Category Archives: Tops

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!

Chevron Sloane

Finally in my house in daylight hours again to take some photos! I have been sewing away at some some fairly relaxing and fast-gratification projects in December, and I’m extra pleased with this one because it used entirely scraps from other projects.

The pattern is the Named Sloan sweatshirt. I’ve been looking for a basic set-in sleeve sweatshirt pattern for ages and completely forgot Named had this one until I saw Catherine post one on Instagram.

To use up my awkward sized scraps I cut both the front and back into two pieces, creating a chevron shaped V on both. On the front piece I thought I’d be clever and rotate the French dart into the seamline… but then managed to cut two of the lower back piece instead of a front and didn’t have enough to re-cut. It still fitted in place fine but it think it’s causing the slight diagonal drag marks from bust to hem. Otherwise no alterations and like all Named patterns I’m delighted with the drafting and fit.

Can you identify the three previous projects that donated their leftovers? The cuffs and hem came from my Joni track pants, the grey is the other side of the Fabric Store sweatshirting I made a Sunny out of, and the fuzzy black is from my coat. I’m really pleased to have these scraps out of my sewing room and into such a cosy and wearable garment. (p.s. worn here with my Landers, firm favourite pants!)

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.