First Make of 2020 – Closet Case Sienna

With the New Year comes new sewing plans and a little bit of organisation of my patterns and fabric. I don’t know if anyone else is similar but at the start of the New year I always like to have a bit of a clear out and tidy up.

I seem to of acquired rather a lot of fabric over the last 12 months, I have been lucky enough to have a few short breaks both in the UK and further afield and with every new place I visit I find myself checking out fabric shops in the local vicinity where I usually end up buying at least one piece on fabric (I’m on holiday so its allowed right?) and then with the sales over Christmas and New Year I have added even more to my stash.

My resolution for 2020 is to buy less fabric (I would be lying if I said I wasn’t going to buy any, I am bound to get tempted at some stage) and sew more from my stash. I am very easily tempted by all the new fabrics always popping up on Instagram and in the bricks and mortar shops that I visit and often I will buy a fabric without a clear idea of what I plan to use it for (this is something else I want to try and change this year). So having sorted through my rather large pile of fabric I have started to make some plans to sew with what I already have.

First up is the Closet Case Sienna Jacket, I was particularly drawn to the short version of this when it first came out, I really like the button details on the back opening but I have decided to sew the plain sleeves rather than the pocket sleeve which is shown on the short version on the front of the pattern envelope. The fabric I am using is a fairly heavy weight denim that I pick up sometime at the beginning of last year when I visited the Birmingham Rag Market with some sewing friends, I can’t remember exactly how much it cost at the time but it would of been something like £2 or £3 and the quality seems pretty good.

I am a big fan of the Closet Case patterns which always have very well written instructions and quite often a Sew Along over on their blog.

My measurements are as follows: 34/32/38 which put me at size 6 Bust, 14 Waist and 10 Hips according to the size chart but looking at the finished garment measurements there is plenty of ease on the waist and I rarely wear jackets fastened so I decided to cut a Size 8 on the bust and grade up to 10 on both the waist and the hips. I went pretty bold on the top stitching and used some white – no hiding any mistakes against the blue background but I took my time and think it looks pretty neat.

Once all the pockets were in place the next stage it to sew up the top part of the back seam and then do the back flap. There are various options for finishing off the seams and I have opted to use some pretty bias binding that I picked up which is keeping with the colour scheme – navy with white hearts. I was a little concerned that I had cut the back vent facing too short but I double checked the pattern piece and it appears to be correct so I plodded on and turned the corners up. I think I must of misunderstood the instructions because once I had sewn the side seams and tried it on for fit I realised that if I turned the hem up that much all the way round then the front pockets would be right at the bottom of the jacket.

I puzzled over this for a while and tried to figure out the best way to get around this without having to take the whole thing apart. In the end I unpicked the bottom sections and managed to get a bit of extra length. I think originally I had turned the facing edge up and then turned the hem up so this time I let the facing lye flat and turned the hem over it (hope that makes sense) I did have to taper the edge slightly on the right side but this will sit underneath so shouldn’t be visible.

For the top stitching along the back seam I went with a navy to blend in with the fabric.

Once the side seams were sewn up it was onto the collar and lapels facings. The first stage is sewing these together at the shoulders – the instructions also give you a reminder at this stage about adding a hanging loop (I usually forget this sort of thing so found it really useful). Once this is done you need to attach the top collar facing to the neckline. One of my Christmas presents was some wonder clips and I found these really useful on this project, the fabric is fairly thick so pinning can be tricky, these proved to be a fabulous alternative and kept everything in place nicely. I again used bias binding to finish off the bottom edge, I want my jacket to be pretty on the inside too.

Once the collar and lapel are finished you need to attach the under collar to the jacket.

Then comes the fun part! attaching the top collar and facing to the jacket.

I really took my time over this and used a large number of clips to make sure that everything was lined up accurately. Once I was happy with the positioning then it was back to the machine to sew it all together, again the trick here is to go slow. Once everything is sewn up then the seams need to be trimmed and pressed well, it is also important to cut the corners close to the stitch line so that you get a nice corner. One of the key stages of getting a nice finish is pressing. I pressed the edges at every stage when I was attaching the facing to the jacket to make sure I got a crisp finish.

