New test: The Elio wrap top from Allie Olson Patterns

I enjoyed testing the Highlands Wrap Dress in extended sizing for Allie, so when the call went out for testers for the Elio top, I was happy to participate. Additionally, I am slightly lacking in simple, interesting tops in my wardrobe and I certainly don’t have any type of knit wrap top, so nailing a useful wardrobe staple really appealed to me.

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New sleepwear: the epic saga of Christmas Carolyn pajamas and Ottobre menswear

Oh my gosh. I planned on making the Closet Core Patterns Carolyn pyjamas for the December Sew My Style project. And when I say the “December project”, I mean the Christmas 2019 December project. Yes, this is officially a mixture of very old project and that golden unicorn – the finally-finished UFO project. I had the bright last-minute idea of making sleepwear for everyone in my household as a well-meant gift on an impossible timescale. A pair of men’s pyjama bottoms for my husband and a pair of Carolyn pyjamas for my mother-in-law. And while I was at it, why not another pair for myself? I mean, they’re just pyjamas, right? Why not indeed?

Anyone who has already made the Carolyn pyjamas will be chuckling at this point knowing, as I too now know, that the Carolyn pyjamas are not a simple cut and sew project. They are beautifully detailed and those details take time. Quite a bit of time, actually. As well as that, my green pyjamas project was one of those where lots of little annoying things happened.

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New sweater: The Amari jacket from Seamwork January

Hello everyone and a Happy New Year to you all! I hope you had a happy celebration, tucked away with your loved ones, and here’s to 2021 being a better year than 2020 was. I just have a short and sweet post today with some pictures of the Seamwork Amari jacket that is one of the two new patterns in Seamwork’s January magazine. I actually ended up making two, because my mother-in-law liked mine, so I whipped up another for her. It’s such a fast sew, it didn’t take long.

The Amari jacket is a pullover with dropped shoulders, a yoke, a stand collar and a quarter-zip. Seamwork recommend that you use knit fabrics with at least 25% stretch and that they are medium to heavyweight. You really need this so the stand collar sits up and also so that the zip can be attached properly. I used a lighter French terry for mine, and a thicker brushed merino for my mother-in-law’s pullover and you can see the difference in the stand collar (see hers further down the page). Hers is nice and upright, while mine, although still perfectly acceptable, is a little softer. I wouldn’t want to use a fabric any lighter than that. The bonus version of the pattern has a hood and drawstring, which is a nice alternative.

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My #SewingTop5 Misses (Fails) of 2020

Fails. Misses. Cock-ups. Chances to Improve One’s Skills. Whatever you want to call them, these are the things I made this year that didn’t quite work out for some reason. It makes me happy to say that it was really quite hard to find five items that come into this category, so my hit rate is steadily getting higher. Nevertheless, there were some. Here are my misses from 2019, 2018 and 2017 if you’re interested (last year is a personal fave of mine) and here are this year’s:

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My first quilt – a patchwork Alison Glass observatory throw quilt

Well, I never! If you’d told me 10 years ago I’d be making a quilt in 2020, I’d have split my sides on the floor laughing. Not because I’m a horrible person, but I would never have imagined myself to have the patience, interest and wherewithall to actually make such a thing. Even after I started making clothes, I regarded quilt-making as anOTHER craft. We don’t have a big quilt-making tradition in Scotland and so I saw it mostly as a charming, but quaint, American custom. I could see the appeal in theory but in practice found a lot of the quilts I saw pretty chintzy and not to my taste. Slowly, however, I became aware of modern quilting and started to see wonderful fresh (to my eyes) designs on Instagram here and there. I knew some of my favourite fabric designers, such as Carolyn Friedlander, Cotton + Steel and Ruby Star Society really dealt primarily with quilt fabrics and when I saw what quilters were producing with their fabric I started to be drawn in.

