Work in Progress Wednesday 1/23

And sew it begins! My first acutal project of the year was a pair of jeans for myself, but I haven’t got any photos of those to show you yet, so we’ll start the blogging year with something that’s on the cutting table. I really should have made this jacket last year, but things got busy, and there was’t a massive rush anyway. I will be making a 70s jacket for Daughter No 2 in the next week or so. It’s moved to the top of my pile and I have told myself to finish it before I can make anything more for myself. The pattern is Simplicity 5918, dated 1973, which has been in my vintage pattern collection for some time. I’ve always liked this little jacket on this pattern, so when Daughter No 2 said she was keen on a 70’s jacket, this was the first one I thought of.

Simplicity 5918 jacket toile

I toiled the jacket in some old curtain lining without any alterations to see exactly where and what I’d need to do, rather than what I thought I’d have to do. We had a fitting back in October (see how long ago I should have been sewing this?) and made some notes. These are the adjustments that are needed to make this little jacket into what she wants. It’s a lot more loose and boxy in real life!

  • First up, take it in at the side seams and darts, a total of 1cm at the waist on each one. It’s just too loose fitting for her.
  • Second, what’s with the tiny pockets?? They’re going to be made a tad more useful.
  • Third, although a 70s looking collar and rever are relatively cool, they’re just a bit too wide. So the rever and collar are being narrowed. Thankfully that’s just a style line.
  • Fourth, I need a forward shoulder adjustment of around 1-1.5cm.
  • The sleeves are also being lengthened by 5cm. I’m glad the body didn’t need to be lengthened too, it finishes at just the right point.
Alterations on the toile

I’m using a gorgeous chocolate brown needlecord from the stash and a champagne coloured lining, leftover from a previous project. The hope is to get it finished pretty quickly so that she can still have use of it in the cooler weather – especially as it should have been done months ago! I’m not planning to make it too structured, the pattern is for an unlined jacket, so just adding lining will change the way it sits. I’ll try not to over tailor it, just supporting interfacing where it needs it. I am still in two minds about shoulder pads though, they really do make the difference in how a jacket looks. Perhaps I’ll just get small ones – we’ll have to see!!

So – how are your sewing plans? Or is it just way too early into the New Year to ask that question?

Welcome to 2023!

I’m feeling positive! The last three years have been iffy, to be polite, and it’s time things felt a little more normal around here. I haven’t done any New Year’s Resolutions, they never stick, but I have decided to do some things. A while ago I had what I called “My Year of Doing New Things”, and I liked it, so I’ve decided to do it again.

But not just new things – following up on current (old) things too, like keeping this blog up to date. I always struggle with the photo taking part, so will endevour to use my remote on the camera more! This month I’m joining in with the Sew Fancy Pants and Sew Japanese In January challenges. I desperately need new trousers and jeans, so this is the perfect push. I bought a nice pile of fabrics form Croft Mill last year that was supposed to be my autumn/winter wardrobe – I’m still working my way through that!

On the doing things new, I recently joined a friend on a basic book binding workshop, and loved it! I want to take the techniques I learnt and make a series of little books to use to track my allotment planning and planting. I’ve also subscribed to an Instagram account to learn weaving! It’s not willow and large basket weaving, but foraging from your garden and hedgerows and making small things, little grass baskets and bowls, etc. I’m excited to learn all these new things.

I also want to do more with natural plant dyes – I grew a few plants on the allotment last year to use, but didn’t really get stuck in the way I should have. Let’s hope this year will be better! I hope to see you around, I always find reading details about people’s sewing easier on a blog than on an Insagram post – and you get bigger photos!!

Here’s to a successful 2023 sewing (and other craft) year!

It’s the 90s again!

Waistcoats. All the rage in the 90s and now back again, the perfect example of circular fashion. I made two for Daughter no1 back in the summer to wear as tops, and have now made another two for Daughter no 2 to wear over shirts – as a “proper” waistcoat. This is pattern I used for myself “back in the day”, making the waistcoat and trousers. Luckily I never cut off all the un-needed sizes, so everything was there. The pattern is a long out of print Burda 2889. I love the shape of this waistcoat, especially the cut of the armholes.

