Category Archives: Sewing

How is it half way through January already?!

Well I think it’s quite clear that my resolution to sew more in 2021 (or at least blog more) didn’t actually materialise! Following on from my grand clear-out of fabric offcuts & those fabrics I bought with great intentions several years ago but never actually used, I thought this year’s 9 to Try should be things I already have the fabric lined up for!

I know the ‘classic’ name would be “Make 9” but that always makes me feel like I’ve failed if I don’t achieve making all nine! So I feel “nine to try” is better, as that counts any that might get started and subsequently abandoned.

My Nine to Try for 2022

Hey June Handmade Amherst Shirt*
A friend gave me some fabric for Christmas several years ago, with the idea I made it into a lap blanket. I think the fabric would be much better suited to being a shirt, so that is this year’s aim! I also have some England Football cotton (probably originally designed to be a duvet cover, given the size of the print and the extra-wide fabric), and some “splotchy” purple cotton which would also make a couple of great Amherst shirts.

5 out of 4 Zen Trousers*
A couple of years ago I bought a “stretch fabric mystery package” online, and received a white floral cotton lycra, and a black crepe-like jersey. Along with the purple cotton lycra I’d originally bought to make a top from, I’m hopeful that these will make some comfy Zen trousers.

Ellie & Mac* Around the Block Hoodie*
Bright blue and navy sweatshirt fabric (as long as the colour doesn’t bleed out from the navy!) would make a striking Around the Block hoodie, with those diagonal lines being much more noticeable than on my original Around the Block make.

Woven PJ Bottoms
I have some Winter themed cotton that would make a great pair of PJ bottoms – I just need to finalise the pattern I want to use!

Tilly & the Buttons Joe PJ Bottoms
I bought the pattern and fabric a couple of years ago, to make these as a present for a relative. Unfortunately the relative was reluctant to actually let me measure him… but this year I’m determined to make these PJ bottoms!

Woven Nightie
Much like the Joe PJ bottoms, the woven nightie was meant to be a gift for a relative. I’m hoping that this year she’ll let me measure her, so I can get the nightie sewn!

Blank Slate Bookworm Shirt
Depending on the fabric content (I thought it was cotton, but I’ve got it written down as jersey), this will either be another shirt for K, or a t-shirt! Whatever it’s going to be, I’m aiming on getting it made for his birthday in the Spring.

Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans
or Winter Wear Designs Endless Summer Shorts*
I have quite a bit of denim set aside to make jeans, although I have put weight on since lockdown, which isn’t a problem but does mean I need to re-measure myself and maybe change the size of pattern I was making previously! If I don’t feel confident enough with the jeans, then I do have some fabric that would make Endless Summer Shorts (and that pattern is easier to amend the sizing).

Megan Nielsen Matilda Shirt Dress
I’ve never actually got as far as making myself a shirt dress, and this is actually the only one on my “9 to Try” that I don’t have the fabric set aside for. However, I do like the idea of dresses, even if I can’t wear ones with a zip in the back as I really hate the idea of having to get someone to help me zip it up!!
My alternative to the shirt dress is to finish the faux fur bears I’d cut out years ago but never actually got as far as sewing.


* – affiliate link (see my About page for more details)

Spring Cleaning

I know that Spring Cleaning traditionally starts in the Spring…. but I decided on New Year’s Eve that it was time I actually sorted my fabrics. And I mean properly sorting them, not just looking at them and putting it all back in the cupboard again!

I’m sure I’m not the only person who keeps the offcuts of fabric “just in case” then never actually goes back through it again? I had a surprising amount of offcuts that were just too small to do anything with, so they all went out for the recycling collection as rag.

But what about those offcuts which are a more usable size, and the fabrics that I’ve bought and never got as far as using? I started out buying duvet covers as cheap fabric alternatives (especially useful when you can get a double duvet cover for £11, which has metres of fabric to play with). However, I haven’t used a duvet cover fabric in years, so it’s time for those to be passed on to someone who can make use of them.

A selection of the fabrics in my clear-out

Some of my online purchases over the years, were ones I probably wouldn’t have bought in an actual shop if I could handle them before buying. Things like the purple jersey in that photo above; it’s a lovely colour, but so heavy-weight it would be likely to stretch vertically while being worn. There’s also a lining fabric which came as part of a mystery box which I’m not likely to use as I prefer to add patterned cotton linings to coats. The bright blue fabric in that photos is a sweater fabric which was a lot more delicate than I had anticipated, and not really ideal to make a sweater for the male family member I had in mind.

My faux fur offcuts should still be the right size for someone to make a small cuddly toy, and the striped denim… unfortunately the stripes would be impossible for me to look at while sewing (since I’ve been sewing more, I’ve realised that high contrast patterns are not suitable for my eyes), so that had to go as well.

