum one for Christmas too and I want to get some photos and video of her in it for a sort of “one pattern, two body shapes” post or series. We actually have quite similar body shapes but she has bigger boobs and I have slightly more of a waist so I thought people might find it interesting to hear about how different patterns fit each of us.

My version:

Other people’s versions: Jo | Hayley Jane | Heather | Laura | George

Alina Sewing + Design Co Chi-town chinos

Size range: Waist 24″-36.5″ Hip 34″-46.5″
Price: $15
No variations: 2 – shorts and a skirt – but there are expansion packs available with 2 additional versions

I think this is a great pattern to tackle as your first shorts(/trousers if you use the expansion pack) as the instructions are fantastic and the shorts aren’t supposed to be skin tight so the fitting isn’t as hard as with something like jeans. There are just loads of great features to the pattern and getting both a skirt and shorts is great value for money. I have a pair of the trousers cut out that I’m hoping to get made up soon too.

My version:

Other people’s versions: Heidi (shorts) | Cristy (pants) | Abbey (skirt) | Helen (shorts) | Teri (pants)

Megan Nielsen Veronika skirt

Size range: Waist 34″-42″
Price: Free when you subscribe to her newsletter
No variations: 3

There’s nothing particularly fancy to this one, it’s just a circle skirt pattern but I’ve found it way easier to use than a circle skirt calculator. I used it on my Sewaholic Cambie dress and I used it for a tulle skirt for my work Christmas do last year. It comes with two different waistbands, huge patch pockets and you can use it for knits or wovens. Plus it’s free! So if you’re on the fence about PDF patterns this is a nice one to try. When I relax my fabric buying ban I fancy a scuba version.

My version:

Other people’s versions: Annie | Ruth | Katy | Teresa | Lauren

So there you go, those are my favourite PDF only patterns. There are loads more PDF only patterns I like but these are the ones that I’ve used multiple times and I’m glad I have in my collection. To look at the other side, are there only printed only patterns that you think I should check out?

5 reasons I prefer PDF patterns

It seems like you’re either a lover or hater of PDF sewing patterns. Personally, I’m a big fan and here are some of my reasons why.

1. No tracing

This is the biggy for me because I HATE tracing. I dread it and put it off for ages. I’d far rather sit on the living room floor in front of the telly or listening to the radio and trim and stick a PDF pattern together. These days I use a paper cutter (I have this one) to trim the sheets and Pritt stick (generic glue sticks don’t stick at all in my experience) rather than tape to stick them together. I find using a glue stick much quicker and it gives you a bit of repositioning wiggle room that you don’t have when you’re using tape.

I’ve also seen people cut off more of the edges off than they need to. I only cut the left edge off the top row pieces and then the top and left edges off all the subsequent pieces. Depending on how the pattern has been laid out you sometimes don’t even have to cut that many off.

2. Cost

PDF patterns are usually cheaper, though not always by much. And I’m sure once you add in paper and ink they’re not actually cheaper but I enjoy the feeling of false economy.

3. Storage

If I had all of my patterns as physical patterns I have no idea where I’d put the things. Of course the printed out PDF patterns take up space but as I trace my printed patterns they take up double space. I’ve gone through a few different storage methods with my patterns including plastic document wallets, a filling box thingy and poly pockets in ring binders. My current method is C4 envelopes. At the moment I’ve got them in a paper box but I’m going to get some magazine files when I next go to Ikea and divide them up into garment types.

In terms of digital storage I keep all of my patterns in a folder on my Google Drive called Patterns. Each pattern company then has a folder, where each pattern also gets a folder – even if the pattern is only one file.

4. Errata/updates

This is a great aspect of PDF patterns that I wouldn’t have thought of. If there turns out to have been an error in a pattern you are usually given updated versions for free. It happened with the Megan Nielsen Tania culottes, where I gained an extra version. I also had an updated version of the Ginger jeans when Heather Lou added the pocket stay and made some other changes.

5. Thicker paper

Tissue paper freaks me out. I’m always convinced I’m going to rip it. I prefer the printed patterns that use thicker paper too like Tilly and the Buttons and Deer and Doe. I can see why you wouldn’t if you cut your patterns and like to tissue fit though. Because I cut using a rotary cutter and weights I like that the thicker paper keeps me a harder edge to follow.


Of course I’m not immune to pretty packaging. I love the look of Sew Over It patterns in particular and have a a few of them. The dream would be for pattern companies to offer a bundle. So you could choose to buy the printed one but for a little bit more money have a digital version too. Deer and Doe have been doing a cool thing with the patterns they’ve updated to have a PDF version. You can fill in a form to prove that you bought the printed pattern and they’ll send you a link to buy the PDF for €3.

