Category Archives: Self-drafted

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!

Lil’ black dress

Self-draft dress

You may have spied this dress in my MMM update – I’ve worn it twice already in May so it’s definitely on course to becoming a wardrobe staple. Like some of my other recent self-drafts I think it hits that sweet spot between low-key but not boring, and hence extremely everyday-wearable.

Self-draft dress
Self-draft dress

It’s a self-draft from my block – a very simple one in fact. I just added a bit of waist ease to my princess seam bodice, slashed out the skirt to include gathers, and added side pockets. I wanted to incorporate a shoulder-to-waist princess seam so that I could trim it with this gorgeous woven ribbon that I bought in Paris last year and have been hoarding for exactly this purpose. I only bought a metre as it was quite expensive, and luckily that was just enough to trim the seams and cross the front waist – I used every last mm of it. Check out Minerva’s ribbon selection for some alternatives: these two are quite similar, or how about some cats?

Self-draft dress

To enhance the ribbon design I picked a complementary embroidery stitch on my machine to hem the sleeves. I really dig how the white stitching looks against the plain black fabric – memo to self to play more with built-in stitches sometime.

Self-draft dress

Furthering my button obsession, I put them all the way down the back. I thought it reflected the folksy kind of feel. Luckily I can actually get the dress on and off without having to undo any of them! Having worn it a bit I reckon I need to put a few extra buttons on the skirt portion as it doesn’t feel 100% secure.

Self-draft dress

This is my Minerva network project for this month, and I used their linen-look cotton fabric in black. I was intending to make trousers initially but I think the fabric is a touch too lightweight and not quite fully opaque. It makes a great dress though and was super to work with – crisp and non-fraying – and feels delicious to wear. The fabric comes in an enticing range of colours and at £4.99/m is a real bargain. Check out Amy’s vintage Vogue in the burgundy version. Yeah, I think I’ll be needing some of that colour next.

Self-draft dress

Yay for a non-boring little black dress that’ll see me through summer and beyond!

Two recent self-drafts

I find it funny how sometimes fabrics languish in your stash for years, and others skip the queue completely and get whipped up fresh from the pre-wash. Often I find I’m much less precious about cheaper fabrics, and willing to merrily hack into them without weighing up all the options of what it might want to become. So it was with these two frocks, both made from recently purchased cheap fabric, and both self-drafts from my blocks.

Button-back dress

I’m a bit smug about this first one. This delicious viscose cost £3 a metre and I was alerted on Instagram that Whistles is using exactly the same stuff for a £110 dress – am I ever glad I can sew. Amy and I both grabbed some of it from Fabric Mart in Walthamstow when we did a super fun little fabric crawl afternoon a couple of weeks ago.

Button-back dress

You might have noticed from my previous projects that I’m a bit of a button addict. I can’t explain it, but it’s definitely a struggle to not make every project I make a buttondown dress. To avoid a very samey wardrobe, this time I moved the buttons… to the back. This pin provided the inspiration , and it was a dead easy mod from my block to make the pattern:

Button-back dress

1. Rotate the front bodice shoulder dart into the waist dart, and convert some of the dart fullness into ease.
2. Convert all of the back bodice dart fullness into ease, and cut the V-back. Add on the extra width for the button placket at the centre back.
3. Skirt is two rectangles, gathered onto the bodice with elastic. Done!

Button-back dress

This was an evening’s project from drafting to finishing, and it’s already become one of those dresses that I’m always reaching for and rushing through the laundry so I can wear it again. Love the fabric, love the length, so pleased the button-back detail worked out. I’ve saved the pattern to use again for the next perfect fabric to come along.

Scuba dress

The second one uses some excellent marble-print scuba from Saeed’s Fabrics also in Walthamstow. I even overlooked my usual aversion to white because it’s just so cool looking. I used my princess seam bodice block, and the skirt has soft pleats in the front and gathers at the back.

Scuba dress

I scooped out the back neckline here too – I think it adds a certain daintiness.

Scuba dress

The fabric was fun to work with – it’s quite a light scuba, probably about the weight of ponte but definitely scuba-y: it even smelled like wetsuit when I steamed it. I overlocked all the seams, and used Megan’s technique for neckline binding. The hem is left raw since it seemed to hang nicely and won’t fray.

By the way, I’m not doing Me-Made May :( work is so busy at the moment and I don’t really feel like documenting what I wear every day. But I’m on a good 80% at least me-made days lately anyway, and I’ll just enjoy seeing everyone else’s posts!

Christmas sewing

xmasgifts

Phew, it’s all over for another year, and I can show all the things I made for gifts now they’re with their recipients! I was pretty sly with my project choices – making gifts gets a rep for being a stressful undertaking but I really enjoyed it. Basically I see it as an excuse to buy (or stashbust) fabric and to sew a lot, but for selfless ends – win win! I also went for either quick/fun knit projects or things i wouldn’t normally pick for myself, so it was fun to try some new types of garment out.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

I made Simplicity 1620 top for my aunt Mandy out of a gorgeous John Kaldor viscose jersey from Stitch Fabrics. A nice quick project all on the overlocker – I just removed a wedge from front and back neck (narrow shoulders and hollow chests run in the family) and sized way down as I was using a knit instead of woven and the ease is typically ridiculous. I also self-lined the yoke burrito-style to finish the neckline and arms; the pattern doesn’t specify that but it made sense to me. The pattern is the cover gift on Sew magazine this month if you’re interested.