In total, I had a large charity sack full of fabric to donate, which I’m hoping will come in useful to someone!

I’m not quite finished yet though – I still need to sort the fabrics so they’re stored more logically, and the denims are all in the same box. Then I “just” need to work on sorting patterns (and that could take a long time!).

A Spooky Halloweeny Glowing Stingray

You’ve probably noticed that I like quirky fabrics, and what could be more quirky than a glow in the dark Halloween fabric?

In daylight the stingray is just plain old black and white cotton, with a plush fleece underside. Because the cotton doesn’t stretch, I did find it challenging to sew the top seam neatly after stuffing the stingray, as I’m used to using stretchy fabrics for toys.

I didn’t want the eyes to stand out and detract from the glowing fabric, so I used some plain black eyes which I think look a little more natural than the coloured ones.

But I know you’re waiting to see what this little stingray looks like in the dark, and I will admit I actually failed at getting a photo in focus with the stingray glowing!

But fear not, this stingray was actually a present for a friend, and she had much better luck with taking a photo:

I’m amazed with how well the fabric actually glows, as some of my glow-in-the-dark fabrics have felt a little underwhelming in the dark. I might have to see if I can get some more of this fabric, and make a few more stingrays!


Pattern: BeeZeeArt
Fabrics: Plush Addict

Superbly warm and cosy Fox Joggers

I had the opportunity to sew something from this amazingly warm fur-backed fox sweatshirt fabric. Of course my thought immediately went to another hoodie – but then I realised that what my winter wardrobe was really lacking, was a pair of warm joggers for winter walks.

This was my first make using the Apostrophe Patterns My Fit Joggers pattern, which probably was rather reckless given that I didn’t even make a muslin first. But I’m pleased with how they came out, even though I do need to adjust the elastic a little, as I think I was a bit too generous on the waistband measurements!

Check out my superbly cosy Fox Joggers on the Minerva website


Pattern: Apostrophe Patterns My Fit Joggers
Fabric: Fur Backed Sweatshirt from Minerva

Camp-a-long Critters

Do you remember the camping themed shirt I blogged about a couple of years ago? No? Well I’m not surprised, as it’s been so long, I hadn’t realised I’d not actually posted the finished shirt!

It’s always a nerve-wracking process sewing the buttonholes when you’re pleased with the progress you’ve made. One tiny little mistake, or something nudging the automatic buttonhole lever, could mess up the buttonhole and prove really challenging to fix!

Thankfully the buttonholes all went smoothly, and my Camp-a-long Critters button-up shirt is finished!

I do like the shape the princess seams give to the shirt, although either some pressing or topstitching might make those seams sit a little better.

Ok, you can see where I didn’t have enough fabric to even pattern match the horizontal stripes, but I don’t see the back of my own shirt when I’m wearing it!

One sleeve head has come out more ‘puffy’ than the other, which I think is a clear sign that I really need to get my head around the whole concept of “easing” fabric. I either end up with accidental puffy sleeves, or lots of pleats and tucks in the sleeve fabric where the easing hadn’t gone to plan.

Maybe that’s a goal for next year?


* – affiliate link
Pattern: Button-Up Top*  by Winterwear Designs*
Fabrics: Camp-a-Long Critters quilting cotton from Sewing Studio

Around the Block – Nautical Style

Going through my photos, I realised there were quite a few sewing projects that I hadn’t actually blogged, so be prepared for some random changes in my hair length with photos!

This is the Around the Block Hoodie, which features a contrast diagonal panel across the bodice and sleeves, plus in-seam pockets and a cross-over hood.

I didn’t want my contrast panel to be really contrasting, so I picked out two designs of French Terry which had matching background colours, while still being within the same nautical theme.

The hood itself is lined with the contrasting fabric, which I also used for the ties. So far I’ve not been able to find some quality ribbing to use for the cuffs and waistband – everything I’ve used has either been quite thin, or has lost its shape after a few washes. Rather than risk that again, I stuck with the main fabric for the waistband and cuffs – if that stretches out in the wash, then at least the entire hoodie will stretch along with it!

The only thing I wish I had done, is shorten the pattern to allow for being 5′ tall! This hoodie is considerably longer than the ones I’d normally wear. However, after wearing it for a while, I’ve got used to the longer length, and it does keep my warm!

Most, if not all, hoodies have a kangaroo pocket on the front, but because of the diagonal panel, the Around the Block hoodie has in-seam pockets. They weren’t hard to sew, but sometimes I find myself going to put something in the pocket on the front – which of course isn’t there!

My nautical hoodie is finished off with some multi-coloured topstitching – I had some Gutermann red white and blue variegated thread left over from a previous project, which worked really well.

