Charlie says “always tell your mummy before you go off somewhere”

OK, I am aware that today’s post is something of a blip – a hot weather garment when it’s currently hovering around freezing outside. We’ve just been on holiday, though, so it does make sense, really. Chris and I spent a week on Maui over Christmas and it was awesome. Chris hasn’t had any proper time off since we moved to the US so a week of relaxation in the sun was in order. We did some active stuff (ziplining, snuba diving, helicopter ride) but mostly there was a lot of pool and beach time. Someone brought you cocktails as whales breached off the coast. It was lovely.

I’m not usually one for sitting about for a week, so I don’t have a lot of beachwear. I hadn’t been all that bothered by the Charlie Caftan from Closet Case Patterns when it first came out, but it grew on me exponentially the closer we got to the departure date. If you want a measure of how useful it was, I’d say it was a third cotton, a third sunscreen and a third saltwater by the time we got home. I wore it practically every day.


That hat was a good buy too. Practically clamped to my head all week. 

And what better fabric for a beach cover up than this tropical cotton lawn? I originally bought three metres from the Village Haberdashery (looks like they still have some in) with the intention of making the Colette Penny dress, but never got round to it, what with all the other shirts and shirtdresses I was making this summer. It was fate, obviously. I fancied the idea of a maxi, but didn’t have quite enough fabric, so I went for View B (the short one with the gathered front) and added in the waist ties for good measure. I did grade out from a 10 at the waist to a 16 at the hips, but there’s so much space in there that I probably could get away with going for a straight 10 next time.


Now, this pattern looks simple, and for the most part that’s true, but it did have a tricky bit in the shape of the front panel. It’s an interesting construction – you complete the front bodice first by sewing up to the neckline, which creates a letterbox through which you have to sew the front panel. That’s a bit of a faff, but then you’ve got to face it/encase it on the other side with an inner panel. You can do it on your machine, but I – wonder of wonders – OPTED TO HANDSEW IT IN. It creates a neat finish, and it didn’t take me nearly as long as it usually does. I did struggle a bit with this part of the instructions (spatial awareness is not my strong point), but there is a tutorial on the Closet Case Patterns blog which explains it really clearly.

Front panel

The rest of it is pretty simple, though I would suggest that you finish the side seam and pocket allowances before you sew them together. I followed the instructions to the letter which has you finish them after sewing, which meant that I would have had a few sharp corners to negotiate with my overlocker. I ended up zigzagging them instead (not my preferred finishing method) so I’ll bear that in mind for next time.

Accidental shibori

Like every good sewist, I threw my finished caftan in the wash straight off the machine, along with a bunch of other things I needed to wash before going away. Unfortunately, there was a pair of brand new jeans in there too, and I discovered that they were not colour-fast. Oops. I normally don’t have a problem with this, but this time some of the colour transferred to my new caftan and there are a few blobs of shibori-type dying. Lucky for me it kinda works with the colour scheme and it isn’t all that noticeable. Anyway, let this be a cautionary tale for you all to buy colour catchers, or at least wash your new jeans separately!


Oops. That’s not the only bit, either. 

So as I’ve said, I wore this to death while I was away. I’m not sure when we’ll next be hitting the beach but I’m looking forward to warmer months when it may make an appearance on the roof of our building, which is a massive sun trap. Recommended for your next hot weather holiday!

And because it’s now stuck in my head, here’s some classic Prodigy from the early 90s.


My top five hits of 2017

Hi everyone! We’re two weeks away from a new year, so I’m emerging from my mince pie coma to review the old one, following Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow’s Top Five series. I might not have finished my sewing for this year just yet (I am panic sewing shorts for my trip to Hawaii next week. Did I mention I’m going to Hawaii? I can’t wait), but this year has been particularly busy for me, sewing-wise. I’ve made a grand total of 32 garments for myself, plus a giant quilt, and I’ve taken on projects that pushed my skills a little.

Looking back, this has definitely been the year of the tried n’ true (TNT) pattern for me. I fell in love with just about every pattern I tried and made multiple versions of them all. So let’s take a look at the five patterns I just couldn’t quit in 2017.

