Category Archives: Finished items 2018

A Coat in Hainsworth wool & Liberty twill

I think this coat combines two of the most luxurious fabrics I’ve ever used. It’s a shame that I’m a little disappointed with the final result :(

First of all, those fabrics, which are absolutely not the source of my ire. The main fabric came from AW Hainsworth, a Yorkshire-based woollen mill based with a Royal Warrant who produce premium cloths used for fashion, costumes, uniforms and military dress. Their apparel and upholstery fabric sub-brand Hainsworth challenged me to make something with one of their fabrics to help raise their profile amongst designers and costumers. (They don’t currently sell direct to consumers online, but will provide prices if you email them via the website.)

I received 2m of the Melton Doe Skin in the shade Fig, a tightly twill-woven 100% merino wool. A description from Hainsworth’s site: “The term ‘doeskin’ originated from the similar appearance and feel of the fabric to the skin of a female deer. Along with the practical purpose for allowing rain to run off the surface in the direction of the nap, the light is captured on the face finish and bounces off the surface to create a lustrous sheen.” So there you go, pretty and practical. As with all wools it was joyful to sew with, cutting easily and moulding willingly with steam and pressing.

I used the Avid Seamstress Coat pattern. I’d been umming and ahhing over making this midi-length partially-lined coat for spring for a while, then a combination of seeing Charlie’s (in a very similar shade to mine) and trying on a sample in Ray Stitch persuaded me to buy it. Manju coincidentally also just used the same pattern for her Hainsworth collaboration project.

Now here’s the issue, which Manju seemed to share: I was disappointed by the pattern and it was not a particularly fun sewing experience. She lists some of the issues I found; namely:

  • too little guidance on finishing seams – on an unlined coat! Not cool.
  • changing seam allowances so you have to constantly pay attention; in the case of the collar it changed over the course of one seam.
  • instructions too chatty/rambling in tone for my taste and photographed steps that are not always that clear to understand
  • confusion around the vent finishing; I ended up doing mine differently as it looked bulky and rubbish with the bound edges
  • to my mind, a poor design decision to have front-facing in-seam pockets that are always going to flap around and look messy. Manju switched to patch pockets, and I wish I had had too. There’s also nothing holding the facing in place inside so it tends to bend outwards.

Regarding the finishing, this wool does not fray in the slightest but I’m not the biggest fan of completely raw seams, so I made the somewhat stupid and self-sacrificial decision to bind them all using my lining fabric, a delicious Liberty silk twill in the ‘Minako’ print sent to me by The Fabric Store. Luckily this silk is incredibly well-behaved but still, that’s a lot of binding to cut and stitch and it felt like a real slog. While it looks quite nice it’s not my neatest work in places as I was losing steam. It would have been much more straightforward and neater to line the whole thing!

Like Manju I decided to line the sleeves in my silk as well, to make them more slippery to get on and off. This was pretty simple: I just used the sleeve pieces less an inch or two for folded-back hem allowance. They’re sewn bagging-style to the cuff and attached to the half-lining around the armsyce. Fit-wise I sewed a straight 10 as that was the size of the one I tried on in Ray Stitch and the fit seemed good. I do question why the armsyce has a pretty pronounced curve at the head when the shoulder is very dropped and non-fitted: it seems to produce a bump and puckers at that seam that I had to coax smooth with a lot of steam.

Time will tell if I end up wearing this coat. I think we need a little time out after the sewing experience, however it’d be a shame to not make the most of all that time and the beautiful fabrics. It’s a useful weight for this time of year as well and quite an easy throw-on sort of style, so I hope we make friends again. Thanks again to Hainsworth and The Fabric Store for supplying fabrics.

Persephone pants

It’s not often I buy new patterns nowadays, but I fell hard for the Persephone Pants pattern as soon as Sophie posted them on Instagram. I snapped it up despite a general unwillingness to both buy from ‘untested’ indie designers and to buy a pattern I could hack fairly easily from existing ones, and ended up pretty glad I did.


Mostly I was curious: how on earth can you fit pants with no side seam, especially on a shape like mine where my waist-to-hip measurement spans four sizes on the size chart? I asked the designer Anna on Instagram and she recommended to cut the size to fit my hip – a 14 in my case – then use the back darts to bring in the waist. Plus an extra dart can be added where the side seam would be if needed.