Christmas sewing

My mum got another version of a dress I made for her birthday back in September (I didn’t blog them at the time but here’s a photo). It’s a self-draft rub-off of one of her favourite dresses that she gave me to copy. It wasn’t a very complex shape to reproduce – separate waistband, slashed-and-gathered neckline and front skirt, yoked pockets – and the fit turned out bang-on so it was just a case of making it up again. The fabric’s a rather nice snuggly knitted-effect jersey from Abakhan. She loved it and it looks fabulous on her – I’ll try to get a photo as I bet she’ll wear it for new year’s and you can’t see the shape on the hanger.

Christmas sewing

I also made my mum a Love Notions Trendy Tunic using more John Kaldor jersey from my stash. I was disappointed with this pattern though; nothing seemed to line up properly and the drafting is pretty wack, with the arms being very tight and a load of excess fabric pooling in the back. I should have stuck with self-drafting as it ended up not fitting/suiting her unfortunately. In fact my recipients ended up having a bit of a switcheroo – this top ended up with Mandy (who wore it Boxing Day and it looked great on her), and Mandy gave her 1620 top to my other aunt Christine who it suited better. Hey, if everything ended up with a happy recipient I don’t mind! I probably wouldn’t make so many ‘surprise’ garments again though as I learned it’s pretty hard to predict someone’s sizing and taste, even close family.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

For my little sister I made a Dixie DIY ballet dress from some Liberty jersey – I happily grabbed the very last 1.5m of this while it was on sale in the store itself. (If you recognised the Shavings and Sharpenings print, I’ve used the same print in tana lawn to make myself a dress too.) I’ve made this pattern for her before so knew it’d fit, and she immediately wore it for the rest of Christmas Day so it was definitely a hit.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

At last minute I also made her a set of Pauline Alice Turia Dungarees out of two quilting cottons I bought with her in mind (she loves foxes, remember?). I had the pattern and notions all ready from early Dec but thought I’d run out of time to make them. Turns out they were a fairly quick sew, even with my decision to fully line them and try to achieve a semi-reversible finish. I kind of winged the construction order/method but ended up with quite a clean result – don’t ask how! It luckily fitted perfectly and I’m sure we’ll make another pair for her sometime, it’s a fab pattern. I quite fancy a corduroy dress version for myself actually.

Christmas sewing
Christmas sewing

I was incredibly touched to receive a beautiful handmade gift back from Natty. She’s been learning to sew over the last few months, taking two courses at Ray Stitch and suffering my very poor tutelage occasionally in between. She made me this stitchy-themed holdall bag, and I seriously couldn’t have done a nicer job myself. Her piping and topstitching are totally on point and I was so touched that she pushed herself to make something like this for me when she’s still a beginner. I nearly cried!

Christmas sewing

Finally, a few other sewing-related gifts I was delighted to receive. Dorky stuff: a mini iron! Thread rack and stock of threads, Chaco chalk pen, double tracing wheel, new zip foot! Fancy brass scissors and a kitty tape dispenser to make PDFs more fun. And fitting and pattern drafting books which I had my nose buried in all Christmas day. Sewing honestly brought me quite a lot of extra Christmas joy, both in the giving and receiving of handmade gifts. I can’t wait to get back to the machine now.

Icy winter wedding frock

Self-draft dress

Classic sewist situation: a family wedding at the weekend with people who know I sew and will definitely ask if I’m wearing a me-made… so naturally a new frock was called for, since I don’t have a stock of fancy frosting dresses to pull out for special occasions. I didn’t have much time to make something, so stuck with an easy but statement fabric and guaranteed fit by using my block with minimal adjustments.

Self-draft dress

As it turned out I nearly didn’t make it to the wedding at all due to a suspected case of norovirus (which was luckily a false alarm) though I was feeling decidedly peaky all day anyway, hence these rather rushed photos and my sallow face. Shame as the wedding was set in beautiful grounds and it was a nice day for mid-December.

Here’s what I did to my block to make this dress:

soft pleat dress

1. Rotated the shoulder darts into the waist darts on the front bodice. Cut the front and back bodice with about 1″ extra ease at the side seam.

2. Cut the skirt front and back with about 1″ extra ease at the side seam too, tapering out to about 3″ extra at the hem for a gentle A-line.

3. Instead of sewing all the darts as normal I just folded and stitched them down between the notches as soft pleats, all tucked towards the centre. Easy!

Self-draft dress

Since the dart placement already matched on my skirt and bodice block, the pleats match up nicely too.

Self-draft dress

The fabric is lovely stuff that I bought as a 1.75m remnant at El Palacio de las Telas in Mexico; I’m not sure if it has a bit of silk in or it’s all synthetic. It was drapey enough for the soft pleats yet sturdy enough to be fairly easy to work with, and didn’t require lining which saved a bit more time. I didn’t have loads of spare fabric to play with but tried to do a cool print placement on the front at least, with the dark area concentrated in the centre.

Self-draft dress

It’s got a mix of serged and French seams, a side invisible zip, and blind hems on the hem and sleeves. The bias-faced neckline is slipstitched down by hand.

Self-draft dress

This dress was supremely comfortable to wear, due to the good fit and little extra ease I added. Definitely a frock I can roll out again for other occasions, and I may use the same pattern again in a more casual fabric for a day dress.