Three Points

This is a project I’ve been quite keep to make since spotting the pattern in the magazine.  I liked the section seams of the sweatshirt (111 from February 2017), the opportunities for colour blocking and, most importantly of all, the chance to use it to use up some of the left over bits of ponte, quilted jersey and fleece fabric taking up a fair bit of room in my jersey fabrics box.  I really do need the space for full lengths of useable fabrics!

I decided to trace the smallest size, the 36.  The pieces are massive!  On the sheet the front and back main pieces are just half, so I flipped the paper over and made them whole.  This means that if I’m using leftovers, I know immediately how much space I need!  There are enough of a couple of fabrics for this pattern to work, but I couldn’t make up my mind where to start.  So I drew out a couple of tops and coloured them with the colours of fabric I have to try to get somewhere.

Then I asked Daughter No2 which she prefered.  Typically she couldn’t decide either and said she needed to see the fabrics first – in person!  But I really wanted to make the sweatshirt.  So I laid the pieces out on some of the left over black and white ponte that I’d made my last Uvita Top in, and placed the sleeves and triangular side panels on left overs of plain black ponte from Daughter No2’s long cardigan.  I liked the idea of the sides being solid in colour.  I figured that if she didn’t like it, I’d offer it to Daughter No1.  Once I started actually sewing, I figured I could always keep it for myself – it was that wide!

The sweatshirt, with all its width!

contrast sweatshirt 6

The essentials of the top are simple enough, especially if you’re not making the version with pockets.  But the pocket instructions got me all befuddled.  I obviously wasn’t having a brain fully engaged day, because I made a fluff and had to make do in the end.  And in the end I realised what I should have done!  So here’s a tip, if you’re planning on making this top.  The pockets are KANGAROO pockets!  If I’d realised that in the beginning I’d have understood the instructions immediately and done them correctly!

contrast sweatshirt 5


contrast sweatshirt 4

Anyhow, I am now pre-warned for the next time!!  But will there be a next time?  Maybe.  It’s definitely going to be fabric dependent.  Daughter No 2 was home on Friday for a quick visit to collect her winter coats and take them back to Birmingham.  She was initially unsure of the top when she saw it, but decided she rather liked it once it was on!  The verdict was positive, but only in a fabric that is fairly soft and has drape.  She wouldn’t want it if the fabric had too much body (it would be very boxy) and with that width it’s not what she’d wear.  But this one she likes!

contrast sweatshirt 2


contrast sweatshirt 1
Sweatshirt 111 February 2017



The Burda Challenge 2018

Seven January issues, care to guess how many I’ve actually made something from?

A great little idea from Hila of Saturday Night Stitch and a bandwagon I’m only too happy to jump on.  I’ve been buying Burda magazines since March 1994 – and I can guarantee you that I have only made patterns from a tiny proportion of them.  I always intend to make stuff from each magazine.  When they arrive I sit down with a large cuppa and go through all the photos, then through the line drawings and I fold down the corners of the pages with items I think I like, either for me or the girls.  Sometimes I make them up, but more than often this stage is where the project stops.

This January there are a miriad of patterns I like, my favourite by far is the blouse 116.  I fell for the sleeve straight away!  Chris made a fabulous version, sealing my fate.  But alas, for me it was not to be.  The pattern needed to be graded up a size (only goes to 42) and a FBA added.  But when I’d finished the toile and put it on it was horrid.  The neckline is way to high (strangled look not good) fit across the upper chest too tight and the volume of the sleeve with that armhole just too much.

On a slim person, or even someone who’s not, but has “normal” bust size, this blouse would probably look just fine.  But on me – just no.  So disappointing!!!  But, not to worry, there are other patterns in this month to make, yes?  Yes.  But I lack suitable fabric for them…  I’m not buying fabric this month, so what I make has to come from a now seriously depleted stash.

This prompted me to dig out the January Burda issues from the boxes I can easily get my hands on, 2017 to 2010.  And I have a few options.

Blouse 114 from 2016

This from 2016 caught my eye originally and is one of those with a folded page – why didn’t I trace and make at the time?  It’s got an interesting sleeve, is nice and drapey and would do will in either of my viscose fabrics from the stash.   loove the pants too, but have already learned that peated pants do not suit people with a tummy.  Flat fronts only!

Top 108 from 2014

Not the top of my list, but one that had caught my eye.  It looks quick to make, but a bit of a fabric hog, and I’m wary of all that fabric in the top and sleeve with my shape…  So maybe not.