The sleeves are in two parts, there is another version which involves pockets but I preferred the idea of keeping them plain. the sleeves went in pretty easily and again I turned to some bias binding (just a plain grey this time) to give a neat finish.

I have a dread of doing button holes on my sewing machine, a couple of times i have had problems and the thread has jammed but all went smoothly this time.

The instructions suggest shank style buttons in order to give a little room for the thickness of the fabric. I didn’t have any in my collection that were suitable but I did have some regular buttons in a tin that my mother-in-law gave me some time ago. I discovered a nifty trick for making your own shanks. Basically you just need to sew a small bead behind the button to form the shank. I used to do a lot of jewellery making so still have a large selection of beads. I have a tin of 2mm spacer beads with decent size holes which were perfect for the job. Once the bead is sewn into place then just hold the button on top and sew it into place going back through the bead hole a few times as well as going through to the reverse side of the jacket.

So here it is my first make of 2020 and I am so pleased with how it turned out. Sometimes it is just nice to take a little bit of extra time and give a little bit more attention to the finishing. I am proud to show off the inside as well as the outside.

Jarrah Sweater

The Jarrah Sweater is one of those patterns that as been around for a while and although I was aware of it it wasn’t really on my radar until I saw a version sewn up at my weekly sewing group. The teacher had sewn a couple of sample versions up in preparation for a class that she was planning and instantly I knew it was a pattern I wanted to sew.

I got back home and immediately ordered the pattern. The pattern is pretty economical on fabric, I had some ponte weight floral jersey fabric that I had picked up from the swap table at #SewBrum back in October and decided to use that for my trial version. I only had about 1 metre so didn’t bother with cuffs and instead just cut the sleeves out to the longest length I could get from the fabric – these turned out to be plenty long enough.

I went with View C for my first make, because the waist tie is what first drwe me to the pattern. I used the finished measurements to guide my sizing, I usually work on body measurements but this is a loose fit top so I cut a straight size 8 (for my body measurements I would usually grade up to a 12 on the waist), this size worked out perfectly and the fabric worked really well.

The pattern is a very easy sew, I have made a number of jersey tops over the last couple of years so pretty much skipped through the instructions although I did pay attention for the tie which is a detail that I haven’t sewn before. I found the instructions very clear for this stage.

I was so impressed with the pattern that I went straight on to make another, this time I used a striped French Terry from Lamazi Fabrics, at the time of writing the fabric is still available and can be found here:

Groovy Stripes Green / Chocolate Cotton French Terry

The fabric is lovely quality and washes well, it is also very soft to the touch. This time I used some contrasting cuffing fabric to finish off the sleeves which is a perfect match to the brown stripes.

With Christmas fast approaching I decided I just had time to squeeze one more in before packing my machine away. I sew at the kitchen table but will be cooking for 10 this year so needed to clear my sewing machine and all the paraphernalia that goes with it away. I wanted something with a little bit of sparkle and picked up some sweatshirting fabric which has cute glittery foxes on it from a local fabric shop.

This time a went for View B but lengthened the body by 1 inch and shortened the sleeves by 2 inches.

This is definitely one of those patterns that I will be returning to time and time again. I actually have another one planned with some fabric that I have had in my stash since the summer, next time I am planning on lengthening the pattern into a dress but that will have to wait until the New Year when Christmas festivities are over and I can get my sewing table back.

Workshop Culottes and Burnside Bib Pattern Mash

I recently discovered a new to me pattern company called Workshop, if you would like to take a look at some of their patterns the link can be found below:


I really liked the look of the Emily Culottes/Pinafore pattern and sent off for it knowing that I already had some suitable fabric in my stash. My first make turned out well and I have vlogged about it here:

At a recent sewing event called #SewBrum in the UK I picked up some more fabric with another pair in mind but this time I wanted to combine them with the Sew House 7 Burnside Bibs.

The trousers on the Workshop pinafore were pretty much spot on with regard to fitting so I really wanted to use these to achieve a more fitted trouser but I wanted the shape and ties of the Burnside Bib pattern. I love the previous Burnsides I made during the summer and have worn them loads but they do have more of a gathered fit around the bottom area which was fine for the light weight chambray that I used but I was worried about too much gathering with a heavier weight fabric hence my reason for the pattern mash.

