My first experiment with jersey: Vogue – V8792


I probably should have given this a quick press before I took the photos

I wear A LOT of jersey. It makes up the bulk of my tops. However I’ve always been too frightened to have a go at sewing with it. I’ve been convinced that it would be super hard and end up looking rubbish. I had my mind changed when  I was staying with my lovely friend Dani who was telling me how easy it was and showing me some of the awesome things she’d made. She was so keen for me to give it a go she gave me her pattern!

yellow top

I made option B

When I got back to London I dashed over to trusty old Dalston Mill for some fabric. I found the most amazing bright yellowy green. I’m normally quite boring with my colour selection (grey, brown, cream….) but for some reason I was really drawn to this one. I think it might be because I’d been looking at the Grainline Hemlock Tee just before I left the house. To go with the yellow I went for grey, I really love grey…

As I was just borrowing the pattern it would have been rude to amend it for myself so I traced it off instead. This turned out to be easier said than done. I’ve always used good old fashioned greaseproof paper for tracing patterns in the past. However, since baking has got all popular all the products have got fancier…..and the fancy new greaseproof paper will not stick to sellotape no matter how hard you try! I spent rather a lot of time trying to stick bits back together and work out where everything was supposed to go….


The fancy new greaseproof paper is also a totally different colour.

If I’m totally honest my cutting out for this pattern was a little slap dash.  We don’t have a table big enough to cut things out on (well we sort of do but it’s covered in stuff) so I had to cut the pattern out on the floor. My crappy arthritic knees don’t like it when I’m crawling about on the wooden floor so I ended up hurrying a bit to get it over with. Maybe I need some sort of a kneeler (or to actually clear the table)!

The fabric was lovely to work with and super soft. It was pretty easy to sew with (once I found the stretch stitch on my machine). I had to keep a pretty close eye on the stitches because somewhere between the machine and the fabric there was a tendency to get all knotted up and leave a huge hole.

I really like the effect of the two colours. Although I got super confused about what should go where when I was sewing together. I spent quite a long time pinning various bits to other bits to try and work out what to do. Vogue could really do with some clearer pictures in their patterns!



Here’s the back

Because I am lazy I decided to see what would happen if I used bias binding for the neck rather than doing it out of jersey. I do love bias binding and I thought the colour looked good with the grey and the yellow. As you can see from the pictures it didn’t quite work out….. It’s one of those things that it totally obvious really; a stretchy fabric + a non stretchy binding = one stretched out neckline…. I decided that this is going to be a design feature and I’ll just wear it off my shoulders. I’m going to pretend I did it on purpose!

I really like this top. It’s a bit long (I couldn’t work out how the bits would fit together so I couldn’t shorten it) but that makes it a very good top for yoga and the brightness makes it even better for cycling to yoga. I think I’ll make another one probably shorter and wider but first I’m going to make a Grainline Hemlock Tee out of my leftover jersey (fingers crossed I have enough). I love a free pattern!


Sorbetto v.2

my new Sorbetto (and my slightly skanky looking kitchen door)

I liked my first Sorbetto so much that I decided to make another one. I adapted the pattern a little bit to make it a bit longer (I think I added 2 inches) as the last one was a little shorter than I wanted. I really enjoyed sewing it as it’s really easy, super quick, and I rather enjoy putting on a bit of bias binding.

Once I’d finished the hem and given it a press I was very excited to try it. However when I did I was somewhat underwhelmed. I like the pattern of the fabric but I’m not sure that I like it as a top. I think it might be better as a cushion. I used the scraps to make another cover for my home made draft excluder and it looked really nice (I’d put up a picture of that up but the bunnies got to it and tore some little holes in it before I could take a picture- they are very naughty).

I also think it’s a little bit too big. It’s the same pattern I used for the last top so I’m not quite sure how it could be bigger. It might be the fabric, although I’m not sure how that would work. Or maybe it’s the extra length…..

I’m going to put it in the wardrobe and see if it grows on me in a few weeks.


My Sorbetto

You can just about make out the top in the gloom....

Now that my sewing machine is working again I wanted to make a new top. I had some lilac and white stripped fabric hanging around so I thought I’d have a go at Sorbetto.

