Foreman, for my man

I’ve started the year with an uncharacteristically selfless sew. Well, sort of, since I promised this to Josh before Christmas and it’s only just finished…

Josh had been after a navy twill workman style jacket for ages and couldn’t quite find what he was after in the shops. I showed him the Merchant and Mills Foreman pattern which fitted the bill pretty closely, though I had to make a few adjustments to get it completely on brief.


After making a toile (an essential step in this case) we made a few resulting alterations for fit and preference. I added a little width to the shoulder, took a chunk of ease out of the sleeve cap, and raised up the bottom of the armsyce a little. This was a bit fiddly with the two piece sleeve but I’m super pleased with the resultant hang and range of motion in the arm. We nipped in the waist a touch to make it less boxy and rounded off the collar/straightened the centre front curve too.


I was really happy with the pattern overall (which I bought locally from Ray Stitch); the instructions are particularly great with nice clear diagrams and the drafting is solid. Definitely recommended if you have a man to sew for, and it’s reminded me to re-check out the patterns in their book which I own. It was a very enjoyable sew, quite simple and speedy as outerwear goes even with the alterations and being extra careful with my topstitching and finishing as it was for someone else (I’m much more slapdash when it’s for me, anyone else the same?!).

One big difference from the pattern is that Josh requested a warmer coat, which meant adding a lining. The Foreman pattern is unlined but has straightforward construction and nice deep facings so it was quite easy to draft lining pieces from the existing pattern by subtracting the facings from the front and back pieces, then adding seam allowances. I did a standard machine bagging, turning through a hole left in the sleeve lining.

All the fabrics came from MyFabrics or Stoff and Stil: cotton twill for the outer, faux sheepskin for the body lining and quilted acetate for the sleeve lining. Luckily I’d recently had experience dealing with fluffy faux fur on my own coat so I found it quite easy to use it for the lining. It’s on quite a substantial velour backing so gives the coat plenty of warmth and a bit of nice structure too.


Josh loves the finished coat and was very appreciative. It’s become his everyday coat and has already had a couple of weeks road-testing, so it’s starting to look nice and lived-in. He’s particularly fond of the deep pockets, perfect for stashing his Kindle, wallet and/or booze. He’s been a truly super boyfriend lately so it was nice to do a little thing for him in return. In fact I don’t really need many new clothes for myself at the moment so I’ve offered to make him a couple of shirts and tees, and he’s requested some chinos – so watch this space for more man-sewing.

M7445 the second and third

I just made my third pair of McCall 7445 pants, so thought I’d bundle in pair 2 that never got blogged because I love em a lot and it might be interesting to see versions in quite different fabrics. Here’s pair one in needlecord, by the way still much loved and worn.

McCall 7445 is such a great pattern! It’s a Melissa Palmer design and includes extra large seam allowances, a sheet of fitting tips, and a construction that lets you check and tune the fit as you go. Even though I’ve made it three times I still baste and try on as I go because different fabrics can fit differently. I’ve also gained a little weight recently (thanks, Christmas) so perhaps made use of that extra allowance in this pair.

For pair 3 I used a stretch denim that I got as part of my December ambassador allowance from The Fabric Store. This is a fab quality medium weight denim with a slightly nubbly texture and a little comfy stretch. I added one inch to the length on this pair so they’re just ankle-skimming and more appropriate for winter when worn with fun socks and sneakers.


I went a bit rogue with this and the pair below and made a closed front with a centre-back invisible zip to fasten. The pattern views include an exposed front zip or faux-fly front but I like the completely flat front – super comfortable and zero digging in of anything. One tip I’d say if you make view B is to stabilise that waist edge when you sew on the facing. There’s no waistband to keep things snug, which makes for a very comfortable fit but leaves it more susceptible to stretching out. I simply slip some cotton twill tape into the seam as I’m sewing the facing onto the waistline.


This is the second pair, which are one of my favourite things I made last year. They use a mystery fabric that I got as a remnant from Misan Textiles on Berwick Street. Misan is pretty pricey but you can get some great deals on the pre-cut lengths in the basement! It’s difficult to describe; it’s like a very heavy crepe with a slightly spongy sort of feel like a scuba, and a tiny bit of stretch. It doesn’t crease in the slightest and they feel wonderfully luxurious to wear, especially in the cold. And the colour is brilliant! I guess I should give this pattern a rest for a bit now as my trouser drawer literally overfloweth, but it’s certainly earned its TNT status.

Chevron Sloane

Finally in my house in daylight hours again to take some photos! I have been sewing away at some some fairly relaxing and fast-gratification projects in December, and I’m extra pleased with this one because it used entirely scraps from other projects.