I started with a toile in the size 10. Thankfully there were no adjustments to be made, we were both happy with the fit and the length was just fine too. I had thought I might need to lengthen it, but not this time! The fabrics chosen were from the stash, leftover from my Assembly Line V-Neck dress and the Sienna Maker Jacket. Linings also came form the stash, and were also leftovers.

The finer, rusty coloured wool waistcoat has a front and back neck facing, as well as armhole facings, which is not the way the waistcoat is drafted. I didn’t have enouth wool to cut four fronts, two of which would be the facings. I like how it’s turned out, the finish is really good and at least the lighter coloured satin lining doesn’t poke out! I kept the faux pockets on this one and found suitable buttons in the stash, again.

The black windowpane wool is much thicker than the other, I used it to make a coat. So this time there are no facings and no faux pockets, it would just add far too much bulk. I was worried cutting this one, there was only a small amount of fabric left and I really wasn’t sure whether I could pattern match properly, but I was lucky and it all only just worked out! There is now so little of this fabric left that it really is scrap and I can happily use it to fill another Closet Core pouf or maybe a draught excluder!

I posted the waistcoats and got promises that photos would be taken soon this time. I had to wait a little while, but the promised photos have arrived and so you get to see them. Daughter No 2 is very happy with her waistcoats and they fit into her 90s feeling wardrobe really well!

I’m still waiting for photos of a pair of Lander Pants also made for Daughter No2, and a pair of wool trousers made for Daughter No1. I also still need to get cracking with the 70 jacket that I toiled at the beginning of November. December is going to be a busy sewing month! I thought I might make some Christmas presents too, if there’s time. Is anyone else making gifts for Christmas?

A Quick Sew

This is one of those, “Quick, sew!” projects! A friend of mine let me know this week that she’s heading to South Africa at the beginning of September, and would be able to take something non-bulky/lightweight over for me. I immediately thought of the fabric I’ve been hoarding for making tops for my mum. She has a favourite pattern that we’ve been using for years now and thankfully it really is quick! If you want to know which one I’ve used, it’s Burda 134, March 2004.

Burda 134, March 2004 in cotton from Rosenberg & Sons
Lawn from Rosenberg & Sons

The pattern in the magazine is from one of their designer collaborations, and if I remember correctly, was all in white with a skirt. The top had bias strips of fabric stitched diagonally across the front. That wasn’t going to be staying for a practical top for Mum! It also had no hems or neckline treatment, which I have definitely changed! The hems are 1.5cm and I added an allowance in order to have a bias trimmed neckline.

Cotton fabric given to me by a friend

Slightly thicker cotton, great for cooler weather

I pulled four pieces of cotton of different weights from the stash, one being a piece of Liberty lawn. The two lightweight fabrics were bought from M Rosenberg & Son (Stitch Fabrics), the purple and teal fabric was given to me by a friend, and the pale blue and grey thicker cotton was bought a long time ago from one of my trips to Sewing For Pleasure. The two thicker fabrics will be worn in cooler weather. The climate where my mum lives is hot and humid in the summer. The top is a loose fit, bias cut, short sleeve with a simple bias strip neckline treatment, which works brilliantly for her. I have honestly lost track of how many of these tops I’ve made since 2004! They’re completely different in all the different fabrics and colours I’ve used. I’ll be making more of these again next summer, I’m sure!

Doctor’s Orders

Back in the day when the doctors wrote their prescriptions, I can’t believe the pharmacists actually knew what was written!  The squiggles on the fabric remind me very much of those scribbled prescriptions.  😀  I give you my latest Olya Shirt, pattern from Paper Theory.  The fabric is a piece of cotton voile from Croft Mill fabrics, as mentioned in my last post.  It’s a very good price, and the fabric is the softest, drapiest ever!  It’s going to be lovely to wear in the summer….  But I will wear it now, just with a cami underneath and a jumper over the top – especially as I’m determined not to have the heating on unless I’m a shivering wreck!

olya 1
Paper Theory Olya shirt

olya 4

Most of the modifications were mentioned in the Work in Progress post, so this post covers the last minute changes in design direction, and of course, it’s for showing it off, all nice and finished!

