Category Archives: Sewing

My Handmade Wardrobe

Spring has begun to spring here in the UK and I have very much had spring cleaning fever (by that I mean clearing out all the junk that none of us needs). It started off as quite fun but I am now at the point where I have had enough and the house still does not quite look like I would like it to. Hey HO, I shall persevere.

With As part of my Spring clean I decided to tackle my clothes. To be honest I am a bit fed up with my clothes. I don’t know whether it is an age thing or I have not updated recently but I just don’t feel excited by many of my outfits now. Sorting through them I did notice that I have a lot of greeny/browny coloured clothes. I always thought that I was quite a colourful person but it seems not. This is something that I will have to consciously address over the next few months.

I did sort out quite a few things to get rid of (including some smelly running tops that my husband will be so pleased to see the back of). As May is rapidly approaching along with the challenge started by Zoe called me-made-May  where you pledge to wear your handmade and upcycled clothes as much as you  declare, I decided to take photos of the things that  I have made so that I can truly see what clothes I have ready for the May challenge. (Last year I thought that I would have made loads by now…..)


This was my first ever knitted item that I made when I was a teenager. It is incredibly warm and only worn when I want a bit of comfort.


This poncho was the first item I made on my return to knitting.


This Angel wings ‘Bolero’ is a favourite of mine. Nice and warm but not too bulky.


This falling leaves jumper looks amazing on.


This is a wrap dress that is the first item of clothing I made from cloth as an adult.


My first pair of trousers.


A jersey top.

I also have 2 pairs of socks, a scarf and three shawls. I wear the shawls the most.

At the end of last year I thought that I would manage to make 1 item of clothing a month. I have failed on this target so far although I have a cardigan that is nearly finished (buttons and ends) and another one well on its way. I also have the pieces cut out for another jersey top so if I get my skates on, I am not that far off my target after all……I have just not finished one a month.




I have been so busy crafting there has been very little time for blogging! I do now have a lot to share with you now. 🙂 The first thing that I am going to share with you is the first item of clothing that I have made recently (ie the last 20 odd years!):

The 'finished' leggings.

The ‘finished’ leggings.

I have put finished in inverted commas because they are not finished (the ends are not sewn in etc).

To be honest I struggled with these. The leggings above are actually the second pair I attempted as the first were even worse!

I am not going to share the pattern that I used with you because I don’t want to mislead you. I am absolutely sure that there is nothing wrong with the pattern and everything wrong with me. I know this because I have since successfully made another pattern from the same source!

Although I have said that the fault lays with me I have got some excuses. The first, (and probably the main) is the material that I have used. Being meant for working out it needs to be stretchy – in 4 different ways. This in itself comes with its own problems:

Can you see the puckering just behind the side seem?

Can you see the puckering just behind the side seam?

This (so I believe) is a result of me over stretching the material as I sewed it.

Having since made another exercise piece I now think that the material I used for this project was not as good quality as I would ideally have liked. I bought this over the internet which meant that I couldn’t actually feel it before I bought it. It seems quite thin. Maybe I am clutching at straws and simply making excuses?

I also think that I was maybe a bit ambitious with this project as my first one for many, many years. Sewing with stretchy material is not quite as easy as using something like cotton that will not move as you sew it. Before you ask, yes I did tack all the seams to minimise the movement as much as I can.

I will however, be making this project again as I will not be beaten 😉 I just need to find the right material.

A summer top

I promised something other than running… it is:

A top I made myself.

A top I made myself.

I can honestly say that it is unique. I got the material from a website called spoonflower. It is an amazing site that allows you to make up your own material by uploading your own patterns onto it. I chose this fabric because….well because it is turquoise.

I chose the jersey option (there are many). I did make a few adjustments to the pattern:

I took the sides in to make it a more fitted top.

I took the sides in to make it a more fitted top.

I know get me! I enjoyed playing with my new machine (borrowed) using a stretch stitch that prevents the material from fraying and joins all in one go.

I then cut the excess off.

I then cut the excess off.

The only thing that I would change is to add some interfacing to the hem to prevent the slight stretch that has occurred. I don’t think that it is that noticeable though.

I have to say that I really like the longer length!

I have to say that I really like the longer length!

I am hoping that spring is on its way so that I can wear this soon. 🙂






A different way of cutting

Did I tell that I have recently had a birthday? Birthdays means treats and this year it meant that I finally got my hands on:

A rotary cutter

A rotary cutter

I first heard about this about a year ago. I was not convinced until I tried to cut out lycra. It was not easy as the material is so stretchy and slippery.

As you can see I have finally managed to get around to having a play.

Lets just say I love it. It is so sharp, it cuts through the 2 layers of lycra with ease. I am able to cut accurately as the material stays flat on the table, you just run the blade around the edge of the pattern. No lifting, stretching or moving.

The only slight issue that I had was not meeting up at the corners quite, leaving the piece joined to the main material.

IMG_1254Can you see on the top right? This is easy enough to rectify – you just chop it but it is a bit annoying!

When done properly this is all you are left with - a clear hole in the shape of the peice.

When done properly this is all you are left with – a clear hole in the shape of the piece.

Oh and you can see how it also cuts through the paper pattern a bit too! 😉

As to what I am making …..more on that another time. I simply didn’t get enough done to show you today.

