Monday, 30 September 2013


Sew Fab Pattern Bundle / new and improved Reversible Zippy Hoodie

Hoodie Collage annotated

I'm really excited to be part of the second Sew Fab collaborative designer sewing pattern pack! If you're unfamiliar with the concept, twenty six designers have each donated a pattern and for one week only they're being sold as a bundle at 80% less than their individual cost. The reversible zippy hoodie pattern is my contribution and not only did I have Susan work her digitising magic on it for a cleaner look, but for the first time ever both sizes are together so you get 18m alllllll the way through to 8y.  So what else is included? A whole lot of awesome:

Reversible Zippy Hoodie from Kitschy Coo, Ananda Pants from CHOPSTIX, The Sally Dress from Very Shannon, Best Harem Pants from Too Sweets , Notebook Slipcover from Gingercake, Junebug Dress from Craftiness Is Not Optional, Fancy Pants Leggings from Titchy Threads, Skinny Jeans from peek-a-boo, Pajama Eaters from Sew Fearless, Ruffle Dress from Sumo's Sweet Stuff, Go To Cape for Women, Sadie Grace Nightgown from Seamingly Smitten, Vintage V-Neck from Blank Slate Patterns, Zermatt Bow Swing Coat from See Kate Sew, Tumble Tee from imaginegnats, Nituna Jacket from Figgy's, Greenpoint Cardigan from Hey June, Gathers and Giggles Quilt from Sew Much Ado, Billy Car Play Mat and Roll Up from Handmade Therapy, Bimaa Sweater from LouBee Clothing, Candy Carousel Dress from Molly Blossom, Convertible Clutch from LBG Studio , Infinity Sweater from One Girl Circus, Undies Pattern from From the Red Kitchen, Owl Backpack from The Sewing Loft, Ethan Shirt from the Scientific Seamstress

I've already made six of the patterns; it's a great selection of boys', girls', womens', and accessories. The bundle is only available for one week, and you can get your hands on it here:

As a designer, I get a portion of the sales made through my site so I really appreciate your support! For more information about the patterns and Sew Fab, keep reading for the official information below.


Welcome to the Fall and Winter 2013

Sew Fab e-pattern Sale Event!

Last February was the first ever Sew Fab e-pattern Sale and it was so successful and was so well received that Jenny Yarbrough of The Southern Institute, the creator and administrator of the sale, decided to have more!  This sale is bigger and better than the first, with plenty of patterns to get you through the fall and winter (if you live on this side of the hemisphere), and a few warm weather patterns thrown in for those of you who live on the other side of the world.  You'll also find more gender neutral patterns for those of you who are sewing for boys.  And what about you?  Of course there are a few women's patterns thrown in for some selfish sewing too! Over the past several weeks a lot of behind the scenes planning has taken place to bring you this newest bundle of ePatterns from many of the top established and up and coming online sewing pattern designers.  The result is a bundle of 26 PDF sewing patterns that you're going to love! For one week only, twenty-six pattern designers have come together to bring you 26 of their best PDF patterns, valued together at well over $2oo.oofor the incredible price of $29.95!!!  That’s over 80% off of the combined retail value! 
For less than $30.00 you will have a library of resources that you can use over and over again.
The designers that have joined this sale are experts in their craft.  Each designer has contributed one of their favorite patterns to create a bundle that is sure to please!  Whether you are sewing for your own family or making gifts for others, these are patterns that you will love to use.
If you’ve never sewn with a PDF pattern before, let me tell you how great it is!  After downloading your pattern instructions and your pattern, you will print out the pattern itself, creating pattern tiles, if you will.  Simply tape the tiles together to create the full pattern!  At that point you can cut out the size that you need and pin the paper pattern directly to your fabric, or you can trace the pattern size that you need onto sewing paper or tracing paper and cut it out, saving the paper pattern for later when you need to sew another size.  Pdf patterns are so convenient because you can print them out as many times as you need!

Now for the good stuff... the PATTERNS!