To make my latest pair I cut out the pattern pieces for the front and back trouser sections using the Workshop pattern. I used the front pocket piece from the Burnside Bibs because I love how deep they are – pockets are a thing that I am definitely missing on the previous Emily culottes, I then used the bib, waist band and back facing from the Burnside pattern and used the Sew House 7 instructions (which are excellent) to put it all together.

The pieces for the bib section were wider than the trousers so I cut away the side sections because this amount is excess and would normally accommodate the gathers in the standard version.

I haven’t really done much pattern mashing before and one thing I didn’t take into consideration was that on the Burnside Bibs the back trouser piece is cut to sit on the waist higher than the front piece which is to accommodate the front waist band so brings the front up level with the back. I didn’t realise this until it came to attaching the waistband and bib and sewing up the side seams and realised that the front and back were at different heights. I got around this by cutting a second back facing piece and in essence using it as a back waistband. This does mean that the waistband sits a little higher than on the regular Burnside Bibs but I think it still looks OK.

If I am completely honest they are also a little tighter than the first pair I made, this is in part due to the different type of fabric (I used corduroy last time which had a little stretch to it) and also due to them sitting higher on my waist. They are still wearable though and I managed a meal out for my sister’s birthday the other evening without them being uncomfortably tight. I also managed a couple of comical photos in the garden, really not sure what was going on when my husband snapped these.

I am glad that I decided to experiment with the 2 patterns though and will be making more, I am really liking the bib look at the moment and am currently looking for a pinafore with a skirt rather than trouser attachment for my next make.

Liberty Fabric Kalle Shirt

I picked up some Liberty fabric earlier in the year from the Rag Market in Birmingham, At £8 per metre I thought it was an excellent buy and loved the print so it was put to one side until I was sure what I wanted to make with it.

The Kalle shirt is a pattern I have made before a couple of times. I sewed the tunic version last year and wrote this post about it:

then I also sewed up the cropped version to go with some dungarees I had made for the Goodwood Revival. In truth the cropped version was too short for my liking and the fabric I chose was a little to stiff to sit nicely under my dungarees so I ended up sending it off to the charity shop.

I decided to change this version slightly to get the look I wanted – I went with the tunic version again because the length in very much the style I like to wear with jeans and trousers but I decided to shorten the back which is designed to hang quite a bit longer than the front. To do this I simply measured the front pattern piece and traced off the back at this length.

The hem can be a little tricky because it does have a deep curve, the pattern suggests using bias tape that can be made from the material. I had some left over bias in my stash so decided to use this. I also hemmed the front and back pieces before sewing up the side seams. This is a technique I copied from the Deer and Doe Melliot Shirt, when I first read this method I was a little unsure about it but I must say it works a treat and makes the curve at the side seams sit really nicely.

I did some pretty amazing pattern matching for the pocket (if I do say so myself) and used a contrasting thread for all the top stitching which matches nicely with the dancers costumes.

Finally I added odd buttons which I sorted out from I big tin of buttons that I had gifted to me by my mother-in-law, I was a little unsure if this would work but asked for opinions over on my YouTube channel and the general consensus was that I should go for it. I am so pleased that I did and think that they add an extra feature to the shirt.

The Kalle shirt is a really nice pattern to sew, the instructions are very well put together and there are extra online tutorials if you get stuck. This is definitely becoming my go to pattern for shirts and I like the fact that you can make them look different with the various options. I have made 3 now and they all look a little different with the length options and the different plackets and collars.

Do you have a go to shirt pattern? I would love to here.

Fabric Shopping in Beautiful Krakow

I recently had the pleasure of spending a few days in the wonderful city of Krakow. It wasn’t a city I knew much about and it definitely wasn’t on my radar in terms of places to visit but there happened to be a notice in our local travel agents advertising a few days for a good price so we decided to book very much on impulse and I am so glad that we did.

