Top 5 Reflections, Goals and Highlights bumper edition

This will be my last Top 5 post for 2017 and is a little collation of the last few topics in Gillian’s Top 5 series, which you can read all about here. These comprise my sewing reflections, non-sewing highlights and a few goals for next year. I tend to be the sort of person who thinks “Who on earth would be interested in my highlights?”, but I enjoy reading other people’s, so there’s my answer, I suppose. You can also read my posted Top 5 sewing hits and Top 5 sewing misses should the need hit you (and we all know which one is more fun to read ;))


Sewing reflections

Wardrobe progress: I’ve been sewing for about 2 years now and one of my “goals” from a year ago was to try and make more garments that coordinated, rather than just the stuff I like that doesn’t match anything else in my wardrobe. I think I’ve been fairly successful in that with the completion of a number of wardrobe basics, including the Scout tee, Lindens and various cardigans . Most days I wear at least one, if not two me-made items and that will only increase now I’m making the likes of jeans.


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New menswear: Ottobre Family Urban Classic briefs

Have you seen the new Ottobre Family edition yet? I saw there was a new magazine (07/2017) in town when they did their great Black Friday sale (free international shipping!) and snapped one up to take a peek. I’m familiar with Ottobre Kids (brilliant) and have seen the odd Woman edition, but Family is the one to get if you’re after menswear or teenwear (particularly male teens I’d say). In this edition are some fantastic menswear patterns including these briefs, a long-sleeved tee, slim chinos, jeans, a sports jacket, hoodie and much more. I decided to make a couple of fairly last-minute patterns as Xmas presents for my husband and these briefs were the first garment.


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Top 5 Misses of 2017

With every success comes a failure… or something like that. Time to take a look at five of my most impressive 2017 scunners as part of Gillian’s Top 5 round-up series:


  1. Cali Faye Pocket Skirt and Valley Blouse

I made both of these garments as part of the #sewmystyle challenge this year. Many people made great versions of both patterns and there was only one problem with mine. The largest size was still way too small. It’s a shame because these were some of the patterns I was looking forward to making most, but with an XL that’s sized fairly small, I guess I wouldn’t have been the only sewist who didn’t have success.


The skirt may fit me one day soon (I’m losing a little weight from my recent triathlon training) and I love the fabric, but the top is a no-hoper. My boobs will always look like a mono-boob in this style of blouse. On the bright side, my sister tried on the unfinished shirt while visiting recently and it looked great on her. She fancied it sleeveless, so I’m going to try and bind those soon, hem it and then I’ll post it off to her. Not a total waste after all!

2. Colette Moneta Version 3


I like the Colette Moneta, but this experiment didn’t quite pan out the way I hoped. I used the wrong fabric for the body piece – too light and stretchy a rayon, and my adjustment to lengthen the body didn’t work out as intended either. I think it’s good for me to try things out, but this dress probably won’t get much of an outing – except perhaps as a costume to somewhere. Less glam 30s tea dance dress and more body sausage.

3. Vintage Kwik Sew tee and Simplicity 8019 skirt


I haven’t even blogged about these guys yet (see above) – and maybe I never will. They are both makes from my #makenine list and they’re failures for different reasons. The tee is made as a wearable muslin really and the fabric is pretty horrible and cheap. I thought it would be cool to try something vintage and the fit is indeed… vintage. It’s quite roomy, but I just don’t see myself wearing it – it’s a little dated (not in a good way).



The skirt is perfectly fine, but I made it too small. I don’t know what I was thinking (I don’t even know how that’s possible with a Big 4 pattern), but it is several inches too small around the waist. I can’t actually lay my hands on it right now for a quick pic, but believe me that I’m not going to the bother of adding buttons or snaps until it fits! That may be when hell freezes over though.

4. Seamwork/Colette Gretta and Mabel


I wrote about these as failures on my blog earlier this year, so I won’t repeat too much about them here. I have pretty good luck with Colette and Seamwork in general actually, but the drafting on the Gretta top was way off for me. Too many adjustments for a simple tank top. The Mabel, on the other hand, was another case of dodgy fabric choice by me and an unflattering style for my figure. The idea was sound, but the result sadly unwearable.

5. Bridgetown dress


This is a nice dress, but after wearing it a few times I came to the conclusion it just doesn’t suit my figure. It’s too short in the body for me and the elasticated waist annoys me and rides up a bit as I’m busying about my daily life. I also snipped a hole in it while making it and sadly my repairs turned out to be pretty shoddy and it frayed like heck in the wash. However, once again, my sister tried it on and it worked for her perfectly, so I think I will knock her up one in a different fabric. I do love this Cotton and Steel rayon though, so am going to try and salvage the bottom half of the dress and refashion it into a skirt.

