Quarantine tank

The second project from my new knitting love Filati, this tank was started shortly after lockdown started in London, and was finished just before the kids went back to school.

The wool is Fyberspates Scrumptious 4 ply in Sea Foam, purchased at a knitting exhibition attended with my knitting buddy and colleague (also German pattern translator extraordinaire). The exhibition was in that short time when we were all aware of coronavirus, but not yet avoiding going out and doing things. Which seems like a long, long time ago now!

Anyways, back to the pattern, from Filati Magazine 57. I suspect that the Fyberspates wool was softer than that recommended for the pattern, but it worked out anyways. The pattern took ages to work out, given my style of knitting. But when I eventually got all the decreases and yarn overs worked out, the knitting was straightforward. It was easier to follow the chart than the instructions – which is probably true for most left-handers, once they’ve figured out which stitch is the best for left and right leaning decreases.

It is essentially 2 large rectangles, knit, turned sideways and stitched together before adding ribbing at the bottom and armholes.

It’s very rare for me to have a knitting project without any mistakes. Sometimes I unpick and fix. Sometimes, I can’t be bothered, This make has many mistakes despite my best efforts to work backwards and fix some (unpicking and/or fixing incorrect patterns in lace is a true test of patience and your understanding of the pattern!) The biggest error is that the back piece is upside down. It’s a subtle difference, and not one I think most observers would instantly identify. By the time I realised, fixing it was impossible. So it goes – just one more things that makes this a unique piece.

The annual dress – vintage cherry blossoms


Every year I purchase fabric at the Knitting and Stitching Show to make something for each of the girls. Sometimes it takes quite a long time to get round to making it. I set a goal this year to complete each girl’s dress by their birthday, which would ensure they were both done within 6 months of fabric purchase. Which is quite quick, given that I have some fabric from years and years ago…

This dress pattern was requested on one of the only times I was accompanied to the show (really, that show is no place for kids – it’s boring, and so crowded you are constantly afraid of losing your child in the crowd). I think she loved the drawing, with the very full skirt puffed out. I tried to explain it wouldn’t look quite like that – she didn’t care, she just wanted it.

The fabric is cotton, with cherry blossoms and a Torii gate, and was a dream to work with. I made a mistake in cutting out, which meant the closure at the back had to be bodged together. But it works and the fullness of the skirt ensures there is plenty of cover where the back opening overlap is a bit more shallow than it should be. I don’t love sewing in button closure on the back – not only does it mean lots of button sewing and buttonholes, but she can’t put it on herself.


Still, she loves it and it was done in time for her birthday. Success!

Unicorns in space!

It is now tradition for me, at the annual Knitting and Stitching Show, to purchase fabric to make dresses or skirts or something for each of my daughters. There is always a good selection of reasonable printed cotton or poly-cotton. But this print might be one of my favourite prints ever. Because it’s unicorns – in space.

The dress is New Look 6442 and is made slightly larger than required, to allow for growing into and longer wear. My daughter LOVES it and I often have to talk her out of wearing it when the weather is too cold or she has PE that day. I’m convinced the main reason she learned to tie her shoes was so she could also tie the dress herself (thus allowing her to wear it on PE days, when the kids have to wear things they can get in and out of themselves).

Unfortunately, after many months of wear and a few washes, it is now on the mending pile, following a round-related incident which saw one of the ties pulled/ripped from the side seam. I haven’t been able to look at it closely to see how easy it’ll be to fix – partly because I was so annoyed and hurt at the damage, and partly because I HATE mending things. Once I’ve finished the next dress, for the older daughter, I’ll rethread the machine and attempt a fix. Until then, the unicorns are grounded.

I don’t even like the 50’s style…

IMG_20200107_124040I buy patterns that never get made. Maybe most sewers do – it looks good in the drawing, the photos are nice, maybe you kind of wish you could wear that style or look that good. I’m not sure why I bought Simplicity 3673 – I don’t even particularly like the 1950’s as a style, and frankly it’s not really my style.

In any case, I’ve had the pattern for a while and never made it (that’s surely a sign). Then I had some lovely blue green wool, originally purchased to make a tailored suit jacket and skirt. (And funny pattern story there – bought the wool to make the jacket, then realised that the pattern was the wrong size – too small – and therefore I didn’t have enough wool. And as it was purchased at a show, no way of getting more). So casting about for something to sew, I put pattern requirements against fabric available and decided to make this dress.