It is such a beautiful city surrounded by a park area with fantastic architecture and many places of interest. Being a keen sewer I always have a quick google to look for fabric shops when visiting any new city and it was pretty clear that Krakow had many.

We arrived on a Monday evening so dropped our bags off at our hotel which was in the Kazimierz area (The Old Jewish Quarter), an excellent base because it is fairly central for the other areas that we wanted to visit. We found a delightful restaurant just around the corner which was very reasonably priced (for the 2 of us we spent on average about £20 for an evening meal including drinks) after dinner we took a short stroll and found a very nice bar.

The next day was lovely, considering it was mid-October when we visited the weather was glorious and we spent most of the days walking round in short sleeves although it did drop cooler on the evening. We had decided to head to the Old Town for our first day which was about a 20 minute stroll away. We got delayed slightly because within 2 minutes of the hotel we found our first fabric shop so obviously I had to pop in for a look.


Tkaniny Krakow Dietla 40, 31-000 Kraków, Poland

This was probably the smallest of the shops that I visited but had a good selection with some especially nice jersey fabrics. I did buy 2 metres of the jersey fabric pictured below because I thought it was a little different than anything I have seen back home in the UK. I am not sure of its composition because I speak no Polish and the lady in the shop couldn’t speak English but it feels like a ponte weight fabric and is 2 way stretch, the price was also good at 38 Zloty per metre (£7.63) with the exchange rate at the time of purchase.

On the same side of the river in the area known as Old Town we came across this Fabric shop:

Tkaniny KraKow. Madec Świętego Filipa 7, 31-150 Kraków, Poland

Again they had a good selection of fabric but nothing that really jumped out at me so I resisted temptation. The Old Town is a very popular tourist area with some lovely buildings and a big square where you can find The Cloth Hall, several restaurants and horse and carts lined up ready to take people on a tour or the area.


The following day we headed in the direction towards the river and came to the Love Bridge so called because of all the padlocks attached to the sides. It is also a magnificent sight due to all of the acrobatic sculptures suspended along the centre. On the other side of the bridge is the area known as Podogrze which is home to a lovely park where we spent a couple of relaxing hours sat on a bench watching the squirrels – there’s red squirrels which I haven’t seen since I was a young girl (they have pretty much died out in the UK) and black squirrels which I have never had the pleasure of seeing before.


Krakowska 35, 31-062 Kraków, Poland

We came across the shop below after crossing the bridge, it had a huge selection of fabrics of all types including some lovely coating fabric.

Tkaniny Krakow.Meda Limanowskiego 7, 33-332 Kraków, Poland

The coating fabric cost 35 Zloty per metre (£7.07 per metre) and I had what was left on the roll (2.2 metres) which should be just enough for a jacket. They also had a very good selection of lining fabrics so I selected the perfect match which was 8 Zloty (£1.62) per metre.

The final shop was discovered on the way back to our hotel and was in an area that is currently undergoing a lot of work to lay new tram lines.20191017_153700.jpg


By this time I really couldn’t buy any more fabric – I don’t think I would have been able to fit it in my suitcase but hopefully you can see from the window display that they had a lovely selection.

I really enjoyed my time in Krakow and will definitely return some time soon and next time I think I will leave a little more room for more fabric.



Tilly and the Buttons Indigo

I always get super excited when I hear that Tilly and the Buttons is bringing out a new pattern, I love her patterns. The style is very much me and I am confident that the instructions are always going to be good.

When the Indigo top and tunic was announced I didn’t hesitate to order it and to date I have made two tunic length smocks.

The first dress was made up in a light weight viscose from Pin and Sew with a lovely feather design.

Purple Feathers Viscose

I had read a few reviews that said the smock was fairly loose fitting and although I wanted to maintain some of the looseness I didn’t want it to look over big so decided to downsize from my usual size. I usually cut a 4 in the Tilly patterns and then grade to a 5 at the waist but I decided to go for a straight size 3. This was a mistake and I had to use a very narrow seam around the arm and underarm area, luckily Tilly is very generous with the seam allowance which should be 5/8 inches so I brought it in to 2/8 inches all along the sleeve and underarm and then graded back to the normal seam allowance once I hit the waist and the fit came out pretty well.

