Winslow Culottes


I realised I hadn’t blogged my Winslow Culottes, despite having made two pairs now and considering both of them absolute staples for holidays/sunshine. So here goes! Continue reading “Winslow Culottes”


Sew Over It Coco Jacket No. 2


For the first time ever, I made the same pattern twice, literally back to back.

I was so happy with my first Sew Over It Coco Jacket that I went straight on to make another one from a black Linton Tweed wool that I’d been holding onto for exactly this purpose.

Continue reading “Sew Over It Coco Jacket No. 2”

Sorell Trousers

So, a couple of weeks ago I was happily and innocently flicking through my Instagram feed when I saw a really lovely pair of trousers posted by @rocco.sienna. Monika had made them from a gorgeous pink linen-look crepe and the pattern was the Sorell Trousers by Pauline Alice patterns. I think I had downloaded the pdf within about thirty seconds of seeing Monika’s pink trousers – and I knew just what fabric to use.

Before long, I had a great pair of work trousers to show for my efforts!


Pattern Review

Fabric: a medium weight wool from Sew Over It. It has a lovely herringbone weave and I had been eyeing it up for weeks, trying to decide whether it was ‘me’ or not and whether it would look good in person. By the time I decided to go for it, they were down to the last 1.5 meters. I ordered it, planning to make a pair of ‘cigarette pant’ trousers, and when it came I was kicking myself for not having ordered it sooner so I could have bought enough for a matching jacket. It is lovely. Lesson learned.

Sizing/Alterations: My measurements came up between a 38 and a 40 for the waist, and between a 36 and a 38 for the hips. Somehow I decided, based on the finished measurements, to make my initial toile a size 36.

As you can see, it was a touch on the tight side:

I decided that I needed to go with a size 38 waist, size 36 hip, and I also decided to grade down to a size 34 for the body of the leg, because although I like the idea of a wide leg trouser, I’m also wary of getting lost in too much fabric if they’re really really wide. Plus I somehow feel that for the office, less is more – and I was definitely thinking of work trousers with this pattern.

I also concluded, from the ‘smiley’ wrinkles at the crotch point that I needed a bit more length to it. I adjusted my pattern pieces with a slash and spread technique, inserting about half an inch to the front. On the back pattern piece I raised the centre back point and seam by about half an inch because it dipped somewhat the toile.

Instructions: The instructions were nice and clear, with the possible exception of the fly front construction. It’s more likely to be because it was my first time sewing one, but I found it quite tricky and got it completely wrong at first. Luckily Pauline Alice have a sew along on their site (gotta love a sew along!) which broke it down into greater detail, with lots of pictures.

Difficulty: On the whole I think trousers are usually a quick and simple project. These ones are slightly more complex because you also have lots of pockets, and the fly front. But these are more time consuming than difficult. If you haven’t sewn welt pockets before, it’s worth taking your time over that part, but the instructions made them nice and simple.

Would I recommend, or sew it again?: I don’t even know why I still have this question on my template as the answer is always yes! This one will be in the next few weeks though, as I can’t wait for a black pair. My sister’s also requested a pair so we’ll see if that gets done soon too!

Black tie gown – Vogue 2251

Happy New Year to you all! Hope the new year brings lots of joy and sewing, sewing friends 🙂

Today I’m finally blogging my last make of 2016, a lace and satin gown I made for my firm’s black tie Christmas party. I’m really pleased with how it turned out and a couple of people on Instagram wanted more details so I thought it might be worth a blog post!

Here’s how it turned out:

Pattern Review

Pattern: Vogue 2251 by Vera Wang (out of print)

Fabric: A sparkly gold lace underlined with a pale silk satin, for the bodice (both from Goldhawk Road) and a mink-coloured satin from Jersey Vogue in north London for the skirt. I used the same satin as the skirt for the neck binding. 

Here’s a better view of the lace (before final pressing of that centre waist seam!):

Sizing/Alterations: I cut a size 12 and tweaked the side seams of the hip by sewing up the lining first and pinning to fit, then transferring to the pattern before cutting the main skirt satin. The bodice was also a 12 but required a bit more taking in down the side.
I also adjusted the skirt to exaggerate the mermaid shape. I brought the side seams in about an inch at the knees and then blended back to the original side seam above and below. You can kind of see the effect in the back view photo above.

The most challenging alteration was the bodice because it’s actually drafted for a knit fabric, unlike the skirt. I guessed at converting a section of ease in the armhole into a dart by cutting and overlapping until it seemed to make a good cup. I was very naughty and didn’t make a toile, but the tissue fit seemed like it would be fine and I was short on time. Next time I will toile and figure out better shaping at the side seam for the bodice as although this wasn’t gaping, it ended up coming up slightly short at the sides for my strapless bra (which I hadn’t thought to try on with it during the tissue fitting) so I was a bit self-conscious of that and fiddled with it a bit all night.