26 amazing ePatterns from 26 well-known and up and coming designers are instantly accessible to you by PDF download upon purchase of the Sew Fab e-Pattern Bundle.  Here are the patterns that you will receive (click on the links below the images for more  information about each pattern.):
Reversible Zippy Hoodie from Kitschy Coo, Ananda Pants from CHOPSTIX, The Sally Dress from Very Shannon, Best Harem Pants from Too Sweets , Notebook Slipcover from Gingercake, Junebug Dress from Craftiness Is Not Optional, Fancy Pants Leggings from Titchy Threads, Skinny Jeans from peek-a-boo, Pajama Eaters from Sew Fearless, Ruffle Dress from Sumo's Sweet Stuff, Go To Cape for Women, Sadie Grace Nightgown from Seamingly Smitten, Vintage V-Neck from Blank Slate Patterns, Zermatt Bow Swing Coat from See Kate Sew, Tumble Tee from imaginegnats, Nituna Jacket from Figgy's, Greenpoint Cardigan from Hey June, Gathers and Giggles Quilt from Sew Much Ado, Billy Car Play Mat and Roll Up from Handmade Therapy, Bimaa Sweater from LouBee Clothing, Candy Carousel Dress from Molly Blossom, Convertible Clutch from LBG Studio , Infinity Sweater from One Girl Circus, Undies Pattern from From the Red Kitchen, Owl Backpack from The Sewing Loft, Ethan Shirt from the Scientific Seamstress This Sew Fab e-Pattern Bundle is only available for one week and will never be available again!  You can purchase the bundle from September 30th at 8 a.m. EST through October 8th at 8 a.m. EST and there will be no late sales offered.  Due to the nature of the sale there are no refunds.
You don’t want to miss this unique opportunity to purchase a ready made collection of 26 PDF sewing patterns from 26 of the best designers out there!
  *Patterns included in the Sew Fab Pattern Bundle are intended for personal use only.  The selling of patterns without designer's permission is prohibited and punishable by law.  Please contact individual designers for licensing requirements if you desire to create and sell clothing from patterns that have been purchased through this sale. **For answers concerning sale terms and customer service questions, please see the FAQ page.  

Sunday, 29 September 2013


Take Two: Colourblocked Panelled Pinafore

colourblock panel pinafore full 2 b

I'm getting infinitesimally closer to a final version of the Panelled Pinafore.  Baby steps, baby steps.

colourblock panel pinafore 

For version two, I used plain organic jersey in navy, boysenberry, and turquoise to show off the seam lines and colour-blocking potential.

colourblock panel pinafore hem

I swapped out a straight-forward hem for a turquoise band to tie in with the neckbands, sleeve bands, and pockets.  I think this pattern will be a really fun base to play around with.

colourblock panel pinafore full 7 b

The plain jerseys aren't quite as stable as my printed jerseys and I made the (as it turns out, incorrect) executive decision to make the 7/8 size for Maia so this is a slouchier look than the pattern is intended.  She's between sizes but I think next time I'll use the 5/6 with a bit of added length.  It does, however, look ridiculously comfy. 

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Thursday, 26 September 2013


Selfish Sewing: Maritime Shorts

maritime shorts cover

In case you didn't notice, I am a Featured Stitcher on Made With Moxie's blog today with a pattern review for her and Imagine Gnat's Selfish Sewing Week.  When Jill asked if I'd be willing to review a pattern I jumped at the chance to a) actually make something for myself for fun and b) step out of my comfort zone and learn some new skills.  The Maritime Shorts from Grainline Studio fit the bill on both counts as not only have I never sewn myself woven shorts (or trousers for that matter) but I've also never sewn a zipper fly.  Shocking.

maritime shorts close

The printing, taping and tracing was a doddle and my measurements corresponded to a straight size 8 without blending between sizes.  Aiming for a wearable muslin for my first time, I used a nice teal thick canvas as it's already very autumnal in Scotland (as evidenced by the mid-shoot sweater addition- let's just say it was noticeably cold).  In hindsight, this wasn't the very best fabric to choose but more on that later.

maritime shorts back

I absolutely love the two cute pockets to the back; between these pockets and the tiny pocket I sewed on my Tumble Tee I think I've got a burgeoning pocket obsession.  Could they be behind my two cute pockets on the Panelled Pinafore?  Perhaps.  Crisp pressed edges, neat top-stitching, triangle corners... what's not to love?  And now the moment of truth... just how did I get on with that fly?  Not too shabby.  I admit that I had some issues with figuring out exactly how it would work (there is a separate tutorial on the Grainline blog with pictures that helped a lot) and I made some mistakes.  Clue: when she says baste she actually means baste because that stitching comes out later.  Despite knowing in my heart of hearts that no good would come of stitching both sides of a zipper face down, my cavalier attitude towards basting zippers (clue: nobody has time for that) won and my prize was a seam-ripper.  See also: baste the fly shield.

