Colette Negroni Take 2

A little while back I made Trev a Colette Negroni shirt.

Here's a refresh – it was a success, although we thought it was a bit big on him, but we weren't sure if we could scale down to a medium.

I duly set about measuring Trev and pattern pieces with a tape measure and I worked out that while making a medium would give less ease than planned for in the pattern, I thought it should still fit.

I duly got to work cutting pattern pieces. A shirt such as this has lots of flat felled seams…

And ta-dah!

Pretty happy with it! Omitted the pockets this time, but still cut the back yoke on the bias for a more interesting look.

I couldn't get any of the stripes at the front to match up as this was the worst fabric in the world. After washing, it bunched up in some awful way and no amount of pressing or steaming would get it to lie flat again. You can see some of the wrinkling below, but at least the back yoke is sort of central in terms of the check print.

The shoulder line falls much more in the right place – see the terrible fabric!

I did probably sew the collar upside down. You interface one of the two pieces, and on reflection I should have flipped it the other way around as some of the edge has rolled to this side. But not the biggest problem – I think you'd have to be up close to see this.

Trev's worn the shirt several times since and is very happy with it. I'm sure the faults I have with it will be invisible to most people.

The next plan is to make him a more formal shirt with a collar stand and long sleeves/plackets. Unsure when I'll get around to it as I've got a few bits for myself I want to finish and it's likely we will be moving house in a few months as I'll soon be changing job! Too much to talk about in a single post :)

Lots more sewing to report soon!

Sewaholic Renfrew Number 2

Woop remember Renfrew number 1? I love it so much I decided to make a second one!

This new one, which the camera keeps making look a very odd shade of blue, is actually made from the same material as Renfrew 1, but from the wrong side. As it was a double knit it was solid on one side with the star print on the other, so I was just able to squeak out a version featuring the round neck and long sleeves.

This top featured the same “cheater FBA” that I did on the first one. This time round with it being a solid colour, it's more obvious that I need more room above and beyond what this cheat method has added. See those wrinkles? Next time I will try a proper FBA and see how we get on.

It's also interesting to note that I have the same bagginess at the lower back. If I'm not mistaken, this means I need to do a sway back adjustment. What do you think?

I am very proud of some of the details on this top. I decided to use one contrasting thread with my twin needle, mostly because I couldn't be bothered to wind with another bobbin, but I think it looks quite nice with the pink!

This time around I even managed to get most of my seams to line up. Awesomeness.

I also decided I'd twin-needle/top-stitch the bottom band of the top, for a decorative detail. I think this looks quite nice, but brings me to twin-stitching fail #1 with this top:

  • Make sure you don't have your stitch set to zigzag. If you do, you'll manage to break your £4 needle before you've sewn a single stitch. Oops.

So, a fresh twin needle later, I decided I'd also top-stitch the cuffs. This was trickier we even with using my free arm, it was too tight to do easily – the cuff circumference was just too small. I imagine it'd be easier on the 3/4 length sleeve as they would be a touch wider. But they still look good!

This brings me to top-stitching fail #2 which is less to do with top-stitching and more with my being a dope

  • Remember to lower the presser foot before you start sewing. Sounds so obvious, right?

Yeah, doesn't it look lousy? I should probably have torn it out and started again, but it's on the inside cuff and isn't seen that much.

This was also the first time I used my shiny new walking foot. It certainly seems to help with keeping things nice and even and I'll be sure to use it on all knit projects moving forward.

What I find interesting, having now made two of these, is that knits are meant to be more forgiving, yet I can still see plenty of fit issues I'd like to rectify. I guess some of these fit issues will be standard and I will be able to make them easily to future projects without too much hassle. Still so much learning to do though! But lots more knits in my future. It's been so warm these last few weeks, I really regret having not sewn up more of a summer wardrobe. But there's still time to hopefully knock out a couple more pieces before the weather turns.

I hope :)

In Training

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am in training! For what, I hear you ask?

During a fit of madness, we decided that it would be a brilliant idea to join the latest London Brompton Club ride planned for our neck of the woods which happens at the end of September. It will take in a number of West Yorkshire highlights but will include one of the climbs that featured in the Tour de France when it came to town last month.

This particular climb is known as the Côte d'Oxenhope Moor and is rated as a category 3 climb. What this means to those that don't speak bike is that it's 2.5 miles solidly uphill at a pretty mean gradient.

The upshot of this is that without serious training, I'm likely to either a) pass out or b) just die. I'm an overweight asthmatic with a lung capacity further compromised by my sleep issues and I'm determined to either not wind up at the back, or have to get off and push. I don't mind having to do one of these things, but I really don't want to be at the back AND walking up the hill.

With this in mind Trev and I are working on a plan to boost my fitness and our general stamina/hill-climbing ability. Stage One of this plan was attending today's Skyride in Manchester.