I also decided to raise the skirt up as the waistline seemed slightly low on first fitting, but I think I raised it a bit too much on the finished product – the hem was about an inch too short in front (the back hem is lower) and to me it cuts me off slightly too high across the waistline now. Here’s where it sat originally and in hindsight I prefer that fit:

But really, these ‘snags’ didn’t stop me feeling fantastic in the dress at the party and it was very well received.
I think I also used the original pattern piece for the binding, even though it was meant for knit fabric, because the measurement suggested it would work in a woven too.

Instructions: The instructions were nice and clear, I don’t remember having any issues with them.

Difficulty: The pattern itself isn’t difficult. All my difficulties came from my fabric choice (underlining the lace, which I don’t think I did well enough because I was altering the bodice after the original underlining, and then the fact that it was woven etc).

It did call for a hand-picked zip, which I tried to keep neat and strong. Below is my first pass at it, I then went over the waist seam point again to try to close that gap a little but forgot to take another picture of the improvement, sorry! 

Other thoughts: I tried to use my narrow hem foot for the first time, on the satin. Let’s just say either it’s not suitable for this kind of dress-weight satin or I need a lot more practise first. In the end I overlocked, turned once, and stitched with a straight stitch. I had no time for hand stitching lol.

(I didn’t finish the internal seams because it’s fully lined. And I was short on time. And lazy.)

You fuse the ‘armscye’ of the bodice for extra support, but I realised a little too late that I’d need white fusible interfacing, and I only had black. My lining wasn’t quite able to hide my error here:

Time taken: with more straightforward fabric I think this would have been a really quick sew. As it is, I worked on it over the course of two weeks (because I can only sew for an hour or so at night on weeknights.. and some nights I fell asleep instead lol). I think it could be done in a day, with time to spare.

Would I recommend it, or sew it again?: I was actually really pleased with the outcome and got a lot of compliments at the party, so I will definitely make another version of this at some point, although I’m more likely to use the skirt than do the bodice again. I would love to pair the skirt from this pattern with the top half of this dress I came across on Pinterest [image rights on bottom of the picture].

Schnittchen Coco jacket

Wow, I haven’t done a blog post in forever!! Life has been very hectic of late. I’ve missed this, though, and have been squeezing in little bits of sewing with multiple projects on the go, so it felt sooo good to finally finish one!
Pattern Review

Pattern: Coco Jacket by Scnittchen  

Fabric: a medium weight wool, lined with sandwashed silk, both from Goldhawk Road. I got the last 1.4m of the wool and it hurts my soul that there wasn’t any more! The pictures don’t capture it, but it’s a lovely olive green/black combination weave. The silk was actually intended for an Ogden Cami, but it was on top of the wool in my cupboard and when I saw how nice they looked together, I simply had to use it here.

Sizing/Alterations: I sewed a size 36 and was pleasantly surprised by how well the muslin fit. The only alteration was to take  a couple of small darts out of the back neckline, which is becoming a standard alteration for me.

Instructions: the instructions were clear enough for me, although this is not my first time making a jacket. It’s not my fiftieth either though, so if you’re a confident beginner it would be a nice one to start with as it’s a relatively simple style. There’s also a photo tutorial which helps if you want to check any steps or just use that instead of the instructions.

Oh, and the pattern is based on a 3/8″ seam allowance, smaller than the usual 5/8″. I had made up a muslin and my wool was stable, so I just went with it, and it was actually fine. But I’m planning a version with a loosely woven Linton fabric so will probably cut wider seam allowances on that one!

I decided to try something new and put a bit of contrast flat piping between the lining and the facing of the jacket, and I LOVE the result! I had read a tutorial ages ago on how to do it, and when it popped into my head to use on this project, I thought, why not?! I wasn’t sure about the colour of the contrast bit when I laid it on the fabric and lining, but I think it works well on the finished product.

Difficulty: you can do it!! It’s less effort than a tailored jacket but still a lovely jacket at the end of it!

Would I recommend, or sew it again?: I’ve already started cutting out another and have a black one with long sleeves in mind too! Definitely recommend.

StyleArc Etta in Malhia Kent

I was looking for a panelled skirt pattern the other day, and as soon as I saw the Etta Skirt by Style Arc Patterns, I knew she was just the sort of thing I wanted.

After A recent Paris trip, I’d acquired a little stash of Malhia Kent woven fabrics in awkward/small offcuts, which I’m on a mission to incorporate into my next few projects. For this skirt I used one that’s a silver/metallic mixed with black, teal and grey threads. It’s pretty thick, so I paired it with a fairly thick black boucle wool from Linton Tweeds.

Pattern Review

Fabric: a combination of wools as described above.

Sizing/Alterations: I sewed a size 8. I had reviewed the measurements on the pattern and made a couple of alterations mainly to give me more width in the front waist and less in the back, due to swayback and a persistent post-baby tummy situation. I also lengthened the pattern by 4 inches as I prefer my work skirts to fall below the knee. When I had stitched everything up, I found that the flounce side inserts were too stiff – a combination of the thick wool and the bias bound hem, I think – so I ended up stitching a little tuck/pleat in the middle of each one. The suggested fabrics are much lighter than what I’ve used, but anyway this gave them a nice shape and I’ll have to see how it holds up.

