Category Archives: Indie patterns

Philippa pants: fitting and adding a ‘tummy stay’

After a few sewing fails in a row (some Lander pants in a frankly hideous fabric choice, a vintage jumpsuit that looked 80s in the wrong way, some patchwork jeans that looked straight-up weird) I was so happy to finish these trousers and be 100% in love with them. They are Anna Allen Philippa pants in a stretch corduroy from Minerva, which I received as part of being in their blogger network. My main blog post about the pants will be going up over there later, but I thought I’d go into a bit more detail on the fitting and construction process over here.

I don’t often toile patterns but I did in this case as I wasn’t at all sure what size to cut and thought I may need some adjustments to cover the size difference between my waist and hips on such a close fitting design. The pattern comes with a complete separate booklet of useful fitting tips and I also sought some very helpful advice on Instagram.

The main consensus pointed to a full stomach adjustment, reducing the crotch depth, and giving more space in the thigh.

Thanks in particular to Evelyn @slowintention who sent me these diagrams showing how she did the full thigh and full stomach adjustments.

Toile 3 – which repurposed the aforementioned horrible-fabric Landers by the way. What was I thinking. Pinching out the crotch wrinkles with pins.

Over the course of three toiles I made the following adjustments:
– 1” full stomach adjustment (I added space both horizontally and vertically as you can see in the main slashed areas above)
– Graded up a size at the inner front thigh, tapering in again towards the knee
– Took 1” off the rise all around, and wedged a further 3/4” out of the crotch curve at the lengthen/shorten line
– Scooped out the back crotch a bit at the seat (low butt adjustment)
– Omitted the back darts completely (?!)
– Sewed the outer leg seams at a 3/4” seam allowance, mainly to compensate for the stretch in my fabric
– Shortened the leg length by 1″
– Converted the waistband from straight to curved (a tutorial is included in the pattern for this; I only needed it because I lowered the rise to where my body curves in). I sewed cotton tape into the top seam of the waistband to prevent stretching over time.

The fit is still not perfect! There are some diagonal drag lines on the back leg and there is excess fabric bunching around my knees – I was focusing on the waist/hip area and only toiled down to the mid thigh. The grainline seems a bit twisted too which I wonder is down to maintaining the straight side seams. But I don’t really mind! They’re crazy comfortable and I think they’re the kind of trouser that will need minor adjustment each time it’s sewn due to fabric variances.

I pretty much went my own way with the construction. I cut-on the fly facing pieces to the main front leg and used my preferred Sandra Betzina method to do a zip fly instead of the button fly as in the pattern. I’m proud of this fly front, it’s super flat and I interfaced the surrounding area inside to keep it sturdy. The cool matte black button came as a spare with a RTW pair of jeans!

I also decided to add a sort of tummy-tuck stay piece into the front for a bit of firmness in this area – similar to a pocket stay/holster but as these have no front pockets it’s just a layer of self fabric. I used the front pieces to draft them off and anchored into the fly and side seams as they were sewn. I stretched the pieces a little as I sewed them in and I think this really helps in smoothing out the front area.

Next time I sew this pattern I will try using a non-stretch fabric as recommended, but this pair is so comfortable and I’m pleased with the fit I ended up with.

Spring Landers

I… I think we can finally call spring being here? I’ve packed away my coat and jumpers at least, and I’ve made a spring-y version of my favourite trousers.

Making a second pair of True Bias Lander pants has been on my to-do list for ages. I wear my first pair all the time, but they’re made of quite a thick denim and it’s getting a little too warm for them (hurrah!). My heart got set on an ivory/cream pair, and to that end first off I bought some needlecord which unfortunately proved too this and rather see through. I tried dyeing them but they just turned out patchy and weird. Into the scraps bin they went.

After sulking a bit I ordered some Robert Kaufman Ventana twill from fabric.com, since it’s the fabric Kelli used in all the pattern samples. Ordering from this US-based site from the UK is easy enough by the way and shipping isn’t too costly. I did have to pay £10 in customs and deal with the ungodly nightmare that is UPS delivery; it’s really cheap and has a great range though, so it kinda evens out!


The cotton Ventana twill is indeed a good match for the pattern; I would actually call it light-medium weight rather than fabric.com’s medium/heavy description, which I think is why it creases a bit readily. There is still a bit of pocket and seam-allowance show through but not enough to bother me this time. I decided to convert the patch pockets to inside pockets, which Kelli has a tutorial for, though now I’ve seen them I think I prefer the original pockets to break up my expense of hip, hah.

