Sunday, October 27, 2019

Cat magnet paws trews

 Bought this fleece at the Harrogate stitching show in 2018. James' pair easy enough - just his baggies pattern with a bit less ease in the front and back (so there is not too much super thick fabric all bunched up). But I was guessing for mine. Some problems with the back crotch. It fits well when just standing, but pulls down as soon as I step up a step (as I had to for this pic). The sticky nature of the fleece makes it worse I think. I hollowed out the seam, which helped, and then added pockets when helped some more but there is still not really enough fabric in the back to permit bending over, unless I pull the fabric up my thighs when I sit down. I guess the side seams should be looser.

Anyway, these trews are also cat magnets which makes them even warmer!

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

BREXIT the unicorn

I inherited my sister in law's crochet sticks and some yarn. I bought the Kindle version of Edward's Menagerie. First there was a little rabbit, and then a rather cute zebra (which went to MIL for Christmas). Then I discovered a kind of magic - if the yarn is thicker the creature becomes MUCH bigger even though the number of stitches is the same. This resulted in Albert the slightly sad Orangutan.

Then a commission! BREXIT the unicorn! Used the zebra pattern, the thick rainbow wool, and added a bespoke horn. I had to have 2 goes at the horn as I was making it up as I went along. Also made the ears a little narrower than the zebra pattern dictated. 

In between and somewhat desperately, as I had no other idea of what to get him for Christmas, I also made a chess set for Uncle John in Law using this pattern (although I added a row to the King and Queen as they were otherwise a bit short).

So I thought that was probably double-knotting all done (well, the chess set did have a bit more variety) and I could move on to some other stitch, or design. I even bought some patterns. Imagine therefore how gutted I feel to this morning discover that all this time I have neglected to make the elephant in the room!

Sunday, May 06, 2018

red velvet trews

Something else is missing from the blog, In time for our trip to Germany in autumn last year (2017) I sewed the synthetic red velvet that I bought at the 2015 Harrogate show into a pair of trews. I used my non-stretch pants pattern, but made straight flappy legs. No point using less velvet when more is available! These trews are a lot of fun. Comfortable, and I can draw on them with my finger when bored, and then smooth it out, like an etch-a-sketch. They do stretch a bit, so need washing more often than some other trews. Must photograph these too!


Almost as soon as we moved to the hills of North Yorkshire, James wanted some moleskin trousers. Moleskin is not very available and is also incredibly expensive. I got as far as ordering a tiny swatch online, but there was only navy blue and really I wondered whether it was the right weight. Then I  found a kind of fuzzy synthetic substitute in Paris in late 2014 (seems I failed to blog this exploration of fabric stores or the result!). Knocked up the trews using James’ jeans pattern, plus some nice big rear pockets. Fabric still performs OK, but is bobbly and J has been asking for a proper pair ever since. Found something that the seller said was cotton moleskinat the Harrogate show in 2015, but it was way too cheap, so I bought it anyway! I remain suspicious that this fabric is not superior to the Paris synthetic, and since those trousers have continued to provide excellent protection against the strong cold winter wind, I haven’t rushed to make the second pair. However, I finished them today, just as summer has started. Same pattern as the first pair but they appear quite a bit bigger, so I suppose that the others have shrunk (I have noticed that they have started to look a bit short in the leg). Just hoping this fabric hasn’t stretched as it has been sewn. Anyway, time will tell. I had better take pics of both pairs sometime!