For my second dress I used some cheap fabric that I picked up at a recent sewing event – #sewbrum is based in Birmingham, England and is an annual event which has been running for about 5 years I think. This was my second time attending and I had the most amazing day. There were about 300 sewists who decended on Birmingham to spend time around the Rag Market where many a bargain is to be had, Barry’s and The Fancy Silk Store and then onto Guthrie and Ghani for refreshments, a raffle and a final bit of fabric shopping.

The animal print fabric cost me £1 per metre from The Rag Market so although it probably isn’t the best quality I can’t complain and am pretty pleased with how it turned out. I seem to have a bit of an obsession with animal print. I sized up to a 4 this time and used the normal seam allowance, I also decided to add ties this time so that I can bring it in around the waist. I still haven’t got the fit perfect, the area around my underarm always seems to be the problem area and I could still size up slightly there but the fit everywhere else is good so maybe it is another adjustment that is required.

I have added the flouncy sleeves on both of my makes but I have yet to add the frill seam to the waist but plan to do this once I have got the fit just right.

this is definitely one of those patterns that I can see me making over and over. It is the sort of style that I like and can easily be dressed up or down to suit the occasion. I also think it is a style that can be transitioned for all seasons with the addition of boots for autumn/winter and maybe short sleeves for the summer. Oh and it has pockets too😍

Do you have a favourite pattern company that you turn to time and again? I would love to hear.

Sewing a Mans Shirt

Every once in a while I do a little bit of selfless sewing. I don’t have the confidence to make clothing for anyone other than my husband so he is the usual recipient. I have made small gifts such as bags and purses for family before but sewing clothing is a different ball game and I think it would cause me too much stress and take the pleasure that I get from sewing away.

This isn’t the first shirt I have made for my hubby, in fact it is the 3rd long sleeved one I have made to date and I am happy to say I have improved each time.  The main fabric is a lovely quality Lady McElroy  Cotton Lawn from Lamazi Fabrics and I teamed it with a plain blue cotton lawn which matches the blue flowers perfectly.

Lady McElroy – Watercolours Cotton Lawn Dress Fabric

I made his first shirt when I had only been sewing for about 6 months and I had not tried many techniques so have to say I really struggled with the instructions back then. The pattern I used was from ‘The Gentleman’s Wardrobe’ and my original blog can be found here:

At the stage I am at with my sewing now I really don’t understand how I found the instructions so difficult, the first time I sewed this I pretty much abandoned the written instructions and turned to YouTube were I learnt how to use the burrito method – this puzzles me somewhat now because the burrito method isn’t even mentioned in the book, instead it gives a far easier method where you attach the front pieces to the inside yoke and then turn the top placket edge under by the seam allowance and top stitch! guess I learnt to run before I could walk.

One thing I did get wrong on this shirt was attaching the undercollar to the collar – totally my fault and not down to the instructions. For this shirt I had decided to use a plain blue fabric for the inside yoke, inside collar stand piece and the under collar. When I was joining the collar to the collar stand I sewed it with plain colours both facing one way and patterned pieces the other way. When I came to join it to the shirt I realised that this would mean either the blue side of the collar stand would face outwards with the patterned collar on top or the patterned collar stand on the outside would mean that the blue collar would be on the top. This is not how I intended the shirt to look so I had to unpick the whole thing, this was made rather difficult because I had trimmed the seam allowances. With lots of care and some careful stitching along a very narrow seam allowance I managed to put things right.

The rest of the shirt went fairly smoothly, I have finally cracked the flat felled seams, again the first shirt I made these seams weren’t brilliant but this time I think they look pretty neat.

I did have a little trouble with the buttonholes, the first couple went smoothly but then my machine decided to start sticking and sewing repeatedly in one place (I really don’t know why this happened because it wasn’t being obstructed by any seams adding bulk) I got there in the end by having to finish a couple of the buttons with a little hand sewing.

This is definitely one of my proudest makes, I took lots of care over the finishing carefully selecting the buttons which match perfectly with the blue and I took my time with some hand stitching. My husband is delighted with it and will be wearing out next week when we are off to Goodwood to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary.