Category Archives: Pattern hack

Nenuphar 3, winter coat edition

So to start with some tragic news for this first new year post: I lost my latest Lysimaque Nenuphar jacket at my work’s Christmas party. After less than a month of enjoying it, it got swallowed by a karaoke room and I had no luck with the establishment’s lost property the next day. I’m really quite sad, I loved that jacket. Although at least on the plus side, the fabric was not expensive and it didn’t take too long to make so I’m pretty sure I will whip up a duplicate come spring.

And on another plus side, it gave me a kick to make a coat that’s a bit more appropriate to the current weather… using the very same pattern yet again.

To make the Nenuphar pattern cosy-coat-appropriate, I simply added even more length at the hem (the side seams are completely straight so it really doesn’t matter where the length is added). The total from armsyce to hem is 27″ for this one which is a nice knee length on me.

I adore the huge pockets on this pattern, and like my previous version I placed the baby pockets asymmetrically for some visual interest. The little one perfectly holds my iPhone and the big one holds my iPad – not that I walk around laden with Apple swag, but I’ve definitely loaded them up with assorted groceries when I’ve forgotten a reusable shopper bag.

I used a gorgeous charcoal wool from Woolcrest Textiles, a bargain as ever at £10/m. It’s kinda like a smooth, thick felted texture; the edges don’t unravel at all so I left the seam allowances raw and didn’t turn back the edges on the facings, which saved on bulkiness.

Neckline/placket facing, topstitched down

I decided to rework the collar area by drafting a neckline and button placket facing rather than the tricky way the pattern has you finish the collar by tucking the seam allowances under and aligning the edges perfectly with the top of the button placket – I felt I had no chance getting that neat and tidy in a bulkier fabric. My facing idea worked beautifully and was much easier to sew – it’s topstiched in place all around the neckline and down the fronts to the hem.

The nice marbled buttons are from Liberty: I confess I started wearing the coat before I’d added them (and took the picture above) but that meant I could wear the coat to go and pick the buttons out so I knew they’d match, hah.

Here’s a nice relevant picture of it in front of a tailor’s shop window in Marylebone at the weekend to finish. And I might just add a ‘return to’ address label to the inside so there’s more chance of getting it back if there’s karaoke shenanigans in its future.

Nenuphar, édition d’automne

I hate the period of the year from September to March. Hate, hate, hate everything about the darker, colder, sadder seasons. My weird form of resistance to this is dressing seasonally-inappropriately for as long as I can bear. However two rotten colds later I decided I did need a layering piece for over my jumpers when I cycle into work. (I’ll be reluctantly trading the bare ankles for knee socks and boots soon, too.)

I dug out the Lysimaque Nenuphar jacket again, which I made in lilac back in the spring. I love that little jacket and wore it loads in the warmer months, but the combination of the colour and cropped/shrunken shape means it isn’t great for colder weather knitwear layering. I had in mind that if lengthened and slightly oversized in an appropriately moodier fabric it’d make a similarly chuck-on-able autumn jacket. To that end, before cutting I lengthened the body pieces eight inches at the hem, graded up a size from waist to hip, and enlarged the width of the sleeves by an inch or so.

I had fun with pocket placement too! I placed the two large ones asymmetrically, added a little chest one, and added a matching one to the elbow of the opposite sleeve for lols, which you can’t see but it’s there and cute (I think I was inspired by CCP’s Sienna jacket). I adore how big these pockets are. They’ve already saved me on a supermarket trip when I forgot a reusable bag – I fitted a pot of houmous, a mini ciabatta, a block of Cheddar and a bottle of Lucozade in (see: I have a cold) and only felt slightly like a pack-horse.

I used this delightful and well-priced black sanded twill from Merchant & Mills. It’s got a slightly navy undertone and the slightly brushed/peached finish make it feel a little cosy, though it picks up lint like no-one’s business. Buttons are my usual favourites from Textile Garden. All the pocket topstitching turned out lovely and crisp and the collar was much easier to manoeuvre into place second time sewing.

I’m planning a real coat-coat for when it gets even colder (I’m envisioning a lengthened version of the Sienna in boiled wool), but I think this chap will see me through nicely for a couple of months and out the other side into early Spring… roll on, please…

Trend TPC12 with zip fly mod

I have earned a bit of a reputation amongst the folk in my workplace for owning the same garments (and shoes) in multiple colours and wearing essentially the same uniform in different hues every day. Guilty as charged – this is my third pair of this pattern.