Now perhaps it would have turned out better if I had gone for the pencil skirt version. Or perhaps I should have tried a different full bust adjusment (or even just realised that ickle gathers under the bust were NEVER going to work for me). In any case, I did try and adjust the pattern to fit at the top better – kind of failed because I have NO patience for toiles, even when I know how much better they make the final product.

In the end, the dress is OK, but the bust isn’t quite right. And the style isn’t quite my style. And though the wool is lovely, I don’t love the dress. So beyond wearing it this one time, I haven’t worn it again. It will get a few more outings, to see if I can develop a relationships with it in different weather. But seems like I still haven’t learned – when you’re short on sewing time, focus on doing things that will suit you, that you love, and do them well.


Slouchy mix match aubergine suit

This suit was better in concept than execution. The fabric isn’t at fault – although a soft linen probably needed a better choice of patterns. It was purchased a couple years ago at a Santa Cruz, CA fabric shop just down the street from where I used to live in college. I made the trousers first, from a Papercut pattern (Nagoya pants) and made a mistake in measuring and adjusting. This resulted in the trousers being far too large around the hips and backside, and I went through numerous attempts to make them fit properly. I’m still not sure I’ve managed it. The pattern also would look better with a stiffer and heavier fabric. Despite sewing for 30+ years, it’s still very possible to make many many basic errors!

I then cast about in my patterns for a jacket that would match. This was not planned from the outset – again, a mistake. This is the classic Vogue Chanel style jacket – and again, this is probably not the right fabric or treatment for a successful make. The jacket is a bit more successful than the trousers, but I’m not thrilled with either and suspect this won’t get much wear.

It’s a disappointment, especially for someone time poor, to spend so much time making something that isn’t great, fits well and that you love. Don’t get me wrong – it’s super comfortable, and it’s not terrible – but it’s not something I see in my closet and get excited about.

Lessons that I seem to need to keep learning:

  • Don’t buy fabric on spec – only buy it because it’s the right thing for a pattern you’re making
  • Choose the right fabric for the pattern – and don’t just match up what fabric you have with a pattern you have and hope for the best
  • Take time with the measurements and when you can see it going wrong during the make, take the time to fix it then and there!

And despite this failure, and the lessons above, the next thing I made was – you guessed it – finding some fabric and then picking from patterns I already had and hoping for the best…


The mysterious purple cable and lace knit

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. My rate of creation has slowed since having kids, but that’s not the only reason. Getting things photographed when they are worn seems to be a task that I struggle with.


In any case, my lovely work colleague finally took a shot of this lavender cable and lace number, which I’ve had for 1, maybe 2 years now. I’ve worn it several times – it’s a good ‘in between seasons’ piece. But the down side is I have no memory of which pattern it’s based on. I only recall that it came from a magazine. Big help eh?

The bottom ribbing was lengthened (nothing I hate more than a too-short jumper) but otherwise, knit as written.

Liberty Work Shirt

IMG_20170110_105838058I struggle to get button down shirts that fit correctly. Getting the right bust size so you don’t have a “between button peep show”,  without it looking like a tent is hard enough. Then there’s getting a shirt long enough in both the waist and the arms. So I have, over the years, attempted to sew my own shirts for a more custom fit.

The advantage of the V9029 pattern is the use of princess seams, which allows for an easier full bust adjustment. Having said that, I didn’t end up needing one as I went for a slightly fuller fit for comfort. Still, it’s nice to have that option. I lengthened the body but didn’t need to lengthen the arms.

IMG_20170110_071038025This is a nice pattern, with just the right amount of detail to make it a good work shirt without so much detail or technique that it becomes a pain to sew. Some of the detail is lost in the pattern of the fabric, but I reckon this would look smart in a solid colour as well.

The fabric is a Liberty print, purchased for £15 per meter – so overall the shirt cost about what I would expect to pay for a standard off the rack shirt. I’ve no plans to make another just yet, but the next time I feel the need for a new work shirt, this will be at the top of the list for patterns.

Slinky Thurlow

IMG_20160408_093049718_HDRSince having kids I’m increasingly in the position of having way more in my pattern and fabric stash than I can possibly get through. I’m trying not to buy new things, but it’s tricky when the Knitting and Stitching show comes round each year and it’s just minutes from my house.