Nothing to see here

Unfortunately the title says it all. As I said in the last post I was a bit unwell last week which meant normal activities was enough for me. That, along with a family birthday this weekend has left very little time for sewing or knitting. 😦

The time that I had to sew has been spent trying to get a twin needle to work. I was left with this:

As you can see, I wasn't successful.

As you can see, I wasn’t successful.

The knitting has not been going well either as I needed to be able to concentrate. The illness has meant no running has taken place either.

With a busy week ahead at work I doubt that I will have much to report on. I fear I may be a bit quiet this week. The only upside is that my breathing is returning to normal so I may just be able to get back running again which is just as well as the marathon is getting closer and closer.

I hope you all have a happy week and that I have something to report soon 🙂

Progress on the leggings has been a bit slow this week. Too many mistakes and a bit more playing about. When it came to adding the pocket the pattern suggested using a twin needle, something I just couldn’t resist. Not that I know what I am doing. I didn’t even know that they existed before I started playing with the new machines.

The big news is that I still don’t really know what I am doing and have yet to complete this part of the pattern. I have lots of bits of sewing on the oddments of material that I have but nothing on the actual leggings. I did try to but it just wouldn’t work right. I shall have to do some more playing and a bit more research :).

I do now have the ‘back’ to the leggings now:

IMG_1209To go with the front from last week:

IMG_1204(Just proving that they are different!)

As my lovely sister-in-law said – a bit blowy to wear yet! Lets hope that this week is slightly less busy and I get more done!

I did learn some lessons however:

1. Don’t rush – I sewed the pieces together the wrong way around (Shhhh I know!)

2. Don’t sew when tired (see above!)

3. Unpick in daylight (SO much easier and you are less likely to put little holes in the material ;))

So there you have it. Do you have any advice when it comes to using twin needles?

PS: It would appear that I didn’t break the other machine – it must have been the dust that went up in smoke! (Phew!)

2 machines later……

In my last post I shared with you my latest sewing project, a pair of leggings for running. Sewing exercise gear involves learning how to deal with extreme stretch. My last sewing item was jersey which was stretchy enough but spandex is a whole new ball game. I have read so much about it on the web. Apparently I need an over-locker which I don’t have and have no intention of getting either. (Waaaay too expensive!) I could have used the zig-zag stitch on my simple but trusted machine …….. but then I found out that I could borrow an old, but top of the range machine.


Just look at all those buttons!

Just look at all those buttons!

This machine is amazing. It can even embroider words! I spent a happy time reading the instruction book and generally acquainting myself with it. Yesterday I sat down to thread the bobbin and had just worked out how to thread it when smoke began to pour out of it. I hadn’t even started stitching anything yet. Arrggghhhh.

It was not a pleasant experience. I turned it off and unplugged it. There was still smoke pouring out of it. In the end I decided to put in the garden – just in case! (I had visions of it bursting into flames!)

Talk about being gutted. When things go wrong I tend to tell my parents. Luckily they are very nice and understanding. My Mum said that it wasn’t my fault (but it couldn’t have been anyone else!) and even volunteered to lend me her machine (very brave!).

Machine number 2!

Machine number 2!

Less buttons but still lots of stitches and very shiny. I spent another lovely afternoon acquainting myself with this machine, trying out all the stitches to find the perfect one for my leggings. I decided to use a bobbin that was already loaded to prevent a re-occurrence of the last time and finally settled on a stretchy straight stitch. Setting it all up for ‘the real thing’ went without incident. After about an hour I ended up with:

Look - the leggings are beginning to take shape.

Look – the leggings are beginning to take shape.

A long way from being done but they are definitely on their way. I shall be getting the original machine looked at but for now I am happy with the one I have borrowed. Fingers crossed I will not blow this one up! (In case you are wondering, yes I have told the people whose machine I borrowed (my brother) and he just laughed. Phew!

Sewing running leggings

During my break from blogging I re-acquainted myself with sewing. I am aware that I have yet to share with you the wrap dress that I made but that will come, I promise. Following on from this I found a pattern for some workout clothes that I thought I would have a go at…..

I had hoped that I would get at least one item of clothing completed over the Christmas holidays, however we are talking about Christmas and well I just didn’t get time. I did make a start:

I found  Fehr Trade who has several patterns for work out gear. Great, a way to merge two of my hobbies. Luckily she explains what sorts of materials you need to make work out gear as well as a list of possible retailers.

Having ordered the material I downloaded the pattern and set about printing it out. Now printing patterns out means printing onto A4 paper, (obviously) and patterns need to occupy slightly larger bits of paper! This is not a difficult process but does involve a lot of tape. To start with I tried to do it piece by piece but soon realised that the way to go was to tape all the bits of paper together before  attempting to cut.

Cutting the pattern out.

Cutting the pattern out.

I enjoy tasks like this and spent a very happy evening sticking and cutting, although I did take over the whole of the floor!

I ended up with the required pieces without any tears!

I ended up with the required pieces without any tears!

I was now able to continue as if I had bought a paper pattern:



Laying the pieces out on the material.

Laying the pieces out on the material.

I am now waiting for the perfect time to cut them out…….