Top 119 from 2015

Again, quick and simple in shape, just those pesky sequins to deal with!  I might have some special fabric suitable for this, that isn’t sequined.  But it’s a bit plain looking without a fabulous fabric!

Top 119 from 2017

I actually really like this top from 2017, I don’t have silk jersey but some navy viscose jersey should do the job just fine!  I wonder if anyone else has made it with the matching “modesty bustier”?

Top 121 and pants 122 from 2012

Simple enough trousers to make, the top has seaming details that I found interesting enough to actually trace the pattern, but that’s where I stopped.  I really don’t like wasting fabric, so I guess I thought this might not work.  I really should have attempted a self-draft, but hey-ho.  Now time is against me and I might as well toile this and see where it leads!  I wouldn’t use anything with body, I think this shape only works on me with a soft, fluid fabric, so viscose it is!

Top 129 from 2011

Another I liked straight away, but got no further than bending the corner of the page.  I think it wants fabric with more body that my viscose jersey though, so that means shopping…  Oh dear.

Wrap top 116 from 2012

This is daughter No2’s contribution, she loves the wrap top and I have a feeling I might have something suitable in the stash.

So, in between the coughing and the sneezing, I’ll try to narrow down my options and make progress with this.  So here’s my sign-up to the Burda Challenge 2018:

I will make a pattern from a Burda magazine each month, even if I have to go back to 2010 to find something that ticks all the right boxes!  I will use this opportunity to revisit those older magazines and maybe make something I’d marked before but not got round to making up, and will stick to the right months as the year progresses.

Wish me luck! 🙂


You just can’t keep a good pattern down.  I’ve long been a fan of wide legged trousers, swooshy ones with good sized pockets.  For years, my go-to for that particular style has been style 116 from the March 2004 issue of Burda magazine.  I have made so many versions of that pattern I couldn’t even begin to count them.  But I think I have a new favourite…

collage navy
Burda trousers 102 and 103 from May 2017

The stealer of the show is style number 102 & 3 from the May 2017 issue.  I made two cropped (102) versions in linen in the summer and wore them constantly.  I’d barely ironed them before they were back on sometimes ironing them in order to wear them that day!  They are so comfy to wear, the pockets the perfect depth, and I love the back pocket too, that’s where my phone tends to live.

I was digging around in the stash for something or other in November and came across a left over piece of pinstripe wool.  I’d originally bought 3m from Rosenberg & Son – probably around 10 years ago (!) and made a pair of trousers for a friend.  The bit left over would have made a perfectly decent pair of trousers for one of my girls, but somehow they weren’t accepting it.  After coming across it again, a possibility arose.  I figured it would be perfect made as a pair of cropped wide legged trousers for the winter!  There wasn’t enough to cut every piece, the waistband facings and the inner pocket bags were cut from the remains of the shell print cotton lawn from Mum’s top.

navy 7
Cropped pinstripe wool trousers

I love these trousers!  And again, just like their linen cousins, I’m finding I reach for them as soon as they’re back in the cupboard.  The wool is soft and not at all itchy – I didn’t line this pair.  I shove them in the washing machine on a woolens cycle with some Ecover delicates liquid and they are none the worse for it.  In fact, all my wool trousers get washed in the machine, I save dry-cleaning for coats.

navy 5

Then I had a little splash of fabric buying from Fabworks and got my hands on 2m of their Classic Grey Italian Flannel, amongst other things.  This wool is perfection, soft, flowy and the perfect colour!

navy 9
Trousers 103 05/2017 in grey wool flannel

I thought I’d make the full length trouser (103) in this fabric.  I hadn’t shortened the cropped versions for my stunted leg length, but had to do so for the full length trousers!  6cm disappeared from the hem.  I used a piece of black satin lining for the inner pocket bag to reduce bulk.  The two metres was enough fabric, with an annoying little bit left over that I have no idea what to do with. My boxes are starting to fill up with these little pieces.  As I’d lost 6cm from the length of this pair, I thought I might adjust the pattern properly so that the cropped pair would be more proportioned.  I had wondered about this in the linen trousers I made in the summer, but left it at the time.

navy 11

A week later I found another left over piece of wool!  This navy worsted suiting had been given to me after the rest of it had been used for a 3-piece man’s suit.  It was an odd bit, but would have made something for the girls I expect.  But what it did make was another pair of cropped trousers!  I lined this pair as the wool was rather thin.  I’d got 3m of grey lining with my 3m of charcoal coating free from Fabworks in their birthday sale, so decided to use some of that.  In the end, all I needed to buy was an invisible zip!  I love free clothes!