When I basted up the pants I found that pinching an extra inch-and-a-bit out of each dart gave me a fairly snug fit at the waist without distorting the lines too much. Also, as I sewed on the waistband I eased it in pretty tightly to give a bit more hold and cut off the excess at the end. My final waistband length ended up at the size 8 finished measurement which is in line with my waist size, and overall the fit is pretty nice and super comfortable. Nifty!


I used The Fabric Store’s heavyweight linen in Toffee, the same fabric I used in pink for my jeans. A sturdier fabric such as canvas or rigid denim is recommended, and I think that might help with the slight issue I have of the button fly front wanting to pull apart a bit. This is one of those colours that I’m always drawn to – in this case heavily inspired by this picture – while always forgetting it’s not really in my preferred colour sphere for wearing. We’ll see if I end up reaching for them often, but navy or dark green would probably have been a more sensible choice.



Making them was seriously fun and I was incredibly impressed with the pattern. I love making trousers anyway but these have all sorts of little details to make things interesting and satisfying. The instructions are among the best I’ve used for ages and you’re thoroughly guided through seam finishes and topstitching etc to get a really clean and detailed result. The designer Anna Allen was apparently working on this pattern for a year, and it shows! It’s very professional and I didn’t once feel my usual urge to deviate and use different techniques.

The inevitable question is how do these compare to the other high-waist wide-leg pants patterns out there, for example the Landers or M7445 to name two I’ve sewn up before? I think the Persephones are definitely unique enough to have a seat at the table, the main design and fit differences being:

– These are truly high waisted! I have quite a high natural waist so the Landers and M6445 don’t come to my belly button, but these cover it.
– No side seam; the legs are one big wraparound piece. Pretty kool.
– A concealed button fly which is very fun (and easy!) to sew.
– You can’t really tell from the samples or line drawings, but they have super cute little pockets tucked into the waistline at the front.
– Of all three patterns, they’re the snuggest at the hip/thigh area (I upsized to be sure they’d fit but I think they should fit a little tighter) but I think the widest at the hem circumference.
– They have been compared to the cultish Jesse Kamm sailor pants which seems fair, as even the topstitching on the waistband and crotch is the same. But y’know, not $400.

If I was to make them again I think I’d size down to a 12 hip / 6 waist as these have grown a little already (and I’m trying to lose a few spare winter pounds) and I prefer my high waisted pants a little snug. I’d also use a studier fabric as recommended and take an inch or so off the hems. I just bought some cream needlecord which is a toss-up between becoming these or a second pair of Landers.

Shout-out to my new Clarks shoes btw, which I already bought in two colours and am trying to resist the third…

Sewing with Knitted Fabrics: Derwent and Peak

Today I’m the final stop on the blog tour of sewing designer and teacher Wendy Ward‘s latest book, ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics’. Because I’m an overachiever I’ve made a whole, albeit very simple, outfit from the book, comprising the Derwent trouser and Peak t-shirt patterns.

Wendy’s book is a pretty comprehensive primer on all you need to know to sew with knits. Even if you have some experience I’m sure you’d pick up some new tips or find it handy as a reference volume, or simply make use of the six included patterns which include a tank, tee, a skirt, two pairs of trousers and a cardigan along with numerous ‘hacks’ to make more variations.


The patterns are printed onto sheets at the back of the book. They need to be traced and sometimes pieced together. Colour coding and good clear labels made the process really fast, even for this usual tracing-phobe: like well under half an hour to do these two patterns. I outlined my size in black marker to make it even easier to see what I’m doing.

The Derwent trousers which I sewed up first are a cropped flared trouser designed for ponte type knits, with the waist finished with an elastic facing. I used a wool-mix Ponte Roma which was kindly supplied by Minerva Crafts. It’s a lovely weighty cloth with a firm widthwise stretch and an almost felt-like feel.


I appreciated the detailed finished garment measurements breakdown and the way the key body measurement is given to pick your size from – hip in this case. I found them true to size and the fit great, albeit perhaps a little unflattering on my currently rather inflated tummy. I took two inches off the standard length leg to get this ankle-crop length.


I followed the sewing instruction in the book and had no issues at all. They sewed up crazy fast, being only two pattern pieces and just five seams. I especially like the waistline, faced with wide elastic and folded back on itself for a clean and firm finish. I added a label so I can quickly tell the back! The book has a separate techniques section for things like this which is referenced from the individual pattern instructions where relevant.