Skyrides are fabulous things and I'd encourage anyone who owns a bike to look up the one in their local area. Sky manage to shut down entire sections of city centres so that you get to cycle with thousands of other cyclists on traffic free roads. While there are a tiny minority of MAMIL roadies who seem to view it as a chance to improve their segment times on Strava, in the main it's fantastic and brilliant to be on the roads with so many other people on bikes.

So, we set off bright and early this morning to Manchester, with the aim of getting there not long after the course had opened at 10am. Trev had found a more direct route to Dewsbury station which he warned me featured a bit of a hill (perk of living in a valley – everything is up a bleeding hill) – I wasn't quite prepared for the (I'm certain it was steeper than this) near 7% killer I had to brave before 9am!

It certainly emphasised the need for more training.

We got to Piccadilly in good time and simply joined the stream of cyclists going past when we emerged from the station. We opted to not collect any free hi-vis vests this time as it actually turned out to be easier to spot each other amongst the sea of highlighter yellow as we were both in contrasting colours.

The route was a good one – over 7 miles, taking in the Etihad stadium, the British Cycling velodrome and loads of other fun activities for those who want to try sprinting, BMXing or the Wattbike, or some of the other activities that they have planned.

Our plan had been to do at least three laps, in order to have done 20 miles. On lap one we had a brief stop by the Etihad:

We also took a small diversion into the Velodrome, as you had the opportunity to complete a lap. Why not? While doing this I also learned that I am able to take photos on my phone one-handed while cycling. As long as you don't care about the pictures being in focus of course:

In the end we only managed two laps. The heavens opened and we were rather hungry. The route was also beginning to get quite busy and we had a minimum speed we wanted to try and maintain if possible.

All in all though, we did 15 miles around Manchester and I was able to deliver a 24mph result in the sprint from a standing start (faster than Trev, woo!). The fastest I got up to was just over 28mph, which I normally only ever to manage while going downhill and being scared half to death. Total average speed was 10mph which isn't brilliant, but not awful considering we had to share with 15,000 other cyclists :)

So, the training has begun! We are going to do a test ride of the killer hill next week, as we are going to help check the timings for the organiser. We figure I'll be the slowest there, so I'm a good worst-case scenario from a planning perspective :)

We've got lots of other rides planned too. Thankfully Yorkshire isn't short of hills to practice on, but we now find ourselves looking at all sorts of scary rides including 100 milers. We can but dream :) For now, I'd love to top 25-30 in a single ride!

Hope whatever you all got up to this weekend, it was something fun!

Sewaholic Thurlow Shorts

Warning – in this post you’re going to see some reeeeeally unflattering pictures of me in a badly sewn pair of shorts. The most annoying part of this for me, other than having to look at pictures of myself is that they weren’t actually that badly sewn until right at the end. What is it that I’m doing to these Thurlows that causes me to cock them up right at the end?


This is about the least unflattering picture I could share. There are many far worse ones.

I did make a few small mods:

  • Increased the rise by 1″ as I felt they sat too low before. I did this at the lengthen/shorten line around the mid-hip. I now feel they’re pretty much perfect and I’m not at risk of displaying a builder’s bum should I bend or move in any way – this adjusted crotch depth
  • Added a bit more room to the inseam – 0.25″ to each of the 4 seams to increase the crotch depth and to try and stop some of the wrinkles I was getting due to my, er, ample thighs
  • Lengthened the pockets as per Lladybird’s mod on the Thurlow sewalong
  • Took in the centre back seam a bit more towards the top so it followed my hip-waist curve a bit better

I used leftovers from my stash to make these. The navy cotton, which creases like an evil thing is left over from my Minoru Jacket and the black and white gingham from Trev’s Negroni. This is the gingham that keeps on giving as it’s now made a men’s shirt, a pair of boxer shorts for Trev and now my shorts! Love it.

Generally I’m actually super pleased with these despite how they look on me. My welt pockets are better (the welts actually meet in the middle), I have usable pockets, that I can fit a phone in and everything, and the fit is much better – meaning that these shorts have accomplished their purpose as a fitting test.


So what am I not happy with? Something seems to go reeeeeally wrong when I sew up the centre back seam. Not sure yet if I can be bothered to unpick it all and redo it. I never actually plan to wear these out of the house so I’m not sure if it’s a problem. But look at those welts! Almost perfect.

Also, I had the same problem with running out of waistband that I had on the trousers I made. I’m not sure if the waistband is too small, but I was able to make it work a bit better this time and didn’t have to butcher my fly facing – which incidentally seems too big/wide. I don’t know. I hate not knowing enough about garment construction yet to know where the problem is or the best way to fix it.

Look odd to anyone else?

But yay! I remembered to do the buttonhole the right way round this time.