navy 3.jpeg

The lining pieces were laid on the wool and overlocked together and treated as one piece, except for the panel sewn on the bottom.  There the lining hangs seperately from the wool.  Because they are lined, and the fabric behaves differently to the flannel and pinstripe, this pair are a little more fitted at the waist/hip.  Which I rather like.  As this pair was made after I’d shortened the pattern by 6cm they are shorter than the pinstripe version.  I’m not sure which is length is better!  I think I might prefer the original length, especially when worn with my fabby new suede boots!

navy 8

I had been looking for a “perfect” pair of Chelsea boots for the winter, but these are so much better!  I think it’s safe to say I have found a new favourite trouser pattern, and I’ll be making more!  It runs up really quickly, you can easily make a pair in a day (which I did because I wanted to wear them the next day to Sunday Sewing Group!).


navy 12

Now what I really need are some new tops!!  Chris has made a fabulous version of the dramatic sleeve blouse from January 2018, and I’ve been drooling all over her pics!  I have a plain navy viscose in the stash that would look fabulous, or even a navy with white feather print….  It will have to be a January project though, given that there’s only one day left of 2017!

A Hot Weather Dress

My sewing machine has been working overtime during the last week and a bit, quickly trying to make the last few things for Daughter No 1.  The departure for her planned travel to Asia, Australia & America has finally come.  Amongst the things I made for her (which I will cover in another post) was this dress.  She wanted something that would just hang, not cling, and be cool to wear in the tropical humidity of Thailand, something suitable for cocktails on the beach in Fiji & totally wearable when exploring Rodeo Drive.  It needed to have fullness, but not be a tent.  She didn’t want extra fullness in the front, hanging from the bust.  She drew me a sketch of what she had in mind, then left me to it.

A sketch of the dress Daughter No1 wanted for her travels

I started with her close fitting bodice block, drawing a one piece dress block and then converting it to the lingerie block.  This involves reducing ease and doubling the size of the bust dart.  For the dress pattern the bust dart was moved to the underarm position.  I added a section to the side, from the waist to make the fullness.  The double darts in front and back were eliminated, but the back dart was effectively transferred into the centre back, making the back shaped and fitted.  I also needed a swayback adjustment of about 2cm.  I intended to use an invisible zip in the centre back, French seams throughout and self bias for the top edges and straps.

Collage Handkerchief Dress Toile
The toile in cotton. The swayback adjustment hadn’t been done.

The toile revealed that I needed a swayback adjustment, and that I needed to alter the fit of the top.  Daughter No1 wanted it a little looser.   I was concerned about the hang of the handkerchief section, but hoped that in the silk that we’d chosen that it would look a lot better.

Collage handerchief dress
Dress in progress, silk definitely drapes better than cotton! And the swayback adjustment worked a treat.

The silk was given to me by a friend, it’s got the most beautiful sheen and drape, but for me, it was just a little too bold.  However, Daughter No1 loved it!  The bands are a red and white hatched pattern, while the blue is actually purple and black.  I only had two metres and it was pretty narrow but we had just enough to squeeze the dress out.  I was worried that there wouldn’t be enough for the bias strips.  Thankfully that wasn’t the case in the end, I didn’t really need that much bias.  But please remind me that working with narrow bias in silk really isn’t easy, and tries the patience of anyone, especially when you’re up against the clock.

Collage zip
Putting an invisible zip into a french seam, reinforcing the area with fine interfacing.

I made the pattern on Saturday night, toiled it midday Sunday, made the adjustments and got cracking immediately.  It had to be finished by 11am on Monday morning!!  Needless to say I was still handstitching bias at 11am so we left a little late for the airport, but all was good, she loved the dress and stuffed it into the rucksack straight away!  I am hoping to see photos of it in far of exotic places on Instagram soon!  Here it is on Betty, my vintage mannequin.








I love the drape at the sides, and the slight drop of the handkerchief hem.  I really do hope it sees lots of wear in the next 6 months!

The Queue Jumper

Feelin' all cosy over here!
Feelin’ all cosy over here!

Remember my nice neat piles, sorted with sketches and patterns and all in some sort of order?  Well, I kinda messed that order up a wee bit!  I was all on track with another three Burda patterns traced out and ready to make using the three knit fabrics I bought from Fabricland in Reading at the end of August.  This grey, slightly sparkly knit with toweling type loops was destined for a very different pattern.