Deer and Doe Plantain top

This year I think I finally got over my fear of knits. Rather than faffing about with zigzag stitches on my sewing machine, I tried out sewing on my overlocker instead. And do you know what? It was pretty simple. I only made the Plantain for the first time a month or so ago, but it’s fast become a favourite, and I’ve made two more since (yet to be blogged). It’s a straightforward sew and I like the relaxed fit through the waist which makes it great with jeans – basically the basic t-shirt of my dreams.


Helen’s Closet Winslow culottes

Oh my Winslow culottes, how do I love thee? Seattle gets a reliable hot summer (more than hot enough for me, anyway), and I wanted something that would help me stay cool AND combat the dreaded chub rub. The Winslows in rayon were the perfect solution. Soft, flowy and a reasonably quick make. When you’re doing your best to stay out of the heat, minimal time at the iron is key. I wore my Winslows throughout the summer, and when I accidentally ruined my first pair, I made another straight away.


Closet Case Patterns Carolyn PJs

The Carolyns were another response to the heat. I only brought flannel pjs with me when we moved, so I needed something a bit lighter to sleep in. One day it occurred to me that my duvet cover would make a perfect classic pjs, so I hit Ikea up and got cracking on the summer version (with shorts and short-sleeved top). And they’re awesome. So light and comfortable! Turns out that a queen-sized duvet is a bountiful source of fabric, so I made the long pants for autumn/winter and some PJs for Chris with the excess. I also had a go at inserting piping for the first time and now I want to put it on everything.


Sew Over It Penny dress

When Sew Over It released the Penny dress back in June it was love at first sight. I was having a major shirt/shirtdress phase, and the Penny scratched an itch for a smart summer dress with buttons and a collar. I made a couple of versions in rayon and despite a tantrum over a wonky hem, I love them to death. Whenever I wear my Pennys, I spend most of my time twirling about in them.


Sew Over It Alex shirt/shirt dress

When I say I had a shirtdress moment this year, maybe I should expand it to include anything with a  button. I made so many shirts and shirtdresses in 2017 it’s ridiculous, but I think the Alex shirt was my first make of the year. I made it in a bit of a panic in time for my hen do (which happened after I got married, but that’s another story), and this version in black rayon has been my go-to casual going out top ever since. It’s so cute! It’s got enough space in it that I can easily get it on over my head without buttons, and I love the relaxed look – it looks good tucked or untucked. I’ve since made the shirt dress version in a chambray, another shirt in blue silk and I have another on my sewing table right now.


We got a better camera in May, so my photos suddenly got marginally better. 



Clearly you’re not a golfer.

Last weekend Chris and I went to see the Big Lebowski at Seattle Outdoor Cinema. I like to think I have a few things in common with the Dude. I think a rug can tie a room together. I like cocktails, but I prefer a margarita to a white Russian. I also like spending most of my time in my pyjamas. And to be honest, a lot of my pjs are so old (erm… well-loved) that they’re beginning to look like the Dude’s. I don’t leave the house in them (I do have standards) but it’s time to put a bit more elegance into my lie-ins and lounging.


Goals. Source.

I picked up the Carolyn pyjamas by Closet Case Patterns a few weeks ago, attracted by the details – I’ve never done a notched collar, nor have I inserted piping before. It’s been pretty warm here over the last few weeks and sleeping in full length pjs is a bit uncomfortable so Version C with its shorts and short-sleeved top was the perfect option.


As luck would have it, the perfect fabric was sitting under my nose. One day, as I was enjoying a particularly long lie-in, it hit me – my Ikea duvet cover (the Nypronos – available in blue or grey) would make awesome pjs. Now, I wasn’t about to cut my duvet cover up just to scratch that particular itch. I took my scissors to a new set instead, figuring that I’d be able to get at least a pair of pjs each for me and Chris out of it, and then keep the pillowcases for their original purpose. I wasn’t wrong – so far I’ve only made the Carolyns out of it, but with around four metres of extra wide fabric to play with I think I can squeeze out a pair of full-length pj trousers for me as well. Not bad for $30, AND I reused the buttons!


I tried “come to bed” eyes but failed.