collage olya squiggle 3
All the details

The selvedge has a lovely coloured edge, and I wanted to incorporate it into the top in some way.  I used the strips down the edges of the fabric already cut and added them to the collar stand to start, I thought it looked quite nice, giving myself the green light to do more.  So I cut a shorter piece and sewed it into inside seam of the buttonstand on the button side, just from the collar to the yoke joining seam.  I really like the way it looks!  It might be a monochromatic print, but there’s colour in there too!  I like this little bit of fluff, it makes my shirt even more personalised, and that’s what sewing is all about, right?

olya 2

Buttons are all from the stash, reused from one of hubby’s shirts that fell apart.  I had toyed with adding more of the selvedge to the cuffs.  For now they’re plain, but I might add a bit later as there’s plenty left!  I have about half a metre of the fabric leftover, I hope I can use it productively in another project, it would be a same to waste it.

olya 6
I love the pop of colour!

Next on the cutting table are two vintage projects for the girls.  One is a 70s jacket in chocolate brown fine whale corduroy, and another a pair of 80s pleated trousers in grey wool flannel.  I’ll let you guess which project is for which daughter!

Work in Progress Wednesday 2/2022

Well, what do you know!  A progress report on a Wednesday – and only the second of the year…  Oh dear!  Nevermind, progress is progress.  Today’s project is one that I cut out about a month ago, thinking that at least with it already cut, I might get on with it quickly….  Yeah.  It’s another Olya Shirt from Paper Theory, this time in black and white squiggle print cotton voile bought from Croft Mill in August.

Continuous bias strip for the sleeve placket

I’ve cut the 14 again, like I did for the first three.  I went down a size for the linen version but I actually prefer the bigger one, it feels better in the length especially in the arms.  The fabric is just lovely, so soft and light!  It was possibly something I should have got on with in August, it’s more of a summer weight than an Autumn/Winter weight!!

Back pleat

I’m changing the sleeve placket detail, just keeping it simple this time with a basic bias strip instead of a tower placket.  I’ve added some reinforcing stitching the the back pleat, something different.  Today I’ve got the majority of the work done, it look like a shirt!  Tomorrow is buttonstand, collar and cuffs, the hem, and buttonholes and buttons.  I hope I have suitable buttons in the stash.

It looks like a shirt!

I do love this pattern, and I have another black and white cotton print waiting to be made into another Olya!I don’t think you have have too many black and white shirts, can you?  Just like classic plain white ones, they’re always useful!

Work in Progress on a Thursday

Hello to anyone who might be lurking around, waiting for a blog post from me. It’s been ages…  I had two in the pipeline over the summer but didn’t have photos, so they’re still in my drafts!  This post should have gone up yesterday and been a Work in Progress Wednesday post but, as I’ve become less used to blogging and what needs to be done, I forgot to take adequate photos of the process….  Anyhow, I have something, which is always better than nothing!!

Waistcoat patterns

The waistcoat I’m making is a Burda pattern from the 90s, one I made for myself when I was in my 20s – Burda 2889 for those who might be interested in tracking it down.  Over the summer, daughter no 1 requested a waistcoat to wear as a top, rather than over a tee or shirt.  I made her a black cotton twill version and an off white one in linen.  I don’t have photos of them on her, but have been assured that they fit fine and have been worn.

Roll on to Autumn and daughter no 2 would like waistcoats to wear over shirts – preferably  shirts with some sort of interesting (big) sleeve.  And yes, I’ll be making those too…  So I toiled the size 10 in the same pattern and she likes it.  I like it because I didn’t need to make any adjustments!  I had some leftover pieces of wool in the stash from other projects, so we decided to use these instead of buying more fabric.  Thankfully the linings have also come from the stash, so that’s made these waistcoats very economical!

collage waistcoat lining
Facings and linings, front (left) and back (right.

Version one is using a windowpane wool I used for my Assembly Line V-Neck Dress.  The left over pieces were akward shapes and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to patternmatch anywhere, which almost prompted me to cut some panels on the bias, just to be obviously different!  But there wasn’t space for that either.  In the end, the front and back pieces match, but I couldn’t get the side seams on the right lines.  It’s disappointing, but I hope it won’t be too obvious.

collage waistcoat sewing
All sewn together, seam allowances layered and clipped, ready for turning.

