Upcoming plans, and thoughts on capsules

Long time no sew. I’m having a bit of a dry, introspective patch with my sewing lately. It got kicked off by getting a new wardrobe recently, which necessitated getting all my clothes out and dumping them in my sewing room for a week while the new one was installed.

I didn’t have physical space to sew for one thing, plus being surrounded by my clothes forced me to confront the amount I own and consider how I can balance my desire to keep sewing with the fact that I really only want to make garments that my wardrobe needs and I know I’ll love and wear often.

Yeah, that old chestnut again, eh?!

Admittedly I don’t actually have tons of clothes perhaps compared to others – I have one half of a smallish wardrobe which holds everything – but still feel increasingly uncomfortable with owning more than I need.

As I carefully sorted and hung things back in the new wardrobe (with colour-coded hangers, thanks for noticing) it made me realise I really like the idea of having a much smaller choice. It makes getting dressed much easier: when I was in the midst of everything-everywhere chaos I found I would automatically reach for my top ten garments almost unthinkingly. The old 80-20 rule in full effect.

There’s a million and one thinkpieces about how to create a capsule wardrobe (and I have a Pinterest board dedicated to the concept), but I found the steps and advice in this article pretty useful to think about.

It begs questions like: What are those pieces I reach for all the time? What’s common about them? Can I combine them to make easy outfits? How can I make more things like these, without making the exact same thing again for the sake of it? How do I keep up sewing while not needlessly making clothing I don’t want or need?

The above is a collage of the garments which I do love and end up grabbing day after day, and it’s not hard to see a pattern, right?

Dark colours (with the odd pop of pale or pastel), tied or high waists, sparse, sketchy prints and drapey fabrics are clearly my jam. Clothes that are comfortable and well-made in lovely fabrics always float to the top.


[All sources on Pinterest]

Of course, sewing still needs to be fun too! I’ve really missed being at my machine the last month or so, and with spring not too far away I’ve been starting to squirrel away ideas for the new season. The solution I’m going to test out is being even more considered in the garments I pick to sew, and aiming for longer projects where I perhaps try new skills or really labour over the little details I am often too lazy to invest in. That way I get to enjoy precious sewing time while still building well-made and needed items into my closet.

That’s the plan anyway, and these are some ideas on the next few garments I think would be great additions to my carefully-edited wardrobe.

1. Another Helmi dress, maybe one plain and one print.
2. Casual mini tee-dress, maybe another Inari.
3. Pull-on big pocket trousers, probably self-drafted
4. Windowpane check peg trousers – I have the fabric and pattern earmarked for this.
5. A spring-weight coat. I have the Orageuse Londres in mind, in a tencel or cupro. Not sure if I’ll go for pink or a maybe more classic navy.
6. Midi length knit sheath dress, might hack the Trend knot-front dress.
7. Button-up blouse/tee (maybe with sleeves) in a silk noil or linen; New Look 6250
8. Nice plain jumpsuit, Butterick 6312
9. More wide-leg pants, either Landers or high-waist Ginger flares.


[All sources on Pinterest]

Finally, here’s a little moodboard to help out with my idea on cohesion, colours and silhouettes. I think I already do pretty well on picking out naturally cohesive projects, but it’s always useful to have a little reference board.

Is anyone else thinking about this stuff? Am I overthinking things?! I just finished a lovely spring-facing project which really got me back in love with sewing, so I promise it won’t be a month between posts again!

Foreman, for my man

I’ve started the year with an uncharacteristically selfless sew. Well, sort of, since I promised this to Josh before Christmas and it’s only just finished…

Josh had been after a navy twill workman style jacket for ages and couldn’t quite find what he was after in the shops. I showed him the Merchant and Mills Foreman pattern which fitted the bill pretty closely, though I had to make a few adjustments to get it completely on brief.


After making a toile (an essential step in this case) we made a few resulting alterations for fit and preference. I added a little width to the shoulder, took a chunk of ease out of the sleeve cap, and raised up the bottom of the armsyce a little. This was a bit fiddly with the two piece sleeve but I’m super pleased with the resultant hang and range of motion in the arm. We nipped in the waist a touch to make it less boxy and rounded off the collar/straightened the centre front curve too.