Sunday, September 03, 2017


I spotted this fabric on a Friday night, in a shop window in Monmouth (we were there to eat a large dinner the night before the start of the national mountainbike orienteering championships in the Forest of Dean). The website of the shop was written on its door, but didn't resolve to anything useful on the actual internet. However, after a bit of internet searching, I found the fabric manufacturer and code for the fabric, and was then able to buy it from eBay or amazon or somewhere. Still quite expensive, as it is a USA manufacturer, but it is also quite nice not-too-thin cotton and very bright. Anyways, these are just a simple pair of trews made from the usual pattern, one of the three things I stitched before our trip to Hamburg this month. Hopefully the other things will also make an appearance on this blog, once they have been photographed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Double Bagging

James' swimming gear bag was a plastic rucksack that he picked up at the Vienna marathon. It eventually wore out two years ago, so I took the opportunity of his recent absence, visiting his parents, to stitch a violently coloured replacement. This is very much like the simple sack design, with slightly different solution at the bottom. The fabric is very stretchy, but it doesn't carry much weight, so that might not matter too much. I put a length of webbing inside the bottom of the bag, going widthways, attached to the bag at the edges. The edges of the webbing stick outside the bag to form loops, and cord is passed through these to form the straps.

Then there was the tiny running bumbag requirement. The original was a bag picked up at a race. There was a complaint that the zipper had broken so new was required. So I made a slightly generous replacement, only to find that his mobile phone would not fit in it without forcing it horribly. "Yes", says James, "that's the whole point. I need a bigger one." Pity he didn't tell me that at the start, but never mind, I had enough fabric to try again. I used the original webbing and some powerdry type of material for the body of the bag. There is a strip of elastic inside the bag to take a bit of the strain and also to use to stop things rattling about. And I attached some bright and reflective material as it is now so black it will get lost otherwise. Result seems to have gained approval from the running man. 


About a year ago I made a couple of pairs of pyjama bottoms out of cotton (I think perhaps I didn't bother to blog them), but this winter all my PJ tops wore out too so I have made a top to match one of the pair of bottoms. This is the same Jalie pattern I used previously. Our house is a lot warmer than our house in Japan, and brushed cotton is too hot, so these are just shirting weight. I just wear a t-shirt underneath if it is a bit colder. Picked up the fabric shortly before we left Japan in late 2013. It is very pretty at present, but the gold will wear off after a few washings.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

bloooooo long sleeve

Found this lovely blue fabric on the remnants floor of Britex Fabrics in San Francisco when we were there for the AGU in December last year.  The shop assistants were a little surprised that my plan was to use it to make something for a man! But, anyway, here we are... I think it suits James very well. This was just the usual long-sleeve top pattern. Since the fabric is quite weighty and has 2-way stretch, and these long-sleeve tops tend to go a bit baggy round the neck, I added narrow elastic round the neck. This had the effect of making the shirt a bit short and I had to add an extra hem onto the bottom! The neck appears slightly gathered but it has already relaxed quite a bit and I expect it to do more so over time. 

I am a bit behind with blogging. This photo was taken in March!

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Travel clothes - trews and hoody

Help - someone in the lunch queue just said they'd heard of my blog. Agggh! so I'd better add an update!

Travel is a good incentive for stitching. With a 2 month trip to Colorado coming up I carefully considered what would be most useful, told James he didn't need anything, and finally decided to try to improve the stretch "pants" pattern, left over from last year's class, and also make a mid-weight jumper. We're now on the trip and the clothes are being worn simultaneously, so I can economise on both blogging and photographic pixels.

It looks a bit sunny for such clothing, but the air is actually quite cool for much of the day, and we just popped out of our over-cooled indoor environment to take these photos.

For the trews, all I did to the basics was alter the crotch seam (took a bit off the back and added to the front). The pattern is unfinished at the top and so I generally cut it long, fit the trews and then decide where the waistband should go (according to mood), draft the waistband and stitch. The waistband line comes out as a pretty weird shape being high at the back. This time I decided to experiment and obey it, cutting a 4-piece band, which produced an interesting result and a bit of a gap at the back in the waistband when I sit down. So I probably over-did it a bit and should got for less of a parallelogram for the back piece. Other than that, they are a really good fit and don't need a belt. So now I have to just not change shape, and I've got pattern that fit for both stretch and no-stretch trousers! The fabric is a dark maroon stretch denim that I bought at the Harrogate show last year.