I’ve had this pair of ASOS trousers pinned for ages knowing that I wanted to recreate them – I’m physically incapable of buying RTW anymore due to that trifecta of horrible fit, crap fabrics and of course ethical and sustainability reasons. Luckily I found a duplicate of the fabric – this gorgeous creamy seeded denim from Merchant and Mills – and figured I could get a similar silhouette using Trend’s TPC12 utility trouser pattern yet again (previous pairs: 1,2).

I couldn’t however bring myself to sew the pattern’s crazy button fly situation again, and had it in mind that I could quite easily swap in a standard zip fly in its place. This took a bit of redrafting and relying on prior art but I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

If you want to have a go, here’s roughly what I did:
– Cut the centre front pieces with the cut-on fly extension on both sides. Interfaced the extension areas and sewed a zip in per my favourite instructions.
– Drafted a simple fly shield piece: this simply needs to be a rectangle the depth of the fly area and twice the width. It’s sewn right sides together around two edges, turned right sides out and the remaining long edge is overlocked. This is then sewn onto the fly underlap side – you could refer to any jeans pattern for similar construction order.
– For the waistband I used the Outer Left piece from the original pattern, cut as two pairs for the new outer and facing (the original pattern has a load of wackily-sized waistband pieces as the finishing around the fly is handled… unusually.). It just needed trimming down a bit at the front to fit. I decided to give the edge a point to reflect the thigh pocket design.

I made another modification too which was a bit of a hotfix for a fitting issue. For some reason, despite cutting the pattern down a size after my last pair because I wanted a neater fit, these turned out ginormous on first baste. I have no idea what happened but I was drowning in them – maybe this more rigid fabric meant they didn’t drape like my previous pairs but still. I took them in through every single seam I could, and also subsumed the back dart into a new seam which runs the entire length of the back leg.

This was a great move because the back thigh/knee area has been annoyingly baggy on both of my previous pairs so this kinda leg-princess-seam meant I could suck some of the excess out under the butt (although these are supposed to be loose/carrot-shaped so I didn’t want to over-fit either).

I think I’ll modify the paper pattern to reflect this change for next time – I’m pretty sure that true to form there’ll still be a next time (in indigo denim?!), especially now I can corner-cut on the fly situation.

It’s a wrap hack

I haven’t been sewing a great deal lately: I’m guessing it’s something to do with the upcoming change of season coupled with not feeling too great about my appearance lately and not feeling inspired by any of the fabrics in my stash. General end of summer gloom!

I didn’t push it and instead did a refreshing destash sale and started looking after myself better in other ways, then this weekend my inspiration naturally returned and I made this jumpsuit that I never want to take off.

My inspiration came directly from Catherine of Threadsnips, who snapped up a lovely rare vintage wrap jumpsuit pattern of a similar style to this. She very helpfully pointed out how a similar effect can be hacked from any other plain front jumpsuit pattern by simply extending out a triangle from the centre front and attaching ties.

I followed her example using the fabulous Butterick 6312 as my base pattern (which I’ve made before and still wear frequently). I followed the v of the neckline down to the waistline then reversed it below the waist down to the crotch. It’s always a risk cutting a hack directly onto your good fabric right off, but having made the base pattern before I thought it was low risk in this case.


Construction was pretty speedy. I made self bias to finish the entire neckline including the wrap edges all in one go. At the crotch I pinned the overlap in place while wearing it and topstitched it down for a couple of inches to secure. I made two straps and sewed these onto the points, and finally made a buttonhole on the right-hand side seam to thread the inner strap through. There is no need for any other fastening as the wrap opens wide enough to step into it, woohoo.

I treated myself to the fabric with the destash earnings: It’s cotton ikat from Merchant & Mills, the same fabric type I used for my first version too. I needed 3 metres as it’s quite narrow and used nearly all of it. This fabric is the dream to work with and to wear; I really could imagine a wardrobe composed of little else. I suspect it’ll be fine to wear in autumn and most of winter too.

Next time I plan to alter the fit slightly around the neck as it’s not spot on, and I plan to curve out the v a little so it sits better on the upper chest. I might attempt a swayback too as I get fabric pooling under the tie belt. And hmmm, pockets, it definitely needs some sort of pocket action next time.

Tweaks made, there’s a quite serious risk I could make dozens of these (in an army of ikats?) and wear little else! It’s crazy comfortable and I feel really good in it, which is pretty much all I can ask for at the moment.

Silk Statues, and swing cami dress tutorial

This dress skipped both the sewing and blogging queue. The sewing part was pure necessity because London has gone full heatwave (or summer is actually just starting for really-reals), and the blogging part just took advantage of this sweet golden morning light.

