Category Archives: Tops

Grey and Sunny 

Winter sewing continues apace and spoiler, I don’t think I’ll be removing this one till April. (See also: my spangly new boots, which give me LIFE of a grey autumnal morning. They’re from Mango.)


It’s a Style Arc Sunny top: a 25% off their PDFs dropped into my inbox (code PDF25, valid til Friday!); I typically buy their paper patterns but this was a good excuse to try the PDFs out for a fiver. It’s nice that you get three sizes bundled – albeit as separate files, so blending is tricky – and assembly was smooth, although I was annoyed to find that the pieces are mostly symmetrical but were printed full/flat. Such a waste of paper and taping time!


This pattern came together incredibly quickly and was really fun to whiz up on the overlocker. I wasn’t initially sure how the cocoon-y ‘skirt’ panels would look, but I trust SA’s drafting and always find their stuff looks and feels very RTW in terms of fit and ease. I love the resultant shape. The only tweak i made was to take an inch off the hem before hemming. I’m sure I’ll be making more of these, a snuggly cocoon is perfect for wrapping myself in on those don’t-wanna-get-out-of-bed days.

The gorgeous fabric is from The Fabric Store, specifically this cotton/modal blend salt’n’pepper sweatshirting. This New Zealand-based shop, who have sent me fabric before, asked me to be an ambassador for a few months and it didn’t take me long to say yes.

I’m always impressed by the range and quality that The Fabric Store offers. Personally I appreciate that they largely focus on both natural fibres and on solids/textures rather than prints. It seems like no coincidence that garments I’ve made in their fabrics in the past, like my rayon crepe Ninnis or this tied Inari tee dress, are firm wardrobe regulars. I think the garments I’ve made with my latest haul will be no exception – stayed tuned for more soon as I had a bit of a weekend sewathon with it. I should add that I have been a paying customer in the past and can vouch for their great customer service, and international postage is pretty reasonable / free over about £100 (though watch out for customs charges).

This fabric was a perfect match for the Sunny; it’s medium weight and stable with a smooth grey on one side and the salt-and-pepper marl effect in a loopy textured finish on the rear. You could definitely use either side as the right side and I was very tempted to reverse some of the panels to highlight the seamlines, but I’m glad I kept it simple and used all of the looped side as my good side. I can show the smooth side a little if I roll the sleeves at least.

It was a delight to sew with and pressed well – especially important to get a slick finish with this top and its directional seamlines. Even the neckband stretched willingly and went in nice and flat; I was concerned it wouldn’t as it’s not super stretchy. I think I have enough from my 2m left for another little top, so I can use the other side too – hurrah!

Here’s how I wore the Sunny out later in the day. I’m glad it works with a baggier bottom half as well as slim (these are RTW Monki jeans), and of course it matches my coat!

Bonus kitty snuggle, another winter essential <3

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

Iceland meets Kyoto

This was a fun wee project! Contrado, a London-based print on demand factory which I visited a while back, recently gave me some budget to make a new pattern and have it printed on whatever fabric I liked. Luckily I’d just returned from a quick holiday to Iceland, and being up on a glacier really reminded me of fabric prints – Liberty’s Manning springs to mind, which was literally also inspired by glacial landscapes. Here I am on said glacier and some of the pictures I took which acted as print-spiration:

I followed this tutorial to create a repeat pattern from one of my photos, and the file below is the one I entered into Contrado‘s online tool, from which you can set up scale and repeat styles.

I chose the Vintage loop-back sweatshirt fabric, a cosy and stable knit with an off-white base, a poly front side and cotton looped back. I was super pleased when I received the fabric a week or so later, it looks just how I imagined it and apart from a slight chemical smell that dispersed in the pre-wash you’d think it was any regular printed fabric.

I sewed it up into a Papercut Kyoto sweater, minus the cute sleeve ruffles, as I thought a simple sweatshirt would show off the print the best, and I only had 1.5m to play with.

Not a lot to say about the construction, it was super easy and the only fitting amend I made was to shorten the body and sleeves by a couple of inches each. This sort of drop-shoulder style isn’t really the most flattering on me to be honest, but for a cosy sweatshirt I don’t really care!

The fabrics I had printed through Contrado over a year ago are still holding up super well with repeated washing, by the way – I still wear my emoji Inari and Olivia dress a lot, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to get some more made, and end up with a cool wearable holiday souvenir. Thanks Contrado!

A hacky Named outfit

A new little summery outfit of two simple separates, both of which are hacked from Named patterns that I’ve sewn before.

The trousers are the Ninni culottes, sewn up in a lush indigo crinkle rayon that the Fabric Store kindly sent to me. The only thing I changed from my first pair was to convert the pockets from side seam into front yoked. I just can’t stand the way side seam pockets add bulk and flap around, and these yoked ones are actually much easier to prep and sew so it’s win-win. Here’s a quick tute; you can prepare paper pieces or cut these straight onto your fabric.

1. Cut a rectangle for the pocket bag/facing, approximately 16″ wide by 11″ long. The width will be 2x the width of the final pocket bag and the length will be the final length of the pocket.
2. Lay the rectangle on top of your front trouser piece, right sides together and matching the side seam and waistline to the rectangle edges. Cut a curved or straight line through both pieces at the trouser side seam edge. This will be the pocket opening. Mine starts about 3″ in from the edge at the top and is 7″ long.
3. Sew this pocket opening seam using a small (5mm or so) seam allowance. Clip if necessary to release curves, press seam allowances to the pocket facing piece, and understitch.
4. Fold the pocket bag in half, lining up with the trouser waistline and side seam. Sew and finish the bottom edge of the pocket bag, then baste the top and sides to the front trouser leg. Construct the rest of the pattern as written.