The pattern as it comes doesn’t have facings and seperate linng pieces, you cut double fronts and the rest all in lining, but the lining is a very different shade and I didn’t want any of that to roll out and stick up over the edges.  So I traced the pieces and made facings and linings, only just having enough of the wool to cut them all out. It sewed up well and I’m pleased with it, even the faux welt pockets.  I’ll be leaving these off the next version because the wool I’ll be using is thicker and it’ll just be bulky.

Faux welt pockets, cut on the bias

Little brown buttons with a fleck of white from the stash will do nicely.

I’ve hand sewn the remaining lining side seam and actually managed to find buttons in the stash (that’s a miracle in itself!).  I had hoped to use some bronze or brass metal buttons but, as luck would have it, I didn’t have any of a suitable size and number.  I found something in the brown buttons section in the stash that will do the job just fine.  I want to get it all done today so I can start on the next one, and then a pair of Lander Pants for the same daughter is on the list.  I also have a Paper Theory Olya shirt for myself cut and ready to go – but first, waistcoats and Landers!  And I will nag and nag and nag for photos on a person so I can show you want the waistcoats look like on a human!

My new sewing room helper. The great distraction in my life since the beginning of September!

In the mean time, I have to keep my sewing stuff under supervision these days, since we acquired a British Shorthair kitten at the beginning of Septermber.  She is at once cute, cuddly and a little terrorist!

Sunflower Terra Pants

I’ve had this post in drafts since the end of April, not quite sure of whether or not to post it.  I’m not raving about this pattern – but I think it’s just because it doesn’t suit me the way I was wanting it to.  It’s a case of great pattern – but on someone else!  Anyway, here it is, with all my doubts.

My first foray into using Pattern Fantastique patterns – I’ve liked the asthetic of this company for a while, but only bought some patterns this year!  I jumped for the Terra Pants and Phen Shirt just after the Phen was released – I love how they look together!  When I was finally inspired to make something for me again, I thought I’d start with the pants.  I also thought these would be a good idea for Daughter No2, I’m sure she could carry these off with ease!  She’s already given the nod to the shirt.

First attempt at photos, back in March

Going by the measurement chart, I traced the 12 and 14, and toiled the 14 with no adjustments.  I used some cream curtain lining, thinking the pattern needed a fabric with body to hold the shape and the pleat.  I’m not sure whether it was the colour or the body of the lining, but I suddenly wasn’t quite so sure I liked the pants when I was finished with the toile!  Feeling a little blah, I put them in the naughty corner and faffed around with other things.

Terra Pants from Pattern Fantastique

But I couldn’t get them out of my head – there must be a way to make them work – I still really liked how they looked on other people.  Putting them on again, I thought that perhaps I could go down a size on the legs, that would narrow them on each side seam by about a centimetre.  I also made an adjustment to the centre back seam which improved the fit across the bum.  But still not 100% certain.  I really didn’t want to waste fabric on something I might not like afterwards.

Sunflowers on the pocket, a reminder that when I made these, Europe had just gone nuts.

Eventually, it was at a sewing session with a couple of friends that it all came together.  I was faffing with the pattern, reducing the side seams down to the 12, when I thought I’d pu the toile on again and ask their opinions.  To my complete surprise, they all liked the pants!  The colour needed to be looked past, but they all assured me they looked good and just go ahead!  So I took a deep breath and went for it!  My fabric is a very dark lightweight stretch denim that I bought from Truro Fabrics many years ago.


The pattern is easy to follow and the instructions clear.  The fly zip is inserted in a manner I’ve never used before, but it’s not confusing (just read the instructions carefully!) and results in a good finish.  I just need to reverse the instructions so that the opening is on the other side.  I cannot get used to the zip and button being on the “wrong” side.  Aside from the adjustment in the centre back seam, I made no other changes.  This version has the patch pockets on the back and the turn-ups.