I was really happy with the pattern overall (which I bought locally from Ray Stitch); the instructions are particularly great with nice clear diagrams and the drafting is solid. Definitely recommended if you have a man to sew for, and it’s reminded me to re-check out the patterns in their book which I own. It was a very enjoyable sew, quite simple and speedy as outerwear goes even with the alterations and being extra careful with my topstitching and finishing as it was for someone else (I’m much more slapdash when it’s for me, anyone else the same?!).

One big difference from the pattern is that Josh requested a warmer coat, which meant adding a lining. The Foreman pattern is unlined but has straightforward construction and nice deep facings so it was quite easy to draft lining pieces from the existing pattern by subtracting the facings from the front and back pieces, then adding seam allowances. I did a standard machine bagging, turning through a hole left in the sleeve lining.

All the fabrics came from MyFabrics or Stoff and Stil: cotton twill for the outer, faux sheepskin for the body lining and quilted acetate for the sleeve lining. Luckily I’d recently had experience dealing with fluffy faux fur on my own coat so I found it quite easy to use it for the lining. It’s on quite a substantial velour backing so gives the coat plenty of warmth and a bit of nice structure too.


Josh loves the finished coat and was very appreciative. It’s become his everyday coat and has already had a couple of weeks road-testing, so it’s starting to look nice and lived-in. He’s particularly fond of the deep pockets, perfect for stashing his Kindle, wallet and/or booze. He’s been a truly super boyfriend lately so it was nice to do a little thing for him in return. In fact I don’t really need many new clothes for myself at the moment so I’ve offered to make him a couple of shirts and tees, and he’s requested some chinos – so watch this space for more man-sewing.

M7445 the second and third

I just made my third pair of McCall 7445 pants, so thought I’d bundle in pair 2 that never got blogged because I love em a lot and it might be interesting to see versions in quite different fabrics. Here’s pair one in needlecord, by the way still much loved and worn.

McCall 7445 is such a great pattern! It’s a Melissa Palmer design and includes extra large seam allowances, a sheet of fitting tips, and a construction that lets you check and tune the fit as you go. Even though I’ve made it three times I still baste and try on as I go because different fabrics can fit differently. I’ve also gained a little weight recently (thanks, Christmas) so perhaps made use of that extra allowance in this pair.

For pair 3 I used a stretch denim that I got as part of my December ambassador allowance from The Fabric Store. This is a fab quality medium weight denim with a slightly nubbly texture and a little comfy stretch. I added one inch to the length on this pair so they’re just ankle-skimming and more appropriate for winter when worn with fun socks and sneakers.


I went a bit rogue with this and the pair below and made a closed front with a centre-back invisible zip to fasten. The pattern views include an exposed front zip or faux-fly front but I like the completely flat front – super comfortable and zero digging in of anything. One tip I’d say if you make view B is to stabilise that waist edge when you sew on the facing. There’s no waistband to keep things snug, which makes for a very comfortable fit but leaves it more susceptible to stretching out. I simply slip some cotton twill tape into the seam as I’m sewing the facing onto the waistline.


This is the second pair, which are one of my favourite things I made last year. They use a mystery fabric that I got as a remnant from Misan Textiles on Berwick Street. Misan is pretty pricey but you can get some great deals on the pre-cut lengths in the basement! It’s difficult to describe; it’s like a very heavy crepe with a slightly spongy sort of feel like a scuba, and a tiny bit of stretch. It doesn’t crease in the slightest and they feel wonderfully luxurious to wear, especially in the cold. And the colour is brilliant! I guess I should give this pattern a rest for a bit now as my trouser drawer literally overfloweth, but it’s certainly earned its TNT status.

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!)

Space Kyoto

I feel like I’ve been having a bit more fun with sewing lately. Case in point, this sweater with all the shiny and ruffles thrown at it!

The first part of this project came about when i meet up with the lovely Jess on her recent trip to the UK, and dutifully took her to my wonderful local fabric store, Ray Stitch. Jess got some excellent sweatshirt knit and striped denim and since I can never leave there empty handed I picked up a few of these sparkly space embellishments for £1.50 each. (Some are in their online store, but not the stars.)

[Image sources on my Pinterest]

I’ve been a bit obsessed with space print stuff for quite a while now and have quite the little collection of moon’n’star-festooned clothing, along with quite a large wish/inspiration list. Some of it can run quite pricey so it’s the ideal candidate for ‘DIY instead of buy’.