maritime shorts inside

Now that we're looking at the inside, I'll extrapolate a bit about the problem I had with this fabric - it has no right or wrong side.  Not a problem where the main pieces were concerned, but the cutting instructions had the waistband facings in the same fabric as the body fabric so I had two back pieces, two front right pieces, and two front left pieces in the same fabric, looking the same on both sides, and it all went haywire.  Because of the fly, the front left and right pieces are not symmetrical.  First I ironed interfacing onto the wrong pieces and had to cut them again.  And then I assembled the waistband wrong.  Finally I decided to find the precise back, front left and front right pieces needed to do the waistband correctly, set them aside and cut facings out of the pocket lining fabric.  In the end, this was a good idea as the canvas is so thick that a self-faced (with interfacing as well!) waistband would've been very bulky.  While we're talking about the pocket lining fabric, I also want to mention that you might need to notch the curve of the lining before pining and stitching it on, I just couldn't manage it without.

 maritime shorts full

I made one final schoolgirl error (entirely my own, no fault of the pattern!) in that I fitted it before attaching the waistband.  I have a tremendous swayback from my long career of standing louche-ly and when I tried it on I ascertained that I should pinch out an inch at centre back.  So I did, amended my waistband to reflect and soldiered on.  What I forgot, however, is that what I lack in the centre back I make up for in the centre front and that extra inch would be desirous at waistband height.   It's not a disaster and they're still wearable but I think I'll go right back to the original pattern for my next go.   Overall, I'm very pleased with how they turned out and I'm looking forward to making more for the summer in snazzier fabrics.

Disclosure: I received this pattern free as part of Selfish Sewing Week. All opinions my own.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


Handmade Costume Series: Minecraft Jamie

Inevitably, it's that time of the year where we're starting to think about our Halloween costumes.  Technically speaking I would've commenced the actual costume-labour the day before Halloween much closer to the end of October but I'm up on The Train To Crazy's Handmade Costume Series today!

Minecraft Cover Photo 750

Despite applying extreme pressure on the kids to chose a Doctor Who theme for which I could sew (I will never forgive Maia for turning down the Sister of Plenitude Cat Nurse), they had their hearts set on Minecraft Costumes.  If you don't have children or know children, you might be unfamiliar with Minecraft and I am currently jealous of you.  Jamie is obsessed, all of his friends are obsessed, Maia is working on it.

minecraft background

I couldn't find any conceivable way that I'd be able to utilise an actual skill of mine like sewing, so I was forced to deploy other crafting techniques (I hesitate to call them skills) of painting and 3-D construction.  The good news is that Minecraft is a 16 bit game designed to look heavily pixelated with all straight edges so it was fairly straightforward to replicate.

What you need  (a lot of these are do as I say, not as I do):
  • White heavy paper (I used normal printer-weight and would definitely recommend something heavier so it doesn't wrinkle from the paint) 
  • Cardboard to make the box (I salvaged corrugated cardboard as that's what I had to hand but I would definitely recommend choosing something with a smoother surface)
  • Paint (I used brown, black, white, red, peach, and yellow acrylics)
  • Ruler and pencil
  • Adhesive to fix your paper to your cardboard
  • Tape to form your box

minecraft 1

I wanted to concentrate most of my efforts on the front view so I Google image-searched and used this larger file for the basis of just the face.  I blew it up and printed it on glossy paper so I'd have a big visual reference and also somewhere to get the shades correct before committing it to paper.  Counting the pixels the face is 8x8 so I decided to use a 1.5" grid to yield a 12"x12" box.  Using a ruler I made the grid on my paper five times (front face, side left, side right, back head, and top head).  What I didn't do (but wish I had) was to add a margin of half an inch around all edges of the grid so it would be easier to wrap continuously around the box.

Minecraft 2

I started with a colour I already had and tested it right on the photo to make sure there was a colour-match  before committing it to the grid.

Minecraft 3

Once I'd exhausted the straight matches, I started mixing colours together on a palette to form the rest.  If you're attempting your own Minecraft Steve and following my advice to add margins along the edges, extend the paint on the border cells that extra half inch.