The pattern is the Named Sloan sweatshirt. I’ve been looking for a basic set-in sleeve sweatshirt pattern for ages and completely forgot Named had this one until I saw Catherine post one on Instagram.

To use up my awkward sized scraps I cut both the front and back into two pieces, creating a chevron shaped V on both. On the front piece I thought I’d be clever and rotate the French dart into the seamline… but then managed to cut two of the lower back piece instead of a front and didn’t have enough to re-cut. It still fitted in place fine but it think it’s causing the slight diagonal drag marks from bust to hem. Otherwise no alterations and like all Named patterns I’m delighted with the drafting and fit.

Can you identify the three previous projects that donated their leftovers? The cuffs and hem came from my Joni track pants, the grey is the other side of the Fabric Store sweatshirting I made a Sunny out of, and the fuzzy black is from my coat. I’m really pleased to have these scraps out of my sewing room and into such a cosy and wearable garment. (p.s. worn here with my Landers, firm favourite pants!)

Space Kyoto

I feel like I’ve been having a bit more fun with sewing lately. Case in point, this sweater with all the shiny and ruffles thrown at it!

The first part of this project came about when i meet up with the lovely Jess on her recent trip to the UK, and dutifully took her to my wonderful local fabric store, Ray Stitch. Jess got some excellent sweatshirt knit and striped denim and since I can never leave there empty handed I picked up a few of these sparkly space embellishments for £1.50 each. (Some are in their online store, but not the stars.)

[Image sources on my Pinterest]

I’ve been a bit obsessed with space print stuff for quite a while now and have quite the little collection of moon’n’star-festooned clothing, along with quite a large wish/inspiration list. Some of it can run quite pricey so it’s the ideal candidate for ‘DIY instead of buy’.

Luckily I’d just made my pick of fabrics for my December Fabric Store ambassador allowance, amongst which was a black merino-mix sweatshirting that was calling out to be bedecked with shiny things. I’d call this fabric a French terry more than true sweatshirting; it has a smooth front side and loopy back and isn’t too thick, so it was a great candidate both for these iron-ons and for my choice of pattern, the Papercut Kyoto sweater.

I made the Kyoto up as before, with an inch or so of length taken out of both the body and sleeves. This time I added the fun ruffles to the sleeves, which worked really nicely in this medium weight knit. I simply overlocked the raw edge of the ruffles rather than hemming to keep them airy and drapey.

I ironed the embellishments on right at the start, after cutting but before construction. I placed them on the front of the sweater fairly randomly, used a bit of washi tape to stick them down then pressed a hot iron over the back of each patch for ten seconds. They feel very well stuck down and hopefully they will launder ok.

I’ve been gently encouraging myself to get more into sewing in the evenings again, and this was a perfect post-work fun and relaxing sort of sew, which was done in under two hours. I’m thrilled with how this sweater turned out. It’s a little bit novelty and silly but also highly wearable and of course perfect for this festive time of year.

Fabric provided by The Fabric Store as part of their ambassador program.

Fur Yona

Another coat project for a snowy day! This was a real impulse sew and perhaps a bit trend-led, but I really wanted a fluffy coat to call my own after seeing them on some of my friends and general cool girls around London and Instagram. Plus my Freemantle is a bit statement-y so I wanted a plainer and shorter coat for some variation.

I was tempted to buy a new pattern – the Oslo, Marcelle and Silvia were all contenders – but decided to rad my stash instead and reuse the Named Yona pattern which I made two winters ago. I do still really like that first Yona but the more tailored-looking finish doesn’t seem to be so much my style any more. Luckily it’s a real chameleon sort of pattern depending on fabric type so you wouldn’t really even think they were the same base pattern.


I used a faux-sherpa fur fabric from Minerva which is sold out in black but still available in some other shades. The wide lapels are perfect for a few of my favourite pins, which help it read more indiekid than P Diddy, ha ha.

The lining is a simple plain black viscose also from Minerva. Practice really does make perfect and this is my nicest bagged lining insertion yet.

The fur fabric is, as accurately described, quite stretchy and drapey so after consulting Instagram I decided to block-fuse it before cutting for my coat. If you haven’t come across the term before, block-fusing is where you iron interfacing onto your entire yardage before cutting out the pieces. I used a high quality knit interfacing from English Couture. The ironing process was tiresome as hell and took ages, but definitely gave the fabric a much more appropriate heft and handle will still retaining its softness. The coat feels really secure and like it will hold its shape for a good time so it was worth the effort.