The blouse is a rather more extreme hack of the Reeta shirt dress. I wonder when a pattern stops being a hack and becomes essentially a self-draft?! To make this kimono-sleeved blouse from the dress pattern I:

· Merged the back yoke onto the back body piece
· Altered the shoulder seam so it wasn’t forward-facing (took some off the back piece and added to the front)
· Extended the shoulder line to create grown-on cap sleeves
· Drafted a new back facing piece to finish the back neckline
· Left off the collar piece as I did with my previous dress
· Rotated/closed the front bust dart down into added ease, which I then trimmed away from the side seam
· Cut the body and facings off about 14″ below the underarm

I’m considering this a wearable toile, as this space-print fabric (from The Textile Centre) was an impulse buy that isn’t really in my usual style stratosphere but I just couldn’t resist it. Next time I’ll raise the kimono sleeve line an extra half-inch or so as they’re a little bit snug. Otherwise I think this hack came out rather cute, and it didn’t take very long despite the amount of steps. I was sort of more in the mood for drafting than sewing so it was a nice project to try out some advanced hacking.


Faux jumpsuit

Oooh, this weekend’s project is one of my favourites for a while. It’s a fake jumpsuit, i.e. actually separates made up in the same fabric – Named’s Ninni culottes mashed up with Grainline’s Tiny Pocket Tank.


I wasn’t going to buy the Ninni pattern as it’s so simple and I’ve hacked this sort of wide elastic-waist pant before, but I just love their drafting and it was only 10 euros for the PDF. I was glad for the purchase as everything about the drafting is just right for me: the rise, width, waistband etc. I’m happy to pay 10 euros for someone else to deliver me what I want!

Sewing them up was fast and easy, except the part where I dozily sewed the back to back and front to front at the side seams instead of a back to a front, and had to unpick it all, on BOTH legs. Don’t sew when hungover, kids.

I was going to be extra-lazy and graft the leg pieces together as the outer side seam is pretty much straight, but decided I wanted the inseam pockets. I’ve tacked across the pocket top and bottom to try and keep them facing forwards.

The Tiny Pocket pattern doesn’t seem to be available any more; it was Grainline’s first-ever downloadable pattern and I assume the Willow tank has replaced it in the line-up. It’s a real nice well-drafted basic so I’m glad to have it in my PDF stash.

Guts shot; I’m proud I got the binding so neat and flat because this fabric was so difficult to press. I actually self-drafted an all-in-one facing but didn’t have enough fabric left to cut it and no suitable plain stash fabric; there was only just enough left to cut a few bias strips! I sewed the armhole binding flat before French-seaming the side seams, and the neckline binding was done in the round.

The fabric is a poly crepe from Minerva Crafts. Their description of it is spot on: it’s a dream to sew with (apart from not taking a press very well), has a little comfy stretch, is pretty much opaque but very lightweight with a wonderful drape. I love it! I got my culottes and top out of the two metres with very little scraps to spare.

I’m thrilled with these separates; I can see myself wearing them all summer both together and mixed up with other garments.

Ogden camis, and a different construction method

It’s been deliciously warm in London this last week, with more nice weather forecast. A good chance to dig out the True Bias Ogden cami pattern and make use of some remnants I’ve bought lately.

I first made this dress version in some great stretch cotton-viscose that I bought from the Cloth House Camden warehouse shop just this last week. I got the last metre on the roll which was just enough to lengthen the Ogden into a mini dress. To do that I just extended the side seams down by about 9″ (the total length armsyce to hem is 24″) maintaining the flared angle. I’ve been after a basic black slip for ages and I think it’ll work well with a tee underneath when the weather inevitably dips again.

I made another one pretty quickly in this adorable cat-print polyester remnant that I got in Tokyo. I refined the fit a little bit around the top; basically darting out a bit of gaping on both the front and back. I also came up with a revised construction method which I think is a little faster and easier than the the instructions, so I took some photos and wrote up how I did it below. It’s quite similar to my facing tutorial in that the front and back are constructed before sewing them into the ’round’. Here we go – sorry the photos aren’t very good but shout if you have a question.

Complete steps 1-3 to staystitch and create/baste the straps. (…Except I don’t staystitch or baste, because I am a REBEL.) Now instead of sewing the side seams next, pin and sew the front facing to the front bodice across the top edge, securing the straps in the process.

Trim, clip and understitch per the instructions.

Now, lay out and layer up the pieces as follows: back facing right side facing UP; the loose strap ends (attached to the front bodice) right sides facing UP; back bodice, right side DOWN. Again you could baste the straps to the back only here first but I just deal with all three layers at once.

Pin, sew, and trim/clip/understitch the top edge just like the front. Turn right side out and give it all a good press – you’ll have a funny side-seam-less cami joined by the straps as above. Now is a good time to finish the lower facing edges – I just pinked mine – and to add a label to the back facing, as otherwise it’s hard to tell which way round to wear it!

Now to finish the side seams: open up the facing again so the right sides touch. Pin and sew the bodice and facing as one long side seam.

Finish the seam as desired, snip a notch where the facing and bodice meet to reduce bulk, and press seams open.

Turn out, press and ditch-stitch the facing down to the side seam to keep it in place. Alternatively, you could also treat the facing and bodice as one and do a French seam, catching both layers and meaning the facing gets anchored into the side seam. Hem the bottom and you’re good to go!