I made the Peak tee next, in a pale lilac interlock that’s been in my stash for a while. This is a boxy-cut crew-neck tee which falls to high hip length. Variations include a long sleeve and elasticated waist dress views, for which instructions are given in the book.

In terms of fit I found the back neckline a bit too broad for me; the neckband keeps it snug but I’d make an adjustment before sewing up again. Also the sleeve head is symmetrical which I think is causing a little excess fabric around the front armsyce/upper bust on me. Both quite common fit issues on me since I’m smaller through the back and upper chest, so I can alter the pattern accordingly for next time. Overall I think the proportions are great, and it also sewed up quickly with thorough instructions. I hemmed the sleeves to the outside for a cuffed effect.

Overall I’d definitely recommend this book to those either brand new to sewing knits as a project-based learning book, or those who have some experience and want six cool basic-with-a-twist patterns and technique references. Thanks for having me on the tour and to Minerva for my trouser fabric! You can check out other projects from the book at the other tour stops below:

And if you fancy a copy, MAKEetc.com are offering 25% off the £12,99 cover price with code BLOG25 until 21st April. Not bad for six patterns!

Dos Alders in Mexico

I’ve just got back from a short holiday to Mexico; it was our third time there as it’s probably my favourite country in the world (vying closely with Japan!). In the week prior I decided I needed a couple of new holiday dresses, so spent some very enjoyable evening and weekend time sewing up some simple frocks ideal for the spring heat. I also did a few crafty things out there and a spot of fabric browsing!

(Yep, I found a sewing sign!)

I dug out an old PDF that I haven’t used for a while, Grainline’s Alder pattern. Thanks to past me I had View B adjusted for fit as I’ve made it twice before – one, two – plus an uncut copy shop version of View A which I decided to try this time. I applied similar fit and style adjustments to View A: converting the collar to a V-neck (Jen’s tutorial here), a small FBA and swinging out from the hip to add more needed pear-shape space. I’ve made so many simplifications to the pattern that it’s now only two pieces!

Both dresses have the same construction: French seams throughout (well, there’s only the shoulder and side seams so hardly a huge effort) and self bias tape to finish the neckline and arm edges. Some hate it but I quite like making self-bias and it always seems to behave better than any bought stuff. I’m that weird sewist who likes doing buttons and buttonholes too so this was quite the dream sew. They both have my little custom labels that I designed and had made by Nominette too.

Onto some in-situ holiday snaps… (sorry these look kinda pixelly? Something weird going on with my exports.)

The first one is in a beautiful lightweight but opaque printed linen from The Fabric Store. I ordered this fabric actually expecting to use it to make some cushions, but once it arrived the drape and smooth handle were so lovely I couldn’t resist a dress instead. (And I have enough left for those cushions, yay!)

I spent a while at the cutting stage trying to get the print lined up across the seams and centre front. Giving myself a B+, it’s pretty darn close!

These pictures were taken in the lovely suburb of Coyoacán, fitted with scented flowers, cobbled streets and colourful walls.

The second one is made from Kokka double gauze that I bought in Tokyo last spring. This abstract print was far less critical to match! I adore the colours in this fabric and it’s butter soft.

Happy to report it was both heat- and cycle-friendly! I can’t wait until the English summer or another holiday to wear these again.

Onto some other crafty stuff I did over there. One day we did short workshop in the lovely San Angel area to learn about alebijres, the richly-decorated little folk animals you find in every Mexican craft market, and to paint our own versions. They have an interesting history that merges pre-hispanic traditions with the work of one of Diego Rivera’s proteges, Pedro Linares. I made a little pink ‘n’ green kitty and Josh painted the crazy lightning lad.

We also took a class on another day to make a small weaving using yarns mainly dyed with natural products such as indigo, cochineal and flowers. This took place in the Chapultepec Forest and was also really fun and relaxing. We booked both of these days (along with some other trips) on Airbnb experiences, and I really recommend those as a way to meet locals, hear their stories and maybe do a little holiday crafting.

The artisan markets are full of wonderful crafts too. I brought home a lovely blackwork Otomi embroidery like in the right-hand photo above, which I’m going to hang on the wall. You can read a bit more about Otomi’s history and how it’s made here.