The usuper!  Pullover 109 from Burda 10/2015
The usuper! Pullover 109 from Burda 10/2015

But then I clapped eyes on this… Pullover 109 is available from the German Burda website as a download here.  I got the October Burda in the post, from Germany.  They sent it because they used one of my photographs in their “Reader’s Makes” section (why don’t we have on of them in the English version??).  I got to this picture & decided pretty much immediately that it was going to have to be on the top of my list, even if it meant stealing a fabric away from another pattern!  Originally I thought of using a different knit, but thought it was probably too soft (turns out I was right, even this one just makes it, a chunkier knit would give a result more like the one in the magazine).

DSC00197-1It consists of a high funnel neck with side zip on the left, not that you need it to get in or out of the pullover, it’s there for different ways to wear the top.  The front and back are cut off the grain, the back on the bias, and have shaped hems.  I kept the pointed hem in the back but made the front straight – I didn’t need it any shorter, showing off my tummy!  I made the 44 straight, no fiddling.  There is enough ease to wear over tee shirts comfortably, so perfect for layering.

Do the zip up and snuggle in!
Do the zip up and snuggle in!

I used the overlocker on this make, except for sewing in the invisible zip.  The major sewing took about 1.5 hours, then all I needed to do was handstitch the hems and the inside of the funnel neck to the zip tape.  I left it to the morning for fresh eyes!  I don’t think there’s much I would change about this pattern.  Perhaps if I lengthened it at the waist a bit I could reinstate the angled front hem.  It does look good on the original pattern.

The lightweight knit drapes quite nicely
The lightweight knit drapes quite nicely. 

With the zip almost completely open, the “collar” folds over.  Loads of room for showing off a pretty scarf!

That's all folks!  I'm off to make more knits!
That’s all folks! I’m off to make more knits!

So it’s back to the sewing table, to make something that’s actually on the list! 🙂  I hope all your Autumn/Spring sewing plans are progressing well!!

Pattern Cutting Workshop

Do you struggle with off-the-peg skirts?  Does sewing your own skirts from commercial patterns leave you un-impressed by the fit and style?  Then this is the workshop for you!  I am pleased to announce a skirt pattern making workshop running over three evenings in Stratford on Avon in November.

Equipment for pattern cutting
Equipment for pattern cutting

On the first evening you will learn how to take your own measurements accurately and to draft a skirt block for yourself using those measurements.  You will then toile the basic pattern and make any fitting adjustments necessary, transferring these to your block pattern.

Tailored Skirt Block
Tailored Skirt Block

Between that and the next evening you will collect images of skirts that inspire you and possibly make sketches of the details you’d like on a skirt for yourself.  On the second evening you will learn how to adjust the basic skirt block to make different styles using 1/4 scale patterns.

Tailored Skirt Toile
Tailored Skirt Toile

On the last evening you will toile your chosen skirt design and make any fitting or style adjustments necessary.  You will learn how to write an order of work, to calculate fabric requirements and we will discuss suitable fabrics.  You will leave with a pattern for a skirt of your own design and the instructions to make it up in the fashion fabric of your choice, not to mention your basic skirt block and inspiration developed from your collected images & practice adjusted patterns.

Fashion cut - Toile
Fashion cut – Toile

The equipment you will use in the workshop will be provided, as will suitable paper and sewing machines.  You will need to bring your own stationery and sewing kit as well as fabric for making the toiles.  The class size is limited to three and will take place in the Malt House in Alveston, just outside Stratford on Avon on 3 consecutive Wednesday evenings, the 5th, 12th & 18th November from 6pm-9pm.  There is parking available outside the hall.

Cost for the three evenings is £100 per person, with unlimited tea & coffee included.

If you are interested in this workshop, please contact me via email:  handmade-1 at live dot co dot uk

vintage pattern goodies for sale

A fabulous opportunity to get your hands on some fabulous vintage patterns!

Vintage Belle

I have a confession.  I have more vintage patterns than I can currently store safely and properly!  I snapped up a large, and I mean LARGE box of vintage patterns from the fourties to the nineties a couple of weeks ago and have been slowly sifting though them all, trying to decide which are definitely to keep and which I can bear to part with.  This has been a hard job!  They are all gorgeous and special in their own way, but there is really a limit to what I can keep right now and how many coat patterns of a similar style do I realistically need to keep??