I’m hoping these will be just as wearable as my denim ones for spring and summer, though being of the clumsy/messy variety we’ll see how long they stay white! I have lots of other sewing plans for the warmer months – most definitely including Kelli’s newest pattern, the Yari jumpsuit.

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…

It’s turtles all the way down

After cracking out my coat, here are some simpler sews ready for winter – lots of knits, built-in neckwarmers, and some bonus cosy pants. First up, this is a Papercut Rise, in a lovely grey marl rib that I’ve had in my stash for a while – I think it was from Woolcrest. I made this pattern up twice ages ago and both succumbed to washing fails, so I’m glad to have a new one (and to have learnt to never tumble-dry my handmades!)

This is a Sew House Seven Toaster 1 sweater. There are loads of lovely versions of this pattern in blogland but I think it was Heather’s gorgeous classic cream version that made me buy it. For a more shrunken fit I cut a size small, took a couple of inches off the body and sleeves, and brought in the neckline for a slightly closer fitting turtleneck. The neck sort of collapses because this fabric is pretty fine and drapey, but I still like how it looks. I used the reverse of the fabric – a soft knit with a slightly brushed back, also from Woolcrest I think – for most of the body, and the ‘right’ side for the cuffs and hem for a bit of subtle contrast. This pattern is so fast and has zero hemming, hurrah!

And for a bit of variety, this is Toaster with no turtle! Made from a lovely lilac marled sweatshirting from MyFabrics, with matching ribbing for the hem and cuff bands. I’m very into both cropped sweatshirts and pastel colours at the moment – rather new for me but I think these tones are actually pretty good on my colouring – so this sweater is ticking a lot of boxes.

Do you like my Pusheen mermaid socks :D

These trousers are the Style Arc Joni. I made these for a very specific use case: when you get home from work and immediately have to shrug off your awful constricting day clothes – lovely and well-fitting and handmade as they may be – and wriggle back into super comfy but definitely indoor-appropriate-only sweats or pyjamas. This pattern attracted me because they’re a bit elevated from basic track pants by the twisted lower leg seams, faux topstitched fly and little front tucks, but still pyjama-comfortable.

This pattern is easy as pie, only made a little more tricky by the drapey and stretchy quality of the fabric I used – a luxurious modal terry again from MyFabrics, again with matching ribbing for the waistband and cuffs. I’m a convert to investing in proper ribbing, it really makes it easier to get nice snug cuffs and neckbands and I think makes projects look more RTW.

I made them exactly as patterned with no fitting alterations; I could stand to take an inch or so off the leg but I don’t mind the slight slouch around the deep cuff that the extra length brings. I think I could even get away with wearing these to work on a casual/hungover sort of day. Come at me, winter!

P.S This post’s title refers to one of my favourite anecdotes

Ombre Freemantle




It’s been quite a long time since I tackled a coat project (and got outside for a photo shoot!). My Yona coat has happily seen me through two winters and it’s actually still good for this year, but I also fancied a new option. Once I clocked this awesome fabric and realised what an amazing Marilla Walker Freemantle coat it’d make there was no going back.

I actually first attempted this pattern back in 2014, soon after it was first released. Shall we say my skills did not match up to my ambition back then and the WIP wound up skulking on my mannequin for a long time before getting ditched. It’s a fairly advanced pattern to construct, especially as written with the insides underlined and bias-bound rather than a bagged/enclosed lining, and the cut-on square underarm gussets to wrap your head around. Marilla has actually discontinued the pattern from her shop as she felt the construction was too challenging to be saleable, but I’m sure she’d sort you out if you asked. Also word is she’s releasing some new patterns soon… :) EDIT TO ADD: Marilla is reworking this pattern to include a standard sort of lining, so keep your eyes peeled for the re-released pattern this side of Christmas! Great news, and would have saved me some head-scratching!


I did actually alter the pattern to have a standard lining, which is not that straightforward to do – it was one of the things that tripped me up on my first attempt in fact. The difficulty comes because the main body has raglan construction whereas the facing just has shoulder seams, so you can’t simply deduct the facings from the main body pieces to end up with the lining, if that makes sense. Marilla does have a tutorial on it, but it still didn’t click for me! Instead I made the lining as an exact dupe of the outer, then topstitched the facings on top (binding the raw facing edge with bias before doing so) and finally trimmed back the lining from underneath the facing parts. I then cut the inners down by two inches to form the jump hem and used a mix of the Yona coat instructions and this Grainline tutorial for a refresher when it came to machining it all together. Sounds complicated but still easier than making a neat job of all that binding in the underlined version, ha ha.