Luckily I’d just made my pick of fabrics for my December Fabric Store ambassador allowance, amongst which was a black merino-mix sweatshirting that was calling out to be bedecked with shiny things. I’d call this fabric a French terry more than true sweatshirting; it has a smooth front side and loopy back and isn’t too thick, so it was a great candidate both for these iron-ons and for my choice of pattern, the Papercut Kyoto sweater.

I made the Kyoto up as before, with an inch or so of length taken out of both the body and sleeves. This time I added the fun ruffles to the sleeves, which worked really nicely in this medium weight knit. I simply overlocked the raw edge of the ruffles rather than hemming to keep them airy and drapey.

I ironed the embellishments on right at the start, after cutting but before construction. I placed them on the front of the sweater fairly randomly, used a bit of washi tape to stick them down then pressed a hot iron over the back of each patch for ten seconds. They feel very well stuck down and hopefully they will launder ok.

I’ve been gently encouraging myself to get more into sewing in the evenings again, and this was a perfect post-work fun and relaxing sort of sew, which was done in under two hours. I’m thrilled with how this sweater turned out. It’s a little bit novelty and silly but also highly wearable and of course perfect for this festive time of year.

Fabric provided by The Fabric Store as part of their ambassador program.

Fur Yona

Another coat project for a snowy day! This was a real impulse sew and perhaps a bit trend-led, but I really wanted a fluffy coat to call my own after seeing them on some of my friends and general cool girls around London and Instagram. Plus my Freemantle is a bit statement-y so I wanted a plainer and shorter coat for some variation.

I was tempted to buy a new pattern – the Oslo, Marcelle and Silvia were all contenders – but decided to rad my stash instead and reuse the Named Yona pattern which I made two winters ago. I do still really like that first Yona but the more tailored-looking finish doesn’t seem to be so much my style any more. Luckily it’s a real chameleon sort of pattern depending on fabric type so you wouldn’t really even think they were the same base pattern.


I used a faux-sherpa fur fabric from Minerva which is sold out in black but still available in some other shades. The wide lapels are perfect for a few of my favourite pins, which help it read more indiekid than P Diddy, ha ha.

The lining is a simple plain black viscose also from Minerva. Practice really does make perfect and this is my nicest bagged lining insertion yet.

The fur fabric is, as accurately described, quite stretchy and drapey so after consulting Instagram I decided to block-fuse it before cutting for my coat. If you haven’t come across the term before, block-fusing is where you iron interfacing onto your entire yardage before cutting out the pieces. I used a high quality knit interfacing from English Couture. The ironing process was tiresome as hell and took ages, but definitely gave the fabric a much more appropriate heft and handle will still retaining its softness. The coat feels really secure and like it will hold its shape for a good time so it was worth the effort.

A few other tips I found worked well for this fluffbomb fabric:

  • I made sure to line everything up in the same direction, with the nap running downwards, as the fabric has a slight directional pile.
  • I found the easiest cutting technique was to fold my fabric with the wrong side facing out, pin the paper pieces in place then cut with my rotary.
  • After cutting I shook each piece to remove most of the loose fluff then vacuumed it all up before I started sewing. I was advised on Instagram that a spin in the dryer removes all the excess effectively, but I didn’t try this.
  • I used pins instead of snipping notches as they would have got totally lost in the pile.
  • After sewing seams I trimmed them down and pressed open first from the wrong side (with a cloth to protect the interfacing) then gave a shot of steam from the right side and pressed a clapper over it. I don’t have a proper clapper, but my sleeve board works weirdly well for this purpose! Then I fluffed the pile back up and brushed it over the seam.
  • I used a walking foot to deal with the bulk and prevent the layers shifting, and used wonder clips instead of pins.
  • As my fabric maintained a slight stretch, I selected a zigzag stitch to prevent seams from potentially popping.

Luckily having sewn the Yona pattern before, as well as another coat recently, the sewing itself went really fast. The entire project was finished in one day, which might sound a bit mad but the Yona is actually a rather simple coat overall with no fastenings, easy-to-set raglan sleeves and patch pockets, and really good instructions for bagging out the lining, so I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a first or speedy outerwear project.

I adore how this coat turned out! I only wish I had firstly made the pockets a bit bigger so I can dig my hands properly into them (my Freemantle has huge pockets and I basically use them as a glove substitute) and retrospectively I might have thought about extending out the centre front into a little overlap so I could add a snap fastening or two. Nonetheless it’s extremely cosy and warm, so I look forward to rotating both coats throughout this winter.