This was my first time using Closet Case Patterns and I was largely pleased with the experience. The pattern is well drafted, and almost everything came together easily. I appreciated the extra instructions about using piping and was so pleased with my first efforts that I immediately posted a pic on Instagram. The novelty didn’t wear off either – Chris probably got sick of me waxing lyrical about piping and how professional and neat it looks. That aside, I would have liked a bit more hand-holding on the notched collar, but Heather had included a detailed post on her website. I followed that and everything turned out peachily.


I made the shirt first and really took my time over it. I feel like it’s paid off, too. I’ve managed to pattern match, which doesn’t always happen on my makes. It’s a shame that the under collar isn’t the top collar, because the pattern matching on that is a thing of beauty. Part of the reason I’m so pleased with it all is the fabric. It is basically chambray, so sewing and pressing it was a dream (which is weird cos usually I hate ironing duvet covers). As a result it’s turned out really crisp, and once finished I was convinced I could wear it out in the real world. Chris then pointed out that I looked like a nurse, so that dream was crushed.

I left the shorts till last, mainly because I wasn’t sure about my pattern grading. To accommodate my child-bearing hips, I graded from a 10 to a 16 from the pocket notch. As they’re quite short shorts (i.e. the shortest shorts you will ever see me wearing), there isn’t a great deal of space to grade between sizes. This means that the cuffs don’t quite fit properly and stick out a little bit, but not enough to put me off wearing them. Next time I’ll take a proper look at the pattern and adjust accordingly but right now I’m just glad they fit round my legs!


Mike Rotch! Mike Rotch! Has anyone seen Mike Rotch! Seriously though, there’s a faux-fly in there if you look carefully.

So in short, I’m pretty enamoured with these pjs and I can see myself spending a LOT of time in them over the next few months. They are super comfortable and perfect for lounging about the house on lazy weekend mornings. When winter comes round I can see myself making more so I can gradually replace my tatty pyjamas with something a bit more put together. I hope the Dude would abide.


Attempting to pattern match my bedding.

On the cutting table: June

So I spent most of yesterday glued to the UK election coverage. There were snacks and Dimbleby. It was awesome. While I’m worried about what the Tory/DUP coalition will bring, how long it will last and what effect that will have on Brexit, I’m suddenly more optimistic for Labour. Fingers crossed they can continue to put aside their differences and form the effective and coherent opposition that’s been MIA for too long. I hope my optimism lasts…

Anyway, let’s put the hot takes to one side and talk about sewing instead! The weather is definitely on the turn here in Seattle. The rain finally seems to be abating and it seems like summer might just be on the way. And of course, I have not prepped for this at all! This months plans are basically panic represented through the medium of sewing.

Despite not finishing my quilt last month (I didn’t want to swathe myself in a duvet in the summer, sorry not sorry), I did manage to make four things in May, so I’m sticking to the four items rule:

  • One day I looked at my duvet cover and decided that it would look awesome as a pair of pyjamas. As you do. So I bought another and the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn pj pattern and decided that would be a good idea. As all I have are winter pjs, these will be short in the leg and the sleeve and if Chris is lucky he may get a pair too (obvs done in a man’s pattern).
  • Running tights. I’ve recently taken up running again and I have a problem with tights. If I choose a size to fit my waist, the leg seams cut into my legs causing unsightly bulges. If I choose a size to fit my legs, they’re too big round the waist and end up falling down as I run, which is a bad look. I’m going to try the Seamwork Aries leggings, with the intention of grading to fit my weird body.
Aries leggings

Source. I wish I was this bendy.

  • I love the new Penny dress from Sew Over It (available via their PDF Club at the moment, but launching IRL later this month I think). Of course I would. It’s by Sew Over It and it’s a shirt dress. I’ve ordered some lovely rayon from Hart’s Fabric that I can’t wait to sew up, cos it will be super cool and lightweight. Bring it on.
  • Sub point. The Penny dress looks suspiciously similar to the current SOI sewalong in Simply Sewing in the UK. If you’ve already bought the magazine you could probably hack it into a Penny by shortening the skirt and lopping off the sleeves. Just sayin’.

What are you making this month?