For the hoody I am a bit less certain that I've got it sorted. This one is made from adding width in arms and body to the same pattern used for the rollneck made recently. For that one I fairly radically reshaped the underarm, and maybe it was a bit too radical. The fabric is Polartec Powerstretch so very stretchily forgiving, but I've a feeling it would be a bit tight in a less stretchy fabric. I seem to be struggling to find the right kind of mid-weight as I try to replace this, "Mountain Hoodie" - 2006, which is getting quite worn, and is worn almost every day in British summer! Having said that, this new one is a much better weight for a mountain/exercise hoodie, as it is quite a bit warmer.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Leggings and Rollneck

Found this interesting fabric going cheap at the Harrogate show. Couldn't really resist.

My wardrobe continues to suffer from climate change. Insufficient styles for cold weather and too many quite worn out summer clothes. Something must be done. Summer isn't really summer here, shorts and T-shirts a rarity, so long base layers seemed like a good idea.

The leggings that I use most for running and cycling cost about 35USD and they are full of holes from when I've fallen off my bike. How hard can it be to make them? The difficulty is actually in finding really good fabric, and I have yet to find a nice 2-way stretch cotton lycra. That's the power that these big sports companies have - they get to specify their own fabrics. Anyway, I had the nice colourful synthetic quite gently (2-way) stretchy fabric and also some violent pink and black stripes in a fabric that would probably be classed as dancewear fabric. So, I drew round a pair of lycra leggings, and adjusted the inside-legs on the pattern so they would match, and that was about it. I made one pattern piece as I thought these patterned fabrics would be better without a side seam. Inside leg seam, crotch seam, 2 cuffs and an elastic waistband and that's it. Made it first in the pink stripes and have used them both running and cycling. The fabric is quite thick for lycra and so they are a bit warmer than normal lycra leggings, which is a good thing as standard lycra leggings are usually a bit cool for round here. The second pair are in the colourful fabric. It is a very pliant fabric so quite soft, and probably less suitable for sports. Hope they are warm enough to be worn at least occasionally in Yorkshire, but they may also come in handy for travel, being light and comfortable.

I have quite a lot of t-shirts, and although I wear them under things, they don't often see the light of day any more. I usually wear 2 layers over them, even in "summer". I seem to be short of middle layers, and I want something that looks nice under jumpers with a variety of necklines, and for that reason I thought rollnecks might be a good idea. So I revisted my long sleeve t-shirt pattern. There is something wrong about the underarm on all my home made t-shirts which fell too far from the body so I moved the underarm point in quite a bit (4-5cm - I basically made the underarm and hip fall at the same width which makes sense in that my bust and hips are about the same circumference), and then walked the seams to make sure everything would line up.  It is much improved, and seems close to perfect fit but I wonder if I should make a slightly less drastic alteration for a less stretchy fabric.  I guess I will have to try and see!

I don't really intend to wear the ensemble in public. Lucky that no one reads this blog. I think it might scare the sheep. I already get comments from people in town on the brightness of my trousers!

Monday, April 04, 2016

Fell running waterproof

For some fell running races it is mandatory to carry full waterproofs including non-detatchable-without-scissors hood. James already has the waterproof trousers, of course. He also has a mountain climbing Goretex and a cycling Goretex. The latter is 500g, and would do, but it is a bit baggy and doesn't fit in James' tiny fell running rucksack. He asked for smaller and lighter. For running, one wants something fairly slimline, so I started with the pattern for the cycling windproof. If using this pattern again for cycling I would add more ease across the back, as the stitching tends to come undone at the back arm seams, but for running it should be fine. I had some fabric - a nearby outdoor store that made much of its own gear closed down recently and sold off a few metres of fabric amazingly cheaply. The fabric is heavier than Pertex and clearly waterproof, but I'm not sure how breathable it is - possibly not very. However, with pit zips and a zip down the front of the jacket, there are ventilation options.