Finally, I did a spot of fabric shopping in the city of Puebla, a couple of hours east of Mexico city, where we decided to spend a night fairly last-minute. It was a good decision as Puebla is a beautiful place, with an amazing antiques/flea market, stunning old churches, and plenty of fabric shops!

Like most Mexican cities, similar shops tend to clump together along a street or block, so there were several fabric shops conveniently next to each other around Calles 2 Ote and 8 Pte towards the north of the small city centre. Josh handily entertained himself by going to buy tacos árabes, a local speciality (another interesting read), while I poked around a few of the stores.

There were the usual suspects that I encountered on my first trip to Mexico, the large chains called Parisina and Modatelas. These usually contain haberdashery and other crafting / misc household stuff too, and the fabrics are mostly synthetic and very bright! However I did spot some nice rayons, linen blends, ‘crepe ghost’ whatever that may be, and traditional style woven stripes and smocking.

I liked the smaller shops better; these typically have sections for knit/woven dress prints, costume type fabrics like tulle and sequin, and a wall of more premium cashmere and wool suitings. Prices are mostly in the $50-150 MXN (£2-6 GBP) per metre range, thought probably more for the fancier stuff.

I only bought one thing, this irresistibly silly cat print knit which I’ll use for a simple pyjama top. But it’s still always a treat just to browse in fabric shops while traveling! Here’s a list of some of the shops in Puebla in case you are travelling there:

Telas La Moderna, Av 2 Pte 106
Telas Janina de Miguel Velázquez, Av 2 Pte 310,
Modatelas, Av 2 Pte 304
Parisina, Av 2 Pte 111
Telas Boaltex, Av 8 Pte 116
Telas Rafa, Av 8 Pte 307

Mom jeans 2

Here’s the second pair of jeans made from my self-drafted pattern! In a classic blue denim this time, an indigo selvedge number from my go-to denim source, Ditto Fabrics.


I made a few little tweaks from my pink pair, mainly to get the centre back fitting better. I angled the back yoke seam even more to account for excess fabric in the small of my back, and also transferred a sliver at the top of the back leg onto the bottom of the yoke, as the yoke was looking a bit shallow. I’ve still got a fold there, so next time I’ll take even more out.

In further recycling efforts from my Monki base pair, this time I reused the zip! I used some scraps of rather loosely-woven ikat cotton for the pocket bags. I should have used something more stable, I hope they don’t shred quickly.


To keep things interesting I tried a different technique for the waistband, where the inner waistband is sewn to the inside of the pants first. Then you flip over the outer waistband, tuck in the seam allowance then topstitch and seal the outside in one pass. It’s a little bit like the tutorial that Heather recently posted on her blog. The benefit is there’s no need to invisibly secure the inner waistband like the regular technique, since you sew that first and then secure the outer waistband from the outside.

However I found that while the inside does indeed look super neat and tidy, it was harder to achieve a good looking result on the outside, particularly at the centre fronts where it felt bulkier than usual and was difficult to keep all the fraying edges tucked away, even with a liberal use of Aqua Glue. I had to re-sew a few bits where my stitching went awry, and was glad I wasn’t using contrasting topstitch thread!

My daily wardrobe has been desperate for jeans like these, since all my RTW pairs of this style are currently a little too tight (cold weather comfort eating and no exercise, I see you) and I don’t own a plain indigo pair. This pair has the benefit of being way more comfortable than my Monki RTW ones even when they did fit, since the denim is super soft and quite lightweight (and I think it has some elastane in, unusually for a selvedge), and the fit being obviously more tailored to me. They’ve had plenty of wear already! I just wish I’d done slightly contrasting topstitching for a bit of visual interest. I’m now on the hunt for a true solid black to continue building up my jeans rota.

Pink jeans

Phew, this slow sewing business means long blog posts are also the order of the day! Here are my new pink pants which I self-drafted and poured a lot of love and detail into, so there’s plenty to write about…

The style of these trousers is based on a pair of very much loved ready-to-wear mom jeans from Monki. ‘Mom’ style refers to the somewhat 80s aesthetic combo of high waist, loose fit through the hips, tapering to a ankle-length slim calf – a shape I think works pretty well on my pear shape but is difficult to find a good fit in the shops. My Monki jeans were made out of a rigid denim and I was forced to admit that they’d become just a shade too tight to be really comfortable. I haven’t seen a single commercial sewing pattern for this style so made the decision to sacrifice my jeans by cutting them apart to draft my own pattern.