Minecraft 4

Keep on mixing paints and in four short hours, you'll have something like this (but with borders, because you're cleverer than me).  After the front was down it's time to do the remaining four sides, which thankfully are a lot less work.  I'd tracked down a different file for the remaining panels, printed that out on a much smaller scale and set to work on painting the rest.

minecraft 5

After all the panels are complete, leave the paint to dry (or stay up all night depending on your time-scale).  Once dry, cut five 12"x12" pieces of board and them together at the edges like so:

minecraft 6

Then fold the panels in to form a cube.  Use your adhesive of choice to attach the painted panels to the corresponding sides of the cube (told you those borders would come in handy).  And you're done!  Find an addict and make him stand in the garden at dawn for reasons-confusing-to-the-neighbours.

Minecraft Collage 2

Make it up to him by superimposing his Minecraft avatar into a screenshot of one of his very own servers.  Before you ask, nope, I haven't dealt with the eye holes yet.  This box is going to go on top of a body box closer to Halloween so I need to wait to see at what level his eyes are sitting at.

Thanks for having me, Andrea, and make sure you check out the rest of the series!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


The Panelled Pinafore

tunic princess seam detail

Despite a gazillion other things to do, I started working on another couple of patterns yesterday. Have you seen this infographic of the 12 Types of Procrastinators?  At any given time, I am at least seven of those.

tunic full 2

From a distance (and in this polka-dot fabric where it's hard to tell) there doesn't look like there's very much going on...

tunic seam lines

But zoom in and there's some visual interest!  There are armhole princess seams to the front.

tunic side

And the same to the back.  All those panels would be great for colour-blocking and print mixing.

tunic pocket detail

There are angled patch pockets at hip height.  This is the tunic length but there will also be a dress length.  It's a sleeker, more mod-ish silhouette, but particularly good for autumn and winter in heavier knits.  This polka-dot fabric that I've had in my stash forever is a medium weight french terry with very little stretch.

Tunic full

Maia likes it very much.

Saturday, 21 September 2013


This Just In: Preppy Puppies, Green Scooters, and lovely ribbing

Nosh prints collage

An exciting order came a couple of days ago from Nosh Organics in Finland with two colourways of the spotty / striped sausage dog print Preppy Puppy, and new colourway of the ever-popular Scooters (which sold out in blue the day before!). All three are gorgeous organic cotton blends of 95% cotton and 5% elastane, very soft and stable with great stretch and recovery. I cannot wait to get them sewn up.
Nosh ribbing collage

I'm also really excited about three new colours of ribbing. The red, black, petrol, and cappuccino ribbings from Lillestoff are 2x2 ribs, but these are 1x1s so they look and behave more like a thick jersey. They are a blend of 97% organic cotton / 3% elastane composition and when I did a stretch test a 4" strip yielded a 6" stretch and a bounce back to 4.25" so I think it's work even for 'load-bearing' trims like waistbands. Exciting!  Because colours are nuanced I've included some pics with existing prints so you can better see their tones.  They're all now available in the shop.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


This Just In: Trousers, trousers, everywhere

Kitschy Coo Trouser Collage

I've certainly been a busy bee this last week!  It's been a long while since I've had clothes listed in the shop (although I've continued to supply stockists and fulfilled orders through email) but keeping on top the fabric shop and developing patterns means it's tricky to keep a clothing line going in tandem.  All of the trousers pictured above are currently available and I hope to add dresses, skirts and tops over the next couple of weeks.  Like fabric by the metre, availability can change rapidly.

Juicytots Collage

Speaking of rapidly unavailable things, I've also restocked Juicytots with all of their previously-existing range in all the sizes I could (heads up- the nearly extinct Rainbowphant is back!) and added two new designs in Tattoos and Scandiflower Blue.

Monkey and Bo Collage

Monkey and Bo have also received new stock with four new designs: Camping, Cerise Stars, Sunny Sky, and Happy Girls.

Monday, 9 September 2013


Amanda on Ananda

Ananda pants front 2

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to test Jenny from The Southern Institute's first pattern, the Ananda Pants.  Do you know how tricky it is to type Ananda when your name is Amanda?  Heaps.

Ananda pants front

The trousers are wide leg yoga style, with a knit waistband in lieu of elastic.  Maia is pretty fussy about waistband comfort so these are a winner in our book.  Obviously the waist doesn't need to be pulled up quite so high, you can fold it down should you be overcome with the desire to do so.

Ananda pants back

Best thing about yoga waistbands? The bum coverage! Bum coverage for Maia is our mythical unicorn.  If I can track down grey and black ponte I'll be making her a bunch of school trousers with the Ananda pants as part of my Make Great Patterns Boring Initiative.

Maia face

You can get the pattern from the newly-launched Chopstix Patterns here!