What really led me to actually making one, though, was that I planned to make a quilt to commemorate my parent’s golden wedding anniversary. I picked out a pattern and fabrics – and then realised I neither had a clue where to start, nor the necessary skills to sew such an important gift to a half-decent standard. Covid-19 arrived and during the US Presidential election week, I found myself casting around for something interesting, but not too technical, that I could do sitting in the living room, watching the news, rather than behind the sewing machine. So I came to the idea of a bright, colourful and very simple quilt. I could learn some skills and cheer myself up with the rainbow hues of Alison Glass’ Observatory Collection prints at the same time. Bingo!

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My #SewingTop5 Hits of 2020!

It’s the 20th of December! Argh! When did that happen? I’m actually reasonably organised for the holidays this year (I say this tentatively in case I’m tempting fate here) but I haven’t done a whole lot of sewing the last few weeks (at least, garment sewing) and I completely forgot about the end of year round-ups, which I love to take part in. I have lots of thoughts about the Year That Was 2020, but I’ll perhaps save those for the longer Reflections and Plans post I’ll do last. For now, here is my Sewing Top 5 Hits take that is part of a traditional round-up series from Gillian/The Sewcialists that I’ve taken part in for four years now. (Here are the same posts from 2019, 2018 and 2017 if you’re interested). Next up with be Sewing Fails and then the aforementioned Reflections post for 2020.

Without further ado, here are my #SewingTop5 Hits for 2020. It was actually really hard to pick this year. As I looked through my year’s sewing, I felt like a lot of my garments in 2020 had turned out rather well and the proportion of items I’m wearing on a regular basis is very high. This is in no small part down to the fact that I made a couple of intentional capsule wardrobes this year and the items from them are in high rotation. As always, it begs the question of how you classify your “best” makes and it’s not easy. I’ve gone for a mixture and here they are!

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New test: The Willa Coat from Jennifer Lauren

Regular readers of this blog will know I enjoy testing patterns for Jennifer: the instructions are always superb; I always learn something new and, most importantly, end up with a very wearable garment. When I saw her Instagram tease back in July (wow – was it that long ago??) that she was releasing her first coat pattern this autumn, I was interested for the above reasons – and also because of the gorgeous looking tease pic! Luckily, I managed to get a test spot for the size 18 (Jennifer is very fair and allocates tests as they are applied for on a first come, first served basis). It was such an enjoyable project and there’s a ton to say about it, so settle in for the details*…

*or skip through the pictures. I won’t be offended.

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New outerwear: The Harry Cape from I AM Patterns

Yes! A cape! I know, I know. When I told my husband I was making a cape, the first thing he said was, “like a superhero cape?”. Understandably, I suppose. I didn’t really know what to come back with apart from, “well, it’s called the…umm… “Harry” cape – like, umm, well… the boy wizard Harry Potter, …I guess?” To which he rolled his eyes and sniggered. “Or”, I followed up, “maybe it’s what Prince Harry wears when he ventures out amongst the civilians in LA. You know… more of a regal thing?”. Frankly, I have no idea, but since it’s from the “I AM Magic collection” along with my floaty Irma dress, I guess the former is more likely.

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New dress: Irma shirtdress by I AM Patterns

So…yes… now for a definite bit of Covid frosting and some much needed distraction from current affairs! If you don’t know what “frosting” is in terms of sewing (or “icing” for us Brits), it’s the type of frivolous, exuberant sewing that doesn’t necessarily encompass the most practical, everyday of garments, but is sewing for the fun of it, using a striking pattern or perhaps some flamboyant fabric. And as you can see, I decided to combat the approaching winter blues by going for optimum frosting with colourful choices for both pattern and fabric. Ha!

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New dress: The Seamwork Devon for November

The Seamwork Devon is one of the November patterns for Seamwork and boy, are they both corkers this month! I would normally have sewn up both of them, had I not just finished making a bunch of jackets and coats, but I can tell you I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone does with the Baz. Maybe I’ll come back to it early next year.

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