These trousers, however, are a triumph of sewing from the stash, as the pattern and fabric have been knocking about for ages. They weren’t originally intended for each other either. The fabric was purchased in Ipoh, Malaysia, probably about 10 years ago. It was intended for a suit, but when I tried to make said suit, I realised the pattern was for a slimmer version of me, so it just wasn’t going to work. It’s a lovely, drapey synthetic that washes well – perfect for a pair of work trousers.






I have had the Sewaholic Thurlow pattern for maybe 3-4 years. It has all the things I like in trousers – a slight boot cut, back welts, proper pockets. And it’s a nicely constructed pattern too. My only issue was that it sits a little low. But all in all, I’m pretty happy with these.

IMG_20160408_070042231I made a muslin, which was a good move, as I ended up adding to the crotch curve to correct for a bit of tightness in the back. Otherwise, no adjustments were needed, not even to the length which is usually an issue for me. These took about 6 weeks to complete, doing 5-10 minutes a day when I could. Not sure I’ll make them again, but am happy to finally have this fabric out of the stash and into the closet.

Alice in Wonderland becomes a Librarian

IMG_20160210_091959959When I was a teenager, I discovered a lovely green and blue plaid woolen dress in my mother’s closet. She’d made it when younger and said she was so sick of it by the time she finished making it (with all the pattern matching, etc to be done), that she didn’t wear it much. She was happy for me to have it and I wore it ALL THE TIME. I still have it, even though I haven’t been able to fit into it in decades, and though it’s a bit worse for wear, I still love it.


Back seam along invisible zipper

Back seam along invisible zipper

Perhaps this dress has a similar fate. It was finished sometime in 2014. I wore it once before becoming pregnant again, and so it languished in the closet until I returned to work earlier this year. This is my first ever attempt at matching plaids and, while Butterick 4386 isn’t the most complex pattern I could have chosen, it was still challenge enough to get everything lined up. In the end, I’m very pleased with the matching – the back on each side of the zipper lines up very well and the pockets are spot on. It’s an accomplished make, from fine medium weight wool fabric.

IMG_20160210_070251805But it’s not a firm favourite in the wardrobe rotation yet, for two reasons. The first is easy to fix: I need to find better accompaniments – from the shoes to the tights and the shirt underneath. Currently, I’m stuck with white. And that brings me to reason number two – when I wear this with white tights, I feel like Alice in Wonderland has grown up and become a librarian. Maybe I’ve been in Britain so long I’ve internalised the distaste for white tights (even without fully understanding it). Or perhaps I just feel I can’t quite get away with white tights at my age. In any case, until I find a better complete ensemble, I think this lovely dress may stay closet-bound. Maybe my daughters will discover and rescue it in 10-15 years.

Baby cord jacket for my grown up baby

FrontKwik Sew 3113 is adorable and I couldn’t resist the challenge of making a ‘jean jacket’ for my pre-schooler. And I had just enough blue-green baby cord to make it work.
This is the first Kwik Sew pattern I’ve ever used, but I’m smitten. There were some very clever construction details, such as the in-seam pockets, and it was very clean and neat to put together. With the fake flat-felled seams, I didn’t need to finish many seam allowances at all, meaning this was a pretty quick make, all things considered.

BackMore accuracy in cutting and construction would have given me a cleaner edge on the internal collar, but I got round this by binding the inner edge with cream bias binding. Not ideal, and still not as neat at the edges as I would like, but not too bad. I finished with some lovely floral printed wooden buttons, which just happened to match quite nicely.

OpenPlacketMy big mistake was lack of attention on the cuffs. As I was nearing the end, I was getting cocky and/or tired, and didn’t pay attention to which side the buttonhole (sewn and cut before adding the cuff to the sleeve) should go on. So I put the wrong cuff on the wrong sleeve and didn’t notice until all the top stitching had been done. I could have unpicked and tried again, but I couldn’t be bothered. So the button closes to the inside, to make the sleeve and cuff lie straight. On the plus side, the lovely button shows if you wear the sleeves open and folded up once.closedPlacket

I thought my daughter would love this when it was finished. Alas, she didn’t give it a second look and I had to cajole her into wearing it once for a fitting issue. She’s definitely not a baby that I can dress up in whatever I want any more! Never mind – perhaps her little sister will want it in a few years’ time.