The rubbing-off process was pretty straightforward: I seam-ripped the waistband and crotch apart then carefully cut close to the main seamlines to open up the legs. Then I pressed everything flat and traced all the pieces onto dot and cross paper.

I slashed and spread a little to add in extra width where needed to make them actually fit again, trued up all the adjacent seams then finally added grainlines, notches and seam allowances. Some pieces like the pockets were easier to draft off the tracing rather than the original jeans. It was all pretty intuitive, though you could check out this Craftsy class if you wanted to learn how to do it properly!

Drafting bring all the curious cats to the yard…




Having made loads of pants I could retrofit the construction method easily using standard techniques. I did a lot of baste-and-try as I went to make sure my drafting was working out okay. Generally I did a pretty good job on the fit but annoyingly I made a mistake adding width into the back yoke as it turned out huge and gape-y in the small of my back. I did my best to fix it but it’s left a few irritating puckers along the yoke seam. Additionally when I use this pattern again I’ll take some height out of the centre back as it’s wrinkling a bit horizontally too. But eh, linen wrinkles anyway so it doesn’t show up too much.

I used a heavyweight blush pink linen from The Fabric Store, which they kindly sent to me. I think this is the first linen I’ve got from TFS, which is silly since along with merino knits I think it is what the store is most well-known for. They have many different weights and get beautiful trend-forward colours dyed just for them (the dreamy Caper shade has been a big hit in blogland, and I have my eye on it too…). In fact I have barely sewn with linen at all generally. I think I’ve always been put off by the wrinkles and that it’s always felt both a little rough yet delicate and loosely woven to me.

I’m glad to find that so far, my fears were unfounded. It was great to sew with, a little lighter weight than the usual denim I use so helped to assuage any bulky seams. My only concern is that it’s rather loosely woven and frayed quite a lot as I was working, so I really hope it holds up to plenty of wear. All the major seams are overlocked and faux-flat-felled, and I think the flax fibre is stronger than it seems so my worrying may be unfounded.

There are lots of details that I poured extra time into, which I had a lot of fun planning and sewing. Despite being made of non-denim I wanted them to definitely read jeans rather than chinos, so added all the usual detailing: double topstitching across the seams, fly topstitching, and nice metal hardware. I love the sturdy pink and brass zip and the fun jeans button and rivets, all from eBay.

I didn’t want the waistband to bag out over time so I stabilised the entire top edge inside with some twill tape, and also added some loosely-stretched elastic into the back waistband only. (Interestingly the waistband – as copied from my source jeans – is straight, which never usually works on me but this one is very narrow and sits very high on the waist, so it doesn’t gape.)


Something I’ve wanted to try for a while: I added a little underlap with a concealed button to the inside waistband. This helps keeps the waistband horizontally aligned and gives it a little extra stability. Super happy with how it turned out and it’s definitely my best-sewn fly front overall. (Yeah the buttonholes look messy: I put some paper behind the fabric as it’s a really difficult area to feed under the buttonhole foot otherwise, and I haven’t picked it all out yet.)




I think this is my favourite bit: I picked off the original back waistband label, machine-embroidered stars over it with my daisy foot and sewed it back on. I like the reconstructed nod to the source garment and it also helps give these that proper jeans-y look. I got the daisy foot for Christmas last year and it’s the first time I’ve used it, it’s great!


Pink jeans might not seem like a capsule wardrobe essential, but this colour is pretty much a neutral to me these days. In fact I thought I’d have to wait until spring to start wearing them but they pair really well with sweaters (RTW and Toaster above) and I don’t really feel the cold too much anyway so I can start wearing them right away!

These jeans feel amazing to wear, amongst the most comfortable and well-fitting I’ve made/worn, and they were an absolute joy to sew, from drafting to hammering in rivets. Overall they took about three weeks of leisurely sew-time which I think is a good benchmark to aim for in my slow sewing going forward. I can’t wait until spring really kicks in when I’m sure they’ll get worn to death with tees and sandals. I’m definitely going to use the pattern again to make a classic indigo pair next – I have some selvedge denim on the way already.

Have you self-drafted or rubbed off favourite clothing? I think it’s quite addictive!