So, with that thought firmly in mind, I have identified 35 patterns, so far, that I can sell.  Here are 8.  They are in my Etsy shop with full details and costs.  If you’d prefer not to buy via Etsy, let…

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2013 in review

I love it when these reports come out, they’re so interesting! 🙂  Thank you to my top commentors, Pendle Stitches, Calico Stretch, Tia Dia, The Material Lady & Sew Busy Lizzy!  Happy New Year to you all, see you on the other side!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Looking back on 2013

top 5

There’s nothing like waiting until the almost last minute before starting something!  That’s pretty much what I tried this month, and it backfired on me!  So it’s safe to say that I in no way got that gorgeous jacket make for Daughter No2, in fact, I haven’t even started the pattern.  But I will!!  I love the lines on it & I think it will look great – when I finally get it started…

I has a lot of grand plans for this year & managed to actually stick with some of them!  I do have one awful fail though.  Even with the added incentive (threat??) of being in THE JAR, I have not made a shirt for my poor husband.  I have drafted a pattern & even toiled it – but with putting our house on the market this year & the general clean-up & hiding of “stuff” that ensued, I lost the toile.  Then I got distracted – again!  So this is one job I still face & I really must try to get a man’s shirt done in 2014.  Just one will do the trick!

So how did I do then? Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow has this great round-up of yearly projects that pretty much all the sewing bloggers are using, & it’s a great idea.  I’m just going to do hits & misses from my resolutions list from January, I have too many projects to go through otherwise, & you’ll all be asleep! 🙂  So, from The list I made last year, here are my hits & misses, so to say.

  • First of all I was going to use up my stash!  I had decided that before buying anything new I had to use 2 pieces from my stash.  I think I did ok on this.  I made 41 projects using stash fabrics & 18 from new purchases.  I also bought fabric for 12 projects that technically don’t count, because they weren’t for any of us, but for my Vintage Belle project.  There were another 12 projects that also weren’t counted in this because they were cushions or pincushions & the like.  Not “real” sewing!  🙂
  • Getting out & about was next on the list.  I joined a Photo a Day group on Facebook & decided to get out more, rather than sit in front of my sewing machine all day.  I’ve had a great time following all the prompts from the group & am seriously thinking of carrying on next year!  I have a folder on my computer full of fabulous photos, some more so than others, and I’ve loved looking at things a little differently.  If you think you may want to give it a try, here is the post explaining it all.  Have fun!
  • Burda Challenge – oh dear, this was a complete fail!!!  I made 6 garments from this year’s Burda magazines, 2 of which were from the same pattern.  Two other projects I haven’t photographed at all, a pair of trousers from 2/13 & shorts for daughter No2 from the July issue.  Those shorts are somewhere in Sardinia….  The other project I made was a dress using just 1m of plaid fabric.  This one I am rather proud of!
Burda blouse 114 from 10/2013 & t-shirts 126 from 2/2013
Burda blouse 114 from 10/2013 & t-shirts 126 from 2/2013


  • The “joining in” resolution has also worked well.  I joined Jungle January, Sew for Victory in February, in March & April Kat & I hosted the great “Swap your Stash” project & in April & May I joined the International Craft Swap.  Also done was the Burda sew-along (an attempt to show Burda a bit more love this year!), Fall for Cotton, Sew Red October, etc, etc!  Since then Kat has made a list of all sorts of sew-alongs, etc on her site.  Go & check it out if you’re short on inspiration!  Kat has started another project with some fellow sewing conspirators at The Monthly Stitch.  You must go & see what happens there, something new every month.  A great joining in project has been to become a Sewcialist!  This has been great fun & I’m really looking forward to seeing next year’s offerings.
Craft swap with a nautical theme
Craft swap with a nautical theme


  • And I’ve already admitted that my resolution to make a shirt (at least) for the husband has been a fail of the worst sort.  Unfortunately, I can’t say I will get cracking & make one for him in January, because that month is looking pretty darned full already!

One thing I decided to do was to keep proper track of my sewing this year.  I got a cute notebook from Anne B during the great stash swap & decided to write up every project, where the fabric came from, the date completed, etc.  My first project was completed on the 2nd of January & the last one I finished was on the 20th December. ( I have 3 more cut, but I cannot count them as they’re not finished!)  “So how many did were there?”, I hear you ask….  Drum roll please…..


Eighty four sewing projects!!!  Phew…Not all of them were garments, or even whole garments!  I tried to make sure I had photos etc, but as usual, some slipped the net.  If you’d like to see them all, I made a board on Pinterest to keep track.  You can also see some of them on my other blog, Vintage Belle.

As far as what I’ll be getting up to next year – I have yet to make that list!  I guess that’s what I will be doing tomorrow  🙂  Fingers crossed I will make more time for pattern cutting, & I have a sneaking suspicion Jungle January will be rearing its head once more..  In the mean time, have a great New Year & I’ll see you on the other side!

sew on and sew forth-1Free printable poster from Sarah from Compulsive Craftiness.  For the download link, visit her blog.


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