Another benefit of PDF patterns is that they’re cheaper and less risky for pattern designers than printed patterns. That means we get to enjoy more patterns. Some of my favourite patterns have been PDF only and they would have been a huge risk for the designers to release in paper format so they just wouldn’t exist without PDF patterns being possible.

What about you, are you Team PDF or Team Printed?

Quarterly round-up number 1

Hey there peeps. I hope you’re all having a good week and had a nice long weekend, if you were lucky enough to have one. Mine was quite peaceful and chilled out. I had planned to decorate my sewing room but I didn’t get round to it. Tidying and emptying the damn thing took up most of the weekend! It’s completely empty now and I’ve even pulled the carpet up as I’m thinking about sanding and painting the floorboards. Any tips on painting floorboards or paint recommendations are gratefully received.

In other life type news, my nan is still on the mend and walked with a quad-foot walking stick yesterday, which is really good as she hadn’t been doing much walking. Hopefully she should be able to come out of hospital soon.

Anyway, sewing. I follow a few people who do monthly round-up posts about what they’ve sewn, including Masha from The Itinerant Seamstress who has a section at the end tracking her fabric buying, which I think is a great idea. So I thought I’d copy and do little round-up posts. I’m not productive enough to do them monthly though so I’m going for quarterly.

Projects finished

In January I finished off my Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress (and actually blogged about it!).

In February I had a little flurry of sewing for a holiday to Egypt with my mum to celebrate her 60th birthday. I made a pair of True Bias Lander shorts, a wrap skirt using the skirt part of the Sew Over It Eve dress and a maxi dress by shirring the top of two big rectangles of viscose.

True Bias Lander shorts and Ogden cami, self drafted maxi dress, SOI Eve wrap skirt

I also finished off a knit dress I made last year. There wasn’t actually any sewing involved though, I just chopped a bit off the hem and decided I liked it unhemmed. It’s hack of my beloved Dixie DIY Ballet dress. I’d already made myself a swingy t-shirt from the pattern by tracing around the shoulder and armhole shape and then swinging the side seams out and lengthening into a tee. I made it into a dress pattern by just extending the side seam down.

Dixie DIY ballet swing dress hack

The pattern needs a few tweaks as the sides were a bit too long and it had a bit of a hanky hem shape, which I had to level. I really love this dress though and definitely plan a few more. There’s a lovely autumnal floral jersey in my stash that I’ve earmarked for a longer sleeved version.

I haven’t finished anything in March but I have made most of a Sew Over It Heather dress. I just have the neckband and the hems to go. This project finally kicked me into action to get my overlocker repaired. It had been broken since the beginning of January and because I hate making phone calls so much I kept putting off phoning the sewing machine repair man. But my sewing machine taking SIX MINUTES to sew one (admittedly, long) seam with a stretch stitch was the push I needed.

Projects in waiting

I’ve had a wee cutting spree and I’ve got 4 new projects cut out.

  • A True Bias Ogden cami I’d hoped to finish for my holiday but ran out of time
  • A self-drafted knit pencil skirt
  • A Tilly and the Buttons Bibi pencil skirt
  • A Grainline Archer shirt

Stashbusting stats

Fabric in: 11m
Fabric out: 13.5m

I’ve actually stashbusted! Only 2.5 metres but I’ll take it. I did get it down by 4.75m but then I bought 2 bits of fabric and some ribbing. Ironically it’s all intended to be used to stashbust some of my smaller pieces of stash fabric. I bought some white jersey to use for the body of a raglan t-shirt with the leftovers of the ballet swing dress above as the sleeves. And some lightweight black sweatshirt fabric to be the sleeves and yoke of a jumper with some sloth print sweatshirting I bought a 0.5m remnant of.

Pattern buying

While I’ve been better for not buying fabric willy nilly, patterns are a different story. So I thought it might be nice to track that here too. I’ve bought:

  • Chalk and Notch Fringe dress and top
  • True Bias Lander Pants
  • Helen’s Closet Avery leggings
  • Nina Lee London Kew dress
  • Hey June Handmade Union St Tee
  • Megan Nielsen Flint shorts and pants
  • Sew Over It Ultimate culottes
  • The latest Sew Over It PDF club pattern (as I was writing this, which is what made me add this section)
  • Oh and Tilly and the Buttons’ new book, Stretch, which contains 6 patterns

So that’s quite a lot… I’ll try and curb it a bit over the next few months.

I’m sure I thought of another section to add but it has completely flown out of my mind. If there’s anything else you’d like to see included here then please let me know in the comments. I’ll try and work on a better name for these posts too.