Overall: as you can see, most of my failures were from bad fabric choice, poor sizing decisions or from experiments gone wrong. I think I’m getting better at matching fabrics to patterns and also at figuring out what works for my shape, so I’ll be interested to see how this list looks next year. Will I learn my lesson(s)? Let’s see…*




Top 5 Hits of 2017

I follow a fair few bloggers these days and I have to say that Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow is one of the many I hugely admire. Not only does she have a crazy level of sewing output in terms of challenges, makes and whole projects (The Sewcialists for example), she’s one of those people who often has me nodding my head in agreement, thinking what a wise lady she is. Anyway, enough rambling flattery – the point of this post is that she has a sewing Top Hits round-up she invites people to join in on every year and I’m doing so for 2017. Nothing like a bit of summation and reflection to give you pause for thought and I actually really enjoy reading other people’s. Without further ado then, my top sewing hits for 2017:


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New dress: V9264 – a Christmas dress and designer knock-off


20171210_115320This dress came about for several reasons. Initially I happened to spot a wonderful Marc Jacobs dress in Nordstrom. I occasionally pop up to the designer floor to check out the sewing on some of the garments and get a little inspiration. I’ve never been a designer clothes wearer, but I thought the design on this $995 dress (below left) was really sharp and interesting, and the velvet was of beautiful quality. I wouldn’t have really noticed it in a picture, but in real life the dress just sort of glowed. Of course, it was also hitting those three big A/W fashion trends of red, velvet and shoulders/sleeves, which would normally put me off in all honesty, but it just so happens that I rather like red anyway, so… YES! Continue reading “New dress: V9264 – a Christmas dress and designer knock-off”

New knit: The Tin Can Knits Rye Socks


My third and latest knitting project is this pair of Rye Socks from the Simple Collection by Tin Can Knits. In case you don’t know the series, it’s a collection of 10 free patterns aiming to build up your knitting skills from zero to… something higher than zero. You start off with a scarf or cowl, move onto a hat (I made the Barley Hat already) and then progress through socks and mittens to sweaters and intricate shawls. Of course, you can pick and choose whatever you like. The instructions are fabulous and the patterns appealing.

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New outfit: Simplicity 1072 pencil skirt and sweater

Hello from the Californian desert! I’m on holiday with the family and visiting my father-in-law, who lives out in snake and scorpion territory. Very exciting! It was hard to get great light for these pics with all the holiday goings-on, but I managed to snap a few. And I’ve got to tell you it is so nice when you make something that you really like and know you are going to wear non-stop. I can usually find something to like in most of my makes, even if it’s just the learning process for some of them, but there’s nothing like using a pattern and thinking – aha! – that is my perfect t-shirt/skirt/shorts/crotchless bodysuit/whatever.


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New undies: The Cloth Habit Watsons and Evie La Luve Maxines

I’m a newbie to sewing underwear, but nevertheless I’m well aware that there is a whole lot of other content for lingerie, including articles, round-ups, plenty of tips and articles to dive into. I’ve browsed around and read bits and pieces, but the thing with lingerie (and me, actually) is that I’ve no idea whatsoever what it is that people are talking about most of the time. It seems quite technical and lingo-dense, so that, even though I know that’s mostly because of the bra stuff rather than the knickers stuff, I figured I’d jump in, make some undies and then everything might make more sense.


I’ve been aware of the Watson bra and pants pattern set for a long time and already had the pattern. They’ve been so popular with sewists everywhere that it seemed like a formality to try this design out when kicking off my journey into undercarriage coverings. In addition, I’m taking part in Bimble and Pimble’s #bpsewvember Instagram photohop, and in response to one of the prompts, someone alerted me to the existence of the FREE Evie La Luve Maxine pants (I capitalize FREE since that’s always a nice thing) and highly recommended them. So I figured – why not? – and printed off that pattern too. Continue reading “New undies: The Cloth Habit Watsons and Evie La Luve Maxines”

New garment: Brindille & Twig zip jacket

As  anyone who’s read my blog for a while will know, I have a soft spot for Brindille & Twig patterns for kids. It’s not so much the drafting or design (although both are solid) as it is so much the modernity of the patterns. These are clothes that kids actually want to wear. They’re practical (virtually all knit), quick to sew and they always look funky and fun. Their new pattern is the zip jacket and as soon as I saw it, I tossed it straight into my virtual basket and coughed up the dough. This is very unlike me – I’m not usually an early adopter – but I thought it was cool.


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New trousers: Butterick B6178 OR it too culotte of time, but I finished them…

Yes, believe it or not, I have finally finished a pair of trousers this year. Woohoo! I actually finished them pretty much on schedule in September, but for a silvery hook and eye, which I could not. be. arsed. to sew on. But I finally have! And I’m pleased to say this was a very simple and satisfying sew, albeit not necessarily my most flattering sew. I can see why the Butterick B6178 pattern is so popular.


I also now know why the editors on Project Runway are always saying how black is such a terrible colour to shoot. I’ve highlighted the black linen I used for the culottes a little and now they just look very wrinkly! Ah well. It’s a medium-weight linen and was very nice to sew with I must say. Continue reading “New trousers: Butterick B6178 OR it too culotte of time, but I finished them…”