The only really tricky bit was devising the hood. James decided that the snug collar of the Pertex windproof was desirable when the hood was not in use, so it seemed that a hood that tucked into the collar would work. James' cycling jacket has that kind of hood, so I copied that hood shape. What I did wrong was fail to allow for the space occupied by the rolled up hood inside the collar, so it is a bit tight. However, this is mitigated somewhat by the extension tab at the back collar (also copied from the cycling jacket) which means that the hood does not have to be completely inserted into the hood.
And here's the hood. It now has a single snap in the middle of the centre front, because for running James wants it to fasten under his chin, not over his mouth.

Of course, I minimised seams, but I also found a nice roll of seam tape on EBay and taped the raglan seams as well as the pocket area. Doesn't seem much point taping the underarms, given the pit zips. But perhaps I will have to. The rules say, 'The FRA regards "waterproof" to be a garment marketed as "waterproof" (i.e. not just “windproof”) with taped seams.' Now that's tricky - this jacket isn't being marketed at all! The vulnerable area for water ingress could be the front zip as there is no storm flap. Looking at the running jacket market it is clear that the really lightweight ones are not really very waterproof and just for emergencies (or even just for carrying!), as they are made of very thin fabric. My version is actually quite a sturdy mid-weight laminated fabric. Final weight, 302g before the last snap was added, so probably 305g, which is very competitive given that published weights are for M-size jackets and this one is of course an L (well ... XXL length and M width ~= L).

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Missoni Knit Sweater

Having already bought the fabric in Harrogate at the start of December, I convinced Pops to buy me this sweater for my birthday (27 December), so the pressure was on to complete the garment before we departed for Scotland on 20th December. As it turned out it only took about 24 hours real time, so was finished in time. I did the pattern work one evening and finished the sweater by the next evening. 

Because of the lovely pattern of the fabric I decided a plain structure was best, so I adjusted my sweater pattern to have no taper in arms and no shaping in body. I also cut a "cowl" neck, which is basically a big roll-neck.

Wanting the stripes to go across the chest meant cutting on the cross grain, but this had the bonus that I need not make cuffs and instead put all the ends on the selvage. The sales person thought 1.5m would be enough, but I always buy more so had 2m. Even that was not enough for my original plan, which was to have the same stripe across body and arms. But it all fitted with the body pieces using one side of the width and the arms and neck the other. In the end I think this turned out for the best, as now the full patterning of the fabric can be admired. 

One interesting thing is that the fabric stretches a lot almost like it had been cut on the bias. This means the lack of shaping was a good move, as the sweater anyway falls to the contours of the body, but it also means that the length of the finished garment is somewhat variable depending on its mood. Thus sometimes I roll up the arms to make cuffs. It is quite fun because the pattern at the end of the arms of course matches the pattern of the base of the rollneck.

Dressing gown for J

Made from jigsaw fleece bough at the HIC show.

A quote from the first time I used this pattern to make jimjams, "Simplicity 7045. Made Large size (should have made Medium but pattern is L-XL)" It's deja vu all over again! So ... the pattern was somewhat too wide, and I took out an inch from each shoulder seam. It could be a little more snug around the neck so I could have taken another 0.5-1" out down the back at the back of the neck, although maybe would need to put some back at the underarm, which would have been a rather more complicated adjustment. I added 5" in total to the length, 3 above the waist and 2 below. We positioned the waist loops and pockets according to personal preference of the victim. James wanted lots of wrap around, so I added an inch or two to the cross-over flap it at the front, and adjusted the other pieces (collar, facing) to work with this. I thought the sleeves were right, but that's because I misunderstood the construction which involved a quadruple thickness cuff at the bottom. So, they were a few inches short, but managed to work out a different style that can be folded up manually. The pattern says something like "easy" on it, but I think this is the largest thing I have ever made, which made for quite an interesting challenge. Fabric mustn't be stressed while sewing, and so checking that bits of it weren't caught under a chair, wrapped round a knee or stuck in a cat was quite important. Glad to have lovely large sewing machine for this project! 

The pattern seems very wasteful on fabric as each collar and facing is a single piece. I was using James' John Lewis dressing gown so I copied its pieced collar and lack of the upper facing around the shoulders. The fleece is actually a bit thinner and more drapey than I had expected (or perhaps with the whole garment hanging off the shoulders and neck they could do with some reinforcement), so I probably should have included the upper facing, but, like the collar, cut it in pieces. 