My welts are by no means perfect, but they are better:

I think my crotch seams match up pretty well?!?

My belt loops however, still suck.

For kicks I’ll share a terrible picture of the back with you, so you can get a feel for how much of a bodge I’ve made. Again.

So there’s weirdness above and below the pockets. Gotta work on that. Or wear a really long top.

But, at least now I’m confident to cut into the nice wool/poly suiting I bought to make some proper smart winter ones that fit me how I want.

I’ve got three other finished makes I’ve got to share and hopefully more, if I can get my mojo back and start something new this weekend.

Anyone else made any shorts? I’m seeing lots of lovely patterns on people’s blogs at the moment so I may have to get over my fear of getting my legs out and make some more!


Sewaholic Gabriola Take 2

Ooh this post is long overdue. For some reason I've been putting this one off for weeks despite having worn the finished object numerous times!

The last you saw of this project was a sneak peek of the newly installed invisible zip, done with my shiny new invisible zipper foot. LOVE.

Without further ado, here it is! (Oooh look I have a waist!)

My favourite thing about this second version is that I've managed to avoid most of the mistakes I made with the first one. Behold – no crazy crease at the middle of the centre yoke! It falls so beautifully.

This skirt was made partially to replace a denim skirt I had for years that's gotten a little too worn (and too snug) that had a nice flared shape – it was made of multiple curved panels that gave it a sort of fish-tail effect. It came with a strip of beads that hung from a belt loop on the side. I decided to steal the beads and add a mini belt loop to my finished skirt:

Oooh side panels!

This zip doesn't look too bad from the back! Although what is going on with the shape of my body for it to curve like this?!?

There's a bit of puckering going on with the closures, again. Grrrr. There wasn't quite enough overlap on the waistband for this to work well. Next time, I may length the waistband slightly to make sure there's enough room to add the hook and bar.

I was quite chuffed to see that my seams matched up even at the back by the zip:

Oooh get a close up of my dodgy topstitching on the waistband:

Inside the zip doesn't look too bad:

I french seamed almost all of the inside seams except for the centre front, centre back and the seam where you join the yoke to the skirt panels. I couldn't figure out a better way to do these, so I just zigzagged the edges:

TA-DAH all the insides! With bonus creases as I'd been wearing it :)

But note to self – when french seaming, don't take great big chunks out of your fabric when you're marking your notches. As this happens:

And preferably, trim your first seam before you sew the second – because then you get rogue bits of fabric poking through:

So much skirt! With added beads :)

The skirt is still a bit big in the waist. I'm not sure if it's how the waistband is designed, as it's not curved, or if I should have cut a size 12, but there's a good inch or so extra there that I'm not sure how to deal with.

I'm pretty pleased with how the hem turned out this time. The skirt pieces ended up finishing a much more of a uniform length, so chopping off the excess was much easier. I cut off about 3″ in total I think, before turning the hem by 3/8″ and then 3/8″ again and then stitching.

I decided to use my blind-stitching foot which has an adjustable guide for my edgestitching. I used it for all my topstitching on my Minoru jacket and decided to put it to use here. My machine did struggle a bit with the depth of the fabric I was trying to push through it when it had to go over the seams:

The hem over my centre back seam looks sooooo beautiful! If only all my seams looked like this!

And here it looks mashed again :(

Yay it's beautiful! This is where using the edgestitching foot works out really well:

I topstitched the waistband rather than try to invisibly stitch it. This fabric is a lot heavier than the linen I used for Gabriola #1 so I wanted to make sure it had enough support.

Here's my crappy belt loop! I have to learn how to do better belt loops. I've just done some more on another project and they look awful. Any belt loop tips?

Here's a close-up of the beads!

And finally, showing off some swish! The skirt is very swishy and swooshy – I also nearly tripped on the paving slabs and fell over while trying to twirl enough to get the camera to capture it :)

So there we have it! I've decided that there may be more skirts in my future. But I do need to give dresses a go. I feel very “put together” in a dress. You don't have to worry about matching top and bottom or tying an outfit together. But I don't wear dresses that much at the moment and I have several gaps in my wardrobe I need to fill. I had a bit of a clear out of old/poorly fitting items today and it's highlighted some of the separates I need to replace. The good news is, a couple of these I already have plans for :)

Final question – where do we stand on the beads? Yay or nay? I'm undecided myself but I forgot how easy it is to trap these beads in things. Car doors. Arms of seats on the bus or train… You'll be merrily walking along and then YANK! There's no better way to annoy your fellow commuters when you have to stop and untangle yourself.

I've finished another two projects this weekend I need to share. I had Friday off which was great for making headway on a few things. Tomorrow is a bank holiday but I'm at work as I've got a new starter on Tuesday and it'll be good to have a quiet day to catch up on things.

If you've got the day off tomorrow, I hope you enjoy it!