A few other tips I found worked well for this fluffbomb fabric:

  • I made sure to line everything up in the same direction, with the nap running downwards, as the fabric has a slight directional pile.
  • I found the easiest cutting technique was to fold my fabric with the wrong side facing out, pin the paper pieces in place then cut with my rotary.
  • After cutting I shook each piece to remove most of the loose fluff then vacuumed it all up before I started sewing. I was advised on Instagram that a spin in the dryer removes all the excess effectively, but I didn’t try this.
  • I used pins instead of snipping notches as they would have got totally lost in the pile.
  • After sewing seams I trimmed them down and pressed open first from the wrong side (with a cloth to protect the interfacing) then gave a shot of steam from the right side and pressed a clapper over it. I don’t have a proper clapper, but my sleeve board works weirdly well for this purpose! Then I fluffed the pile back up and brushed it over the seam.
  • I used a walking foot to deal with the bulk and prevent the layers shifting, and used wonder clips instead of pins.
  • As my fabric maintained a slight stretch, I selected a zigzag stitch to prevent seams from potentially popping.

Luckily having sewn the Yona pattern before, as well as another coat recently, the sewing itself went really fast. The entire project was finished in one day, which might sound a bit mad but the Yona is actually a rather simple coat overall with no fastenings, easy-to-set raglan sleeves and patch pockets, and really good instructions for bagging out the lining, so I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a first or speedy outerwear project.

I adore how this coat turned out! I only wish I had firstly made the pockets a bit bigger so I can dig my hands properly into them (my Freemantle has huge pockets and I basically use them as a glove substitute) and retrospectively I might have thought about extending out the centre front into a little overlap so I could add a snap fastening or two. Nonetheless it’s extremely cosy and warm, so I look forward to rotating both coats throughout this winter.

TNT, or not TNT…

This is my second outfit using my ambassador fabric allowance from The Fabric Store, and it ties rather nicely into this month’s Sewcialists theme of TNTs, or ‘Tried and True’ – the patterns you love and reach for over and over again.

I’m a big TNT fan: once the fit is right and you’ve vouched for a pattern fitting into your wardrobe and lifestyle, why not make it again and again?! I even used to buy RTW clothing I liked in several colours so it’s sort of the same practice at work. Plus of course it’s always easier to sew a garment once you’ve made it once or twice, and you can have fun applying your own little hacks and tweaks to get it perfect.

One of these patterns is a TNT and one isn’t, and guess which was was the most fun to sew and will get more wear…?

Yep the trousers are another pair of Named Ninni Culottes. I wear my first pair in navy aaaaalll the time so really wanted a black pair to match my winter boots! (I’m really glad they pair rather well with boots, meaning I can still wear them in this fairly mild autumn weather).

These are actually a very true TNT because I used basically the exact same fabric too: a crinkle rayon from The Fabric Store. My navy ones have held up beautifully and while they go oddly crispy when the fabric is washed and wet, they straighten out again beautifully with a quick iron. I think this black fabric is slightly thicker and more structured, which makes it easier to work with and a little more suited to cooler weather. I love how smart black projects look inside with matching overlocking, and I used my yoke pocket pattern hack to make more practical pockets. Other than these I’ve made two more pairs of Ninnis, in bubblegum pink and in stripes, so it’s definitely a TNT that’s here to stay for me. The fact it takes like an hour to sew is a bonus!

The tee is the non-TNT, although it’s a pattern I’ve had for ages but hadn’t used yet: the Grainline Linden sweatshirt. I just wanted to try a raglan as opposed to my usual (and very much TNT) Plantain tee. I cut view B with the elbow-length sleeves and slightly dipped hem and eugh, it just didn’t work for me at all! The sleeves looked really dumpy and the fit around the top was poor, plus the neckline gaped like crazy. It seems like Grainline’s block fits like magic on some people and not on others, and I definitely fall into the latter camp. I’m afraid I threw the PDF straight into the recycling as I don’t think I can be bothered working on the fit to make it work for me.

In the end I cut the sleeves right down and finished them and the neckline with some proper ribbing (left over from my Joni pants): the fit is still not perfect but at least this is very wearable now and I didn’t waste the lovely fabric, which is The Fabric Store’s lightweight merino in skinny black/slate stripe. This fabric was again beautiful to work with and didn’t even complain too much about the hacking and altering I had to do to get this tee to fit. The merino should provide a cosy base layer for the cold, too.

I love the colours in this outfit and The Fabric Store’s luxurious-feeling fabrics means it’s really comfortable, and I know it will stand up to repeated wears and washes. I plan to make more TNTs this month for sure, and while I don’t often share repeated patterns on the blog I may make an exception to celebrate this month’s great Sewcialists theme.