Friday, 6 September 2013


Lady Skater Pattern Hack: Go Sleeveless

Lady Skater Tank

I know, what better way to celebrate autumn than to post the long-overdue Lady Skater Sleeveless hack!    Southern hemis, this one's for you.  Northern hemis, bookmark or pin for later.  All hemis, ignore the fact that my photos aren't technically even a Lady Skater Dress.  I'm demonstrating how easy it is to extend the bodice to make t-shirts.

LS Sleeveless Collage

So you want to make your Lady Skater sleeveless? You might remember that Cindy from Siestas and Sewing made a sleeveless skater for the tour as illustrated by the picture on the right.  If you do nothing to the bodice armhole except add trim as she did, the tank becomes a mini cap sleeve that is in no way displeasing, but if you prefer a more traditional tank-like appearance you have to change your armhole:

front skater bodice to tank

The main difference is to reduce the shoulder width.  The sleeved Lady Skaters are designed for the sleeve seam to hit right on the shoulder cap so removing the sleeve and adding trim means that the shoulder seam will extend over the shoulder cap.  If you want a skinnier shoulder, remove the greatest width at the top.  The red line shows the revised armhole- it's closer to vertical at the top, scooped out along the armhole curve, and tapered to nothing at the armpit.  The reason why I taper to nothing at the armpit is that I am very particular about my bra  band showing.  My short torso / big bust combo means that my bra bands hit very high up and it's my personal preference for a very close fitting sleeveless armhole.  If you prefer a looser armhole, feel free to scoop it out there too!  The purpose of scooping out along the curve is to compensate for the width of the band, but also to remove the pooling of excess fabric that can happen above the bust.

Lady Skater tank hack back bodice

After you've amended the front bodice, to amend the back bodice first ensure the shoulder width is the same as you're using for the front.  The back armhole is less curved than the front and pooling is less of an issue so you don't have to scoop into the curve, just remove a more-or-less uniform amount to account for the trim.  If you remove too much from the back armhole you risk the bra strap showing.  Make sure also that if you scooped into the armpit in the front bodice that you do the same to the back bodice so the side seams are still the same length.

 front skater bodice to tank band calc

Once you have revised your armhole for both the front and the back, you'll need to determine the length of band you will use to trim.  To do so measure the new armhole (less the shoulder seam allowance) and multiply it by .85 for the length.  This percentage works for fabric that has some elastane / lycra / spandex but if your fabric has less stretch and recovery (for example interlock) you might find .9 works better.  For the height I personally tend to use 4cm (so 2cm on the fold) as it results in a trim rather than band appearance but feel free to increase the height if you want.  Remember that the more you increase your trim height, the more you need to remove from the armhole curve.

front skater bodice to tank armpit

To sew on the band I follow the same process as the neckband in that I sew it on flat rather than in the round.  This is because I like to sew my side seams last so I can adjust any fitting problems then.  It is worth saying that if you're busty like me that you might find the extra wedge added to the front bodice piece needs to be removed in your sleeveless version.  With sleeves, this wedge reduces pulling across the chest and allows freer range of motion through the sleeve.  However, in a sleeveless version you might find that you need to pull the front bodice tighter at the armpit and sew the side seam closer (effectively pulling the band in and ) so that it hugs the curve of the bust without gaping.

Go forth and sleeveless!

Monday, 2 September 2013


This just in: Camping, Tattoos, Happy Suns, Scandiflower, and SWEATSHIRTING

New Lillestoff Collage

Seems like a blue theme this time with a small-scale tattoo print, a ditsy happy sun print, and our old favourite Scandiflower in a new, brighter colourway.  Not blue but awesome is Camping, in a fantastic palette of mossy greens, petrol, turquoise, red, and dark brown.  Not colours that are often seen together but that should end at once.

Sweatshirting Collage

Also in the box were two gorgeous organic sweatshirtings!  They're smooth on the right side and deliciously soft and snuggly on the inside.  Although they are 100% cotton (ie without elastane), due to their high quality organic nature they have surprising good stretch recovery. Although I am generally one to grasp on to and lament the end of summer, these sweatshirtings are softening the blow. 

All new fabrics (and some restocked plain jersey solids including the long-awaited return of dark red) have now been added to the shop.  While you are there you might notice that I edited every single one of the 120 listings to make the lead pictures uniform squares.  When my shop theme changed earlier this year the photo sizes changed too and it's been driving me quietly demented.  I hope this improves the visual experience of the site for fellow pedants.