Instructions: StyleArc’s instructions seem pretty minimal, I think they are intended for more experienced sewers, but that said, I managed without any difficulty and I don’t think I had to Google anything. There was one part, in dealing with the hem where the straight section of the skirt meets the flounce insert, where the only reason I knew what they were talking about is that Id done something similar on another pattern, but I think you could have worked it out by trial and error.

Oh, and the pattern is based on a 3/8″ seam allowance, smaller than the usual 5/8″. With my thick and fairly loosely woven wools, I was nervous about this, so when I cut my fabric I eyeballed extra to give myself a 5/8″ seam allowance.

Difficulty: the pattern is rated Medium/Challenging. I think I’d agree, maybe more medium than challenging but I guess it depends on whether you happen to have sewn anything which uses a similar technique to the one they used for the flounce inserts.

Would I recommend, or sew it again?: Yep, I would definitely recommend it. In theory I’d like to sew it again, but it’s quite distinctive so I probably wouldn’t have two of these on the go in my work wardrobe at the same time :). I would do one in a lightweight suiting/drapey fabric for spring/summer though and keep this one for autumn/winter. It’s super cosy so I look forward to wearing it once the weather turns.

Happy sewing!

– Michelle –

Sew Over It Francine jacket – part two

Also known as, the big reveal! So, here’s the jacket:

In part one of this post, I reviewed the first two weeks of the Sew Over It Francine jacket class, so this is just a wrap up post and a chance to show you the finished product!

The third and final class was focused on the insides and building up the necessary support before closing out the lining. Julie showed us how to insert a wadding sleeve head to round out the sleeves at the shoulders, and then how to position and insert the shoulder pads. 

Next up we attached the lining and did  various bits of hand stitching to stabilise the inner seam allowances and secure the lining to the jacket at key points. That’s about as much as we were able to finish in class, so Julie spent the last fifteen minutes taking us through the last bits of hand stitching that would be required to finish the jacket. We did have the printed instructions and picture booklets to refer to, but it was still nerve-wracking finishing the jacket off without Julie’s demonstrations and supervision!

As recommended, I took the jacket along to DM Buttons in Soho, where for 10 minutes of my time and a mere £6 (!), I got four covered buttons and three professional bound keyhole buttons on my jacket! 


I managed to resist trying to sew the buttons on on the commute to work, but it was a close call!
Before I knew it, she was all done and I quite happily wore her into work the next time I was due in the office.

I had been worried that she would be too warm since I had to underline the lightweight rayon I used for the lining, but I was super comfortable in my Francine all day long. Our air conditioning is always high so even on a hot summers day outside, the office is a bit chilly, so with a sleeveless cami it was perfect.

I’m already planning another Francine, with pockets and maybe a notched collar. The best thing is that I have a pattern with Julie’s expert fitting adjustments so I will probably be coming back to this pattern again and again as I build out my homemade working wardrobe.

If you’re on the fence about taking this class, buying the pattern (if it has been released!) or taking a similar tailored jacket class, I’d definitely say to go for it. I’ve bought suit jackets that cost more than the class and didn’t fit me half as well, and always ended up giving them away as I simply didn’t like them enough to wear them much. But something tells me they’ll be seeing a lot of my Francine at the office from now on 🙂

– Michelle –

Seamwork Addison top


Seamwork Addison

 Pattern review

Pattern: Seamwork Addison Tank Top

: Navy/white rayon-cotton poplin from Mood Fabrics and a basic white cotton lawn for the collar.

Sizing: I cut a size 0.

Alterations: None on this, but next time I make it I need to move the bust darts down slightly and I’ll probably push the shoulder seam up by 1.5″ as the way that it sits most comfortably on me, the shoulder seam sits lowered onto the front bodice by about that much.

Instructions: as usual for Colette/Seamwork, the instructions were clearand straightforward, with lots of helpful diagrams. The facing was attached with the burrito method, which was nerve-wracking as it always feels like I’m doing it wrong, until the last minute when it’s pulled out and looks perfect!

Difficulty: the burrito method was the only tricky bit to this pattern, it was pretty plain sailing.

Time taken: I did it in one day, in bits and pieces when the boys were napping/preoccupied. If I had the luxury of a day to myself, it would probably only have taken 2-3 hours of cutting, interfacing and sewing. Seamwork reckons it takes one hour, but I think I’m slow 🙂 Assembling the PDF took more time than construction of the top.

Would I recommend it?: I think I might take this question off my “review” template because so far I’ve not made up a pattern that I wouldn’t recommend.. But I do love this one, too! As they noted, although at its heart this is a basic tank, the collar makes it much more polished and suddenly something that I’d happily wear to work where I might not wear a basic cami. It’s roomy and hip-length so has a nice profile over skinny jeans but also looks nice tucked in for work.

Sew Over It – Francine Jacket: Part One

I may have mentioned once or twice on this blog that I’m focusing my sewing on my working wardrobe for the time being. I’m really pleased to have been able to make some great blouses, skirts and trousers, and the last remaining wardrobe gap for me is a well fitted jacket.  Continue reading “Sew Over It – Francine Jacket: Part One”