The star-of-the-show fabric is a very dreamy grey ombre wool and mohair coating from Fabworks that I totally bought with the Freemantle in mind. I knew that placing the stripes nicely would be key so bought 3m and mocked up some options in Photoshop before deciding on my cutting layout. The fabric was as wonderful to work with as wool always is, taking a steamy press beautifully, and I love the fuzzy halo that the mohair gives it. It’s quite lightweight and drapey yet incredibly warm and cosy. I’ve been wearing it as a coatigan indoors as well as out as it’s so soft and unstructured. I did apply interfacing strategically but may go back and add some twill tape along key seamlines as I’m a bit nervous of it stretching out with wear.

I’m especially proud of the welt pockets. It’s always terrifying making that big slice into your garment front, but these turned out so nicely and they feel really roomy and practical – plus the inner facing is in self-fabric so they’re all snuggly on my paws. I had the giant copper snaps in my stash, I think they’re from Macculloch and Wallis in Soho. I only had two but three would really be better, though I don’t think I will wear this closed very often anyway.


Little details of the collar and that underarm gusset, which is rather fun to sew, especially seeing the gradient fabric wrap around it. I wound up sewing the collar twice as the first time I got it backwards, and then I realised I didn’t like the placement I’d done so re-cut it in a darker area. I also interfaced it the second time, which made it easier to get nice crisp edges.


The motivation to complete this project came just in time really as it’s suddenly got a bit chilly here in London. I wore it out for dinner literally as soon as I did the last handstitch on the snaps as well as out the next day, so I reckon it will be on regular rotation this winter. Is anyone else planning a new winter coat? Word is Grainline is releasing her personal pattern for this dreamboat, so this might not be my only coat project of the season!

Lovely Lander

I made up True Bias’ new Lander pants pattern last weekend. I was sort of disappointed when I first finished sewing them, but a few little tweaks and I’m really digging them now.

I originally made these up in the full length, which is what threw me off knowing if I liked them or not. I was really hoping to like them in full length as I’m not sure how to translate my many pairs of cropped pants into the winter, and I find my previously-trusty skinnies really uncomfortable after a summer of breezy culottes! But alas, in the full length I couldn’t shake terrible 90s connotations of bootcut pants, especially in black as they reminded me of trousers I had to wear when I waitressed… they didn’t actually look awful, but I tried on a few pairs of shoes to test the styling and just couldn’t imagine wearing them much. So I took a few inches off and they were transformed into something I’m much more comfortable with.

The Lander’s key features are delightfully practical roomy patch pockets plus the exposed button fly, which as well as looking super cool was pretty fun to construct. Much easier than I was expecting and much more straightforward than a zip fly, although if you noticed I did manage to sew it backwards (a mirror image to what it should be), doh. You do end up with a lot of layers and seam allowances sandwiched in there, so it was a bit tricky to make the buttonholes and finish the waistband edges neatly. Next time I may cut-on the fly underlap to the front pant piece to reduce one of the seams.

I used some sweet rose-stamped jeans buttons that I’ve had kicking around for a while. They were cheap and don’t feel 100% secure, so I’m a little worried one might pop off at an inopportune moment. I did give them a good tug and they held out on my first day’s wear though so fingers crossed.

I cut a size 8 and did some pre-adjustments to the pattern before cutting my fabric to suit my shape: a full butt/thigh adjustment and switching the straight waistband for a contoured one (I think Kelli is going to cover this adjustment in the sewalong). The pattern features a generous 1″ seam allowance for the outer leg seams so there is opportunity to further fine-tune the fit through the hips at the sewing stage, which is a very nice touch. (Being me, I barely glanced at the instructions so missed this salient point, then got really confused when the waistband didn’t fit on, ha ha.)

Fabric-wise I used a very lovely selvedge denim from Ditto Fabrics that I grabbed from the shop on a daytrip to Brighton a few weeks ago. This denim feels beautiful quality – excellent for the price – and has slight stretch with good recovery. Because the inseam is straight I could use the raw selvedge edge, and I overlocked the other seams in matching white and pink thread.

In short: digging this pattern! I really like the fit I ended up with so I may do some little hacks on these in the future, and probably make the shorts version if I get somewhere warm on holiday soon.

More Landers out there: Marilla Walker, Meg, Handmade Frenzy, Dandelion Drift