Hat for James

Somehow the photos have not yet been taken, which isn't at all helpful. A fashion show is long overdue!

Had previously made nobby nobheads for j and J. My one was a bit tight, although lovely and warm and so I ended up giving it to my pea-headed sister in law. However, thanks to said sister in law, we had developed a beanie pattern. Last winter I made a version for me out of wind pro (not blogged, oops!) and it has done very well for walking, cycling, running and also every day wear.

James complained much about his nobby because, although partially windproof the lower cuff is power stretch and lets the wind through, so it is not great for cycling and even blows off when the wind gets in under the top part! J and I have rather similarly sized heads so since my beanie is plenty big enough for me, I used the same pattern for J. He cycles at the front of the tandem in the wind, so I made the centre piece and bottom cuff with the tougher Powershield remnants. The sides are windpro fleece. The inside of the cuff is a powerdry-like fabric that I bought a length of at the closing down sale of a local walking shop in Ingleton (maybe that haul of cut price bargains should be another blog post!). 

Update; New Year's Eve photo shoot: J and j beanies...

Harrogate Knitting and Stitching Show

After a fun shopping visit to Harrogate in November (where I found one fabric store, one craft store and a sewing machine store all one one street, as well as a cornucopia of other exciting non-stitching related shops) I looked up to see what was on at the HIC, and discovered the Knitting & Stitching Show was just a couple of weeks away!

The show was amazing, and huge and I bought quite a lot of fabric. As should be clear from the name, the show wasn't all about fabric, but there was quite a range - mostly it was not the super expensive fabrics, and quite a few seemed to have special deals for the show. I met James for lunch in town and offloaded some bags on to him and then went back in for more.  The only downside was that I seemingly caught a nasty cold off the crowds, and seem to have been not quite 100% ever since, which hasn't been at all good for the training plan! Then again it has been raining almost continuously so not much has been missed in the way of outdoor adventures. 

I should have photographed more of the shops to recall their names, but I did take a few snaps. 

At Higgs&Higgs (Gloucester, but looks to have an online store) I bought 2m of Missoni knit for 40UKP. That was the most expensive purchase of the day, but was not a mistake as it has already been made up into a lovely sweater. What would have been a mistake would be trusting the sales person who thought that 1.5m would be enough!

The Shuttle is amazingly local (but no website) being in Shipley, and I think it was there that I made 2 purchases. One was a quite lightweight slippery knit in a wonderful pattern. Not sure it is often warm enough here to wear this weight as an outer-layer, so it might have been a somewhat foolish purchase, especially as  I still have a lot of lightweight clothes leftover from living in steamy Japan. I think I also bought there 5m of jigsaw print fleece. This has been sewn up into a dressing gown for James. 

I am not sure what I bought at Simply Fabrics of London, but was moved enough to take a photo, so must have been something...  

Let's see if I can remember all the other purchases.

There was a London based store selling quite low quality fabrics for almost nothing. I bought a length of some kind of fuzzy polyester, but totally missed a trick as most of their stuff would have been great for making muslins of one kind or another. 

Another store sold end of rolls and didn't know quite what they were selling, but did the salesman was doing his best to inform people before they bought by enthusiastic application of the burn test. I got into conversation with him, and ended up with what he thought was moleskin, but it was so much cheaper than moleskin I have found online that I have some doubts...  

Somewhere towards the end of the day I bought some synthetic red velvet. I am not sure why this was a good idea at the time. I think it might just have been brightly coloured yet cheap. Also towards the end of the day I found some nice, but very dark, brushed cotton for making pajamas with. It was quite expensive and a bit narrow so I was a bit tentative over the quantity and I'm not sure if I got enough for full pajamas for James. Might have to be just a top, or bottom, or for me! I also found some stretch cotton in dark maroon that should work for another pair of trousers for me in my making-trousers-that-fit odyssey.