I’d never done darts or worked with bias binding before so I thought it would be good practise. I thought that it would be really hard and take ages but actually it was fairly easy and only took a couple of hours. I think cutting out the bits of the pattern and sticking them together was the most time consuming part.

I didn’t check the size of the pattern as I was printing so it turned out a little bit smaller than it should have done. It would have been a bit tricky to check the measurements on the test square while trying to print it out at work on the sly. It’s come out okay for size. I didn’t quite have enough fabric for a hem so I used bias binding instead. I quite like the finished hem so I think I might do that for hems in the future.

I’m really pleased with the finished top. You can’t see very well from the photo above as it was quite dark and a bit cold so I forgot to take my cardy off for the picture. I wore the top to work and think it counts as a success as no-one asked me if I’d made it (I always take that as a hint that it looks a bit rough around the edges).

I like it so much that I’m planning to make another one. There’s a pattern on-line for little sleeves which I’d like to try. I’m quite excited about it!

Not sure why I didn't move the bag off my wardrobe before I took this picture....

My new yoga mat bag and why it’s always a good idea to use a pattern when sewing

If I was being generous I would call myself a beginner sewer. So far I have made two yoga mat bags, a cushion cover and two tops. Sewing is a skill I’ve wanted to acquire for years as my Mum and several of my friends are excellent sewers and I would love to be able to replicate the kind of bespoke dresses, trousers and tops I see them skipping about in. I started my mission to become a proficient sewer about a year and a half ago. I asked around to see if anyone in the  family had a machine they didn’t need and found out that my Nana had an old Singer she’d bought in the 70s and barely used. As she was sorting out a lot of her belongings before she moved into sheltered accommodation she was happy to let me take it. I also took a sewing course where I learnt the basics and badgered various people for tips.

After a productive start progress stalled for various reasons. However now that the winter is drawing near, and the sunshine won’t be around to tempt me outside, I’m determined to get started again. Last weekend I dug around in my fairly modest fabric stash and found some fabric for a new yoga mat bag. I thought that a mat bag would be a good start as I’ve made one before and I figured I could do it without a pattern. My old bag had a drawstring at the top and then a separate shoulder strap. The plan for the new bag was to have one strap going through the drawstring and acting as the shoulder strap. I though it would be a fast sew and so less likely to join the half finished dress that taunts me from my sewing box.

I made a good start, cut out the fabric and impressed myself by remembering to press my drawstring fold properly.  I found some lovely thread, threaded up the machine and was about to make a start. While I was feeling very keen the sewing machine was in no mood to do anything. It’s always been temperamental but it had suddenly decided to become down right unusable. About half an hour later when miles of thread had been chewed up and I’d picked out various knots I finally admitted defeat.

Luckily for me a friend near by has a lovely sewing machine and she was kind enough to let me nip round to her house and use it. She even threw in dinner and a glass of wine. I promised that I would be done in no time and that I literally just had to whizz along the seams and press and I’d be done. However, my lack of proper planning became apparent as soon as I dug my strap out of my bag and showed it to her. I’d found a lovely strip of fabric in just the right colour. I knew that it was not meant for bag straps but I hadn’t realised that it was bias binding and so stretchy and rather unsuitable. As I didn’t have an alternative I just sewed up the edges and made the best of it very much hoping not to wear it around bemused sewers who might wonder why I was walking about with a strap of bias binding through my drawstring.

The next problem with my lack of proper pattern use came when I turned the bag back to the right way around after stitching the seams. I’d sewing the fold for the drawstring on the inside, folding it in rather than over, making it very difficult to pull the drawstring through to the outside without the seams poking out and lots of fabric getting in the way………. A little bit of panic, some scissors and hand sewing later the problem was fixed and I was able to sew the strapping to the bottom of my bag. By this point it was about 10:30 and my quick bit of stitching had taken rather longer than anticipated!

When I got home I realised that the bias binding really didn’t look right as it was and I should have taken my friend’s advice and sewn it in half. It began to annoy me a lot so I decided just to be done with it and hand stitch it down. It’s a long strap so it took me forever. Luckily I rather like hand stitching so it wasn’t as bad as it should have been.

I’m really pleased with the finished bag and it has made me even more keen to get sewing. I’ve finally taken the plunge and found myself a sewing machine shop and taken my machine to be fixed. I should have it back in a couple of weeks and I’m very excited about it!