I’ve really got quite behind on blogging, because I bought this fabric on a recent trip to Hong Kong and I really expected to write up the fabric shopping situation there before sewing any of my purchases up! Anyway this is an absolutely gorgeous silk crepe de chine that I bought for about £7.50 metre in a treasure trove just off Ki Lung Street in Kowloon. The shop had a rainbow of plain silks and loads of my weakness, fun ‘conversational’ prints. It was unfortunately cash-only and one of the last places I stopped, so that hampered my buying a touch, but I’m very pleased with what I came away with, especially this one with its weird lady statuette print.


I decided to sew the fabric up rather impulsively, as I didn’t want to be too scared to use it and have it sitting around for ages, and silk crepe is perfect for aforementioned sticky heat season. I really wanted a chuck-on dress and have seen lots of this pretty square neckline around. The problem is this style is all but impossible to fit on me out of the packet. I look at people wearing things like the Tessuti Claudia dress in wonder: HOW is it not gaping at the top or straining at the bust?! HOW did your hips fit into that elegant column shape?! Pear-shape-hollow-chest problems. I knew to get the fit right I would need to go a self-draft/extreme hack route.

Here’s how I drafted the pattern. I used the Salme Double-Layer Cami pattern as a basis, which I had knocking round in PDF from ages ago (it looks like Salme have disappeared off the internet so no link, sorry); the True Bias Ogden would also work although it lacks darts.

1. Cut a line up the bodice front, stopping at the bust point. Also cut along the middle of the bust dart, stopping just before the first line so you have a little hinge point. (If your camisole isn’t darted, run this line all the way almost to the top of the front.)
2. Swing out the lower piece around this point until the gap at the bottom is opened up by around 2 inches. (Your final ‘swing’ will be 4x this measurement as it will be doubled on the front and back.) You might close the bust dart completely in the process, or just make it smaller.
3. Fill in the gap with paper, tape down and true up the side seam at the dart.
4. Add length, following the angle of the side seam and the curve of the hem. Mine is 32″ from underarm to hem. I would’ve gone a bit longer but this was all my fabric would allow.
5. Repeat these steps on the back, but take the vertical cutting line nearly all the way to the top and swing out from there.
6. Square off the neckline from the strap points to centre front. Fill in with paper.
7. Draft facings off the new front and back pieces. Come down about two inches from the underarm and curve up to the centre.
8. Make a toile! This is quite important to check the level of flare is good and that the front and back necklines are not gaping. I used my alternative construction method when it came to adding the straps and facings.


Annoyingly I found that even after a toile and making further adjustments, the front and back STILL gaped, just enough to be noticeable and annoying. My upper chest is very narrow and rather concave, so I can see why it’s difficult to encourage fabric to hug it nicely. I approached the solution differently on the front and back. On the back I nudged the straps inward by 1/2″ and shaved a bit off the side curve, which isn’t ideal as it doesn’t follow the line of my bra straps any more. On the front I sewed a strip of flat elastic into the facing seam, pulling it taut slightly. The result is a slightly puckered front neckline but it does finally lay flat. I’m not sure how I’ll fix this for next time. A narrow band across the top which is tightly eased-in to the bodice edge perhaps.

Outtake for ya to finish! Despite the minor neckline issues I’m thrilled with this dress and it definitely beat the heat today. Josh took these photos as my self timer has broken and I really like how they turned out. Much nicer to be smiling at my boyfriend than a screen… he’ll be delighted to have got the job I’m sure.

Midi Inari

After the Coat project saga, I really wanted a nice palate cleanser, and this dress fitted the bill perfectly!

I’ve been Pinning lots of midi dresses lately as they seem like just the thing to wear on these in-betweeny not-quite-spring-yet sort of days. It’s a super simple hack of Named’s Inari dress. I added 30cm of length at the hem (in fact I just taped a piece of portrait-wise A4 paper to the bottom, heh) and ended up taking a deep hem, so it’s around 20cm longer than the Inari as patterned.


I fine-tune the fit of the Inari each time I make it and for this knit fabric I ended up taking one-inch seam allowances to bring it in a bit. It’s still loose through the middle and tighter at the hip and hem. I made the side split proportionally longer too.

The awesommmeeee fabric is from Maud’s Fabric Finds, one of my favourite places to shop because most of the fabrics are organic and the customer service is so great. (Maud found out this fabric was narrower than expected after my order, so she added another 70cm for free.) This print seems to be sold out but here are some similar ones. It’s between an interlock and sweatshirting weight so quite thick with lots of stretch and recovery. And pyjama-comfortable, needless to say. I think this’ll be on regular rotation until Autumn.