I made them to sit on the waist, but apparently if you size up, you can make them to sit lower on the hip.  That might be an idea for next time, I find they’re a little on the snug side!  Which contrasts massively with the fullness in the leg – which is something I just can’t get over.  They just don’t look right on me.  I think it’s the combination of the balloon legs and the cropped length, round pants…  Possibly in a fabric with even less body, and maybe if I size down in the legs and up in the waist I’d get something I prefer, but I’m not sure I’m willing to waste fabric to find out.  I know the girls would look brilliant in these – but is that just because they’re slim?

I’m keen to hear from someone else who’d make the 12/14/16 size and who is around 1.6m tall – have you made them?  Do you like them on you?  I’m honestly thinking of unpicking these and making something else from the fabric, saving and reusing the pockets – of course!


I fancied this pattern when I saw it in the Burda magazine, August 2021.  It’s pretty straightforward except for the neckline.  And was what I liked – and was wary of at the same time!  I had a feeling that this would be one of those patterns that made a cool looking garment, until the first time it was washed.  Then it would be a royal pain in the butt to iron and get to sit properly again.  I figured fabric choice was going to be key here.

orange 5

So I left it for a while until I found some organic cotton jersey at Croft Mill which was nice and sturdy when it came, has stretch but not masses of drape, had body but wasn’t thick.  I thought this is it, I’ll make that top with this stuff.  I thought about doing a FBA for about 5 minutes after tracing the 44, looked at  all the odd shaped pieces and then decided not to bother…  Lazy.  So there are no alterations on this.

orange 4

orange 2

It wasn’t overly complicated to put together, but the fabric wanted to roll to the right side all the time, which was annoying, and irritating when I needed it to sit still and stay put!  The instructions have you insert the sleeve after the s ides are sewn up, but with jersey tops you usually put the sleeve in on the flat.  The head on this pattern is very high which has lead to some makers getting a nasty poof s tthe top.  I took one look at it and lowered the head height a bit – completely by eye.  It’s better than some look, but really – it’s unneccessary to have a sleeve head like that on a jersey top!

orange 3

The asymmetry of the neckline is cool, worked ok when flat.  But my prediction was right – it is a pain in the butt to iron after washing!!  But I love it so much that as soon as it’s back in the wardrobe, it’s out again.  I’ve worn this top so many times since making it back in December!!  I hadn’t realised it was that long ago – apologies for the extremely late blog post!  I will make this again, and in this sort of weight fabric.  A jersey with more drape than this would go straight into the bit at the first attempt at ironing the neckline and a stiffer jersey would be too thick.  Perhaps a thin viscose ponte would be nice.

orange 1

Summertime Sewing

Still with me after that break?  Sewing has been a little on the slow side, and most of it has been for the girls, which means that photos are few and far between!  I haven’t anything earth shattering to show you, and still haven’t sorted that post for the Terra Pants.  Why?  Well – I’m not convinced that they were right for me.  Looking back at the photos and knowing how I feel when wearing them, the shape just isn’t me.  So instead I thought I’d play things safe, and reverted to a favourite pattern of mine, the Teddy Designer Pants from Style Arc.

teddy 1

This is version number 6!  I had a length of viscose linen in the stash that I’d bought from Rainbow Fabrics Kilburn last summer, is was a beigey-ivory colour that I knew wasn’t going to stay that way!  It was instantly dyed Pewter Grey, but then found itself back in the stash.  I had bought another piece of the viscose linen in rust and made a Zadie Jumpsuit with it, only to discover that it was too heavy and had too much drape to be a jumpsuit.  That garment is still waiting for me to take the top of and turn the whole thing into something more suitable.  So I was concerned that the fabric was too drapey and needed to be sure I’d got the right pattern next time.

teddy 2

In the end I decided on the Teddy Pants because the drape would be fine and I could interface the waistband sufficiently to control any movement there.  It was a good choice!  I made the 12 with only a leg length adjustment that I’d made way back when I made the first pair.  I have also already adjusted the inseam pockets to be caught into the waistband – otherwise they flap around and drive me nuts.  I have fancy pockets in these, using up scraps of Liberty to reduce bulk and make it easier to iron!

teddy 3

There isn’t much to say about these, they’re so comfy to wear and I love the relaxed fit and big pleat.  They will not be my last pair.  Not something I can say about those poor Terra Pants…

teddy 4

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