Travel capsule wardrobe

I’ve just booked a weeks cycling tour of Morocco, Southern Oasis Cycling by Explore. All excited, especially as it leaves in 3 weeks!

So, appart from making sure I’m fit enough to cycle approx 50km per day on the 5 cycling days, it was time to look at a suitable capsule wardrobe for the non-cycling times.

Morocco is a Muslim country, so many of my tops and skirts wouldn’t be suitable.

The other challenge is the climate. In February the daytime temperature will be in the low 20s, but dropping in the evenings to possibly as low as 5oC.

To keep the number of items to a minimum I decided to opt for the layering approach,  choosing short sleeve tops, that can be worn over a long sleeve thermal top in the evenings. The same approach can be used for light weight long trousers, with thermal leggings.

Limiting my colours, I can then hopefully mix and match a variety of outfits.


Fundraising for my son

Most of December was taken up with sewing a whole variety of goods for my son to sell. He’s attending the next World Scout Jamboree in Japan, and has been trying to raise £3300 as one of the scouts to represent the North East. Check out his BT donate page,, or his Facebook page

I made a variety of different things for him to sell:

  • Japanese style market bag
  • Japanese style evening bag
  • Fleece headbands
  • Knit scarves
  • Felt bookmarks



Fundraising still continues, and I’m still making bags

Owl Appliqué

A change from my usual sewing. Up-cycling my husband ‘s jumper.

I used the owl idea from the recent Love Sewing magazine. As the jumper was for an adult I hand drew my own pattern pieces.

To help hold all the pieces in place I used basting glue, and then stitched them in place with a wide zigzag.

Result – a fun jumper.


Ninja outfit

Well it’s nearly Halloween, and this year my younger son wanted a Ninja outfit.


I self drafted the body, based on his onesie PJs, switching them from a front zip, to one that opens at the back.

First sets were to appliqué on the gold cross, the attach the arms at the shoulder. A wide zigzag stitch was used with a medium (3) stitch length. We then tried it on for size, pinning the side seams to check if anywhere needed taken in. The outfit was made in lycra, so has plenty of stretch. Once we were happy the side seams, including arms were sewn on my overlocker. Final touches were a wide band for the neck, and gold flashes at the ankles.

For the ninja mask I used a 60cm (approx) square which I the tied on his head to work out where the eye hole should go. The eye hole was 12cm x 2cm. To re-enforce the edge I first sewed a rectangle right side to right side, sewing the shape for the whole. Then I cut the centre out, using a diagonal snip into each corner. Finally I pushed the facing through the hole and top stitched around the rectangle. The mask is then tied onto the head using the two outer corners from the square.


Great outfit to practice ninja creeping and kicks.


Gertie’s Vintage made Casual

I got the great new book by Gertie for my birthday – fantastic range of patterns along with a selection of pattern modifications to extend the selection.

As with her first book the descriptions are detailed and well explained. I enjoyed being able to follow the steps to alter patterns enabling you to create something unique.

This week I’ve tackled trousers – something I’ve not really done much of. First off I drafted a pattern for some shorts, similar to the Sailor shorts but longer. I used some leftover old fabric as it was really a muslin (although hopefully a wearable one!)

I made a few mistakes.. Missed the darts on the front as I forgot to trace them onto my pattern. Also messed up the length for my waistband, making it too short.

Having made them I used the book’s guidance to work out what modifications were required. Removal of droopy bottom, and baggy back.

Then I realised that what I really needed was light weight trousers not shorts!

Redrafted the pattern full length, keeping most of the extra width.

Success, a comfy pair of summer trousers. Perfect to fend of mosquitos.

To round off the evening I then rattled off a knit pencil skirt. Great idea to stitch in the ditch on the seams to hide the stitching for the invisible elastic waistband.


Next up was a long sleeve version of “the pin up sweater”. I found some rib knit fabric in Leeds market – perfect to emulate the jumper in the book. My fabric is green, so a little different from the blue in the book. I decided that as we’re approaching winter in the UK that full sleeves were called for. Drafted the sleeves by extending the short ones. Next time I might make them a fraction longer. They feel quite tight, but I think that’s the look. The only other modification I’d make is to widen the front slight around the bust. As there are no darts it could do with a little more room if you normally need a fba.


Overall, great book and patterns so far. Well done Gertie.

Tilly’s Delphine Skirt

This week I’ve finally got round to finishing my first skirt from Tilly’s book “Love at first Stitch”. It’s a great book – good for both beginner and more experienced sewers.

Although I’ve sewn lots of A line skirts before I decided to give the Delphine a go.

It’s a great skirt to make and the instructions in the book are great. Some nice tips for both new and old.

Worth paying attention to the advice to check the size before finally sewing the zip and back seam. I had to unpick mine and take it in.

I enjoyed learning how to stitch in the ditch. Carefully lining up the zip foot to your seam, then slowly slowly ( or pole pole as they’d say in Swahilli!)

In keeping with Tilly’s book I made the skirt my own – zipped in seam pocket. It’s great to have somewhere to put your phone.

The book has instructions for in an in seam pocket, but not a zipped one. I’ve only done this once before, which I blogged on this site. Having done it twice now I think I need to change the steps. It might work better to insert the zip then sew in the pocket in the seam allowance? Any suggestions?

I made a couple of changes to the instructions which I think help give my skirt a professional finish. Firstly I understiched the waistband, on the upper edge. I find it helps prevent the lining rolling forward. The other change I made to finishing techniques was to hand stich, using invisible stitches the heam. I love the clean finish that it gives.

Modified Taffy Blouse from Colette

During May I made a couple of new tops for this summer’s wardrobe.

Having made Colette’s Taffy blouse, from their book before I decided it was time for another one. This time I wanted a blouse that could be worn both to work and on a night out, so decided to make the sleeves slightly smaller.

I used the normal pattern pieces,  but reduced the length of the sleeves by about 2″ (~5cm). This reduced the fullness, and also reduced the fabric required meaning the whole top was made out of 1m of fabric.


The other modification was a fba to help it fit better.

As the top was made in chiffon I used french seams for the sides and arm wholes. The sleeves and top were heated using my rolled heam foot. I still find it quite tricky to feed the fabric into the foot evenly, but taking it slowly it went ok.

The neckline was finished with bias binding,  which I finished by stitching in the ditch. This was a new technique which I’ve used a couple of times recently. To ensure I didn’t stitch on the bias I used the centre guide of my foot to follow the edge of the bias, and set the machine needle half a notch to the side meaning the stitches were close but just off the bias tape.

Pleased with the results.

Tania Culottes

Though the Me-Made-May community I discovered Megan Neilson’s Tania Culottes, and bought the downloadable pattern. Call me old school (believe it or not I’m an IT professional) but I prefer printed patterns. Whilst its easy enough to do the jigsaw and stick the pattern pieces together I hate working with printer paper for my patterns (and generally can’t be bothered to trace them off again onto tissue paper). However, needs must I couldn’t find them it in stock to buy, so used the instant download option. All worked great, and not a bad price.

The pattern is designed to be a short skirt/shorts which were a little too short for my liking. However, the pattern came with instructions to lengthen them which is great. The first ones I made, I simply cut to the length for the biggest size (which resulted in a still quite short skirt). To make longer (say knee length) takes quite a bit of fabric.

Instructions were clear an simple to follow – I liked the technique to clip the skirt top (after stay stitching) before pinning on the waistband. One thing the instructions don’t mention which beginners will not realise, is that as they are cut on the bias they will stretch when cut. Therefore make sure you hang them for at least 24 hours before you hem them. You’ll have to straighten the hem as the bias will not stretch evenly.

Having made one pair, I went on to make a second pair! The first pair were made in cheap cotton, to check out the sizing. I did find that I’d cut and made them slightly too neat, so will make the next pair slightly bigger. Even though I’d made the first pair longer, they were still quite short. Certainly for a work length pair I’ll need to extend about 3″ from the longest length on the pattern, which will obviously take a lot more fabric. I reckon you’d need 3m of 115cm wide fabric to make a knee length pair. As I didn’t have 3m of my cotton/bamboo the next pair will also be non-work (ideal for the up-coming summer).

 Tania Culottes

On this second pair I made a few modifications to the original pattern instructions, which I’ll share as I think it improves the finished culottes.

Firstly, I decided to add an in seam zipped pocket. One of the great advantage of this “skirt” is that you can cycle easily wearing it. I’m always looking for somewhere for my phone, so a pocket was ideal (and one that things can’t fall out of). I’ve written a tutorial on adding an in-seam zipped pocket, which can be read here. Tutorial on In-Seam Pockets.

Secondly, I under-stitched the waistband, to prevent the underside peeping out. It also helps make it slightly more stable. This time I used a medium weight interfacing which has made a difference too. To under-stitch simply sew close to the upper seam, on the facing piece before you secure the sides and bottom. I sewed on the facing, ensuring that all the seam allowance below was also being stitched through.

Finally, instead of folding under the edges of the facing and hand stitching to the zip tape, I left them open, then used my machine to sew the facing to the zip (done by encasing the zip) then turning the facing the correct way out. I then stitched in the ditch, to attach the facing to the body of the culottes.

Overall – great pattern with nice instructions to follow. Best thing – they are a great way to wear a light weight skirt that’s practical for an outdoor girl. Thanks to Megan Neilson for the design. Buy the pattern for these culottes, or look at her other designs here: Megan Neilson Patterns