With the way our weather seems to be heading, it won’t be long before it’s chilly enough to wear this again!


Pattern: Around the Block by Ellie and Mac
Fabric: French Terry from Mibs

More bears?!

I’m sure you’ve realised that I really enjoy sewing bears – especially ones from the Polar Bear pattern that was in Simply Sewing several years ago. I was offered the opportunity to make something using this faux fur, and it just had to be two brown bears!

These bears were made at 200% sizing, which was just the right height for this one to try helping to sew his brother!

I’d crocheted these mugs and cakes several years ago, and they seemed the perfect photo props to use for these two bears.

Not long after these photos were taken, these two bears went on a little adventure of their own, moving to live with an old school friend’s two sons.

Head over to the Minerva site to find out more about these really cuddly bears I made.


Pattern: Polar Bear from Simply Sewing issue 24
Fabric: Chestnut super soft cuddle faux fur from Minerva

Ribbit ribbit

I’ve never made plushie frogs before, but when I had the opportunity to make something from Velboa, it seemed a natural choice!

I’ve sewn with various styles of faux fur before, but Velboa is totally new to me. It does have a nap (so the fur can be brushed in one direction), but this particular velboa has an abstract pattern where the nap changes direction multiple times. This meant it was a bit more challenging to lay the pieces out, but I tried to just get the background nap in the same direction at least.

I wanted to try out the glow in the dark fabric paint I bought in the sale from Minerva a couple of years ago, so I used that on the white felt eyes for two frogs. It does give them a bit of a strange look in daylight, but the glow works perfectly once the lights are out at night.

As you can tell from my stack of frogs, there’s also a Manta Ray lurking with them. I had enough fabric left over after making those four frogs, and thought a Ray would be a good companion for them.

Head over to Minerva to check out my Ribbiting make!


Patterns: Frogs by Choly Knight & Manta Ray by Choly Knight
Fabric: Velboa Faux Fur Garden Mint from Minerva

Rainbow Dragon

Since Lockdown 1.0, I haven’t done much sewing – the majority of things I made were face masks for friends and family. I wanted to sew something as a Christmas present for K, but what do you make a young boy who loves dragons? A dragon backpack of course!

I’ve made plush toys before, but this would be the first backpack I’ve ever attempted…. I like to make things challenging!

My original plan was to use some glow in the dark fabric paint on the eyes to add an extra fun little detail. However, the glow paint I’d purchased online was a ‘lucky dip’ when it came to colour, and I ended up with pink – perfectly fine, but I didn’t really want this dragon to have pink glowing eyes! So I stuck with the pattern’s recommendation and appliqued the felt eye pieces onto the face.

This fleece fabric is surprisingly slippy – it behaves almost like a fake fur rather than fleece when you’re sewing. As a result, the zip on the main pocket isn’t the neatest of stitching.

I had a Union Jack patterned fat quarter lying around, which worked perfectly for the pocket lining. I didn’t want anything too dark, as it would make it quite challenging to find something in the bag otherwise.

After a while of fighting the fabric, I tried an alternative technique – placing a layer of calico fabric against the feed dogs when sewing. That worked like a dream, allowing the fabric to feed through evenly, and no more squished stitches!

Because the dragon needed to be stuffed and the fabric had a slight stretch, I wanted to make sure the seams would allow some stretching, so I trimmed down the calico to as small a piece as possible. Ideally I would’ve used a tear-off fabric stabiliser or even tracing paper, as both of those could be fully removed after sewing. But as usual, I didn’t have either to hand, and I really needed to get this dragon finished!

As an optional extra in the pattern, there’s a hidden pocket in the dragon’s tail. I thought this would be a neat addition (which I didn’t point out when I gave K his present – I wanted him to discover it for himself), so not only is this my first backpack make, it’s also my first attempt at sewing in an invisible zip (albeit without an invisible zipper foot)!

My only other slight mishap was when I stitched the strap to the wrong side of the dragon’s paw (oops!) and had some well-nigh impossible unpicking to do to resolve it. But thankfully you couldn’t see the mistake once I’d finished.

And I can safely say that K loves his new backpack – after he’d opened it, he put the bag on his back and ran round the room shouting “I’ve got wings”!


Pattern: Dragon Backpack by Choly Knight
Fabric: Rainbow Fleece from MIBS

A Flurry of Face Coverings

It was almost impossible to look at sewing posts last year without seeing at least one face covering, or a pattern for one. Some people were making hundreds of them to give away, others made hundreds to sell, and for a while I felt that I was “failing” for not making them or scrubs!

However, I eventually came to accept that while I have the skill to be able to make things and I also liked the idea of helping out charities and local organisations / the local doctor’s surgery & hospital, the whole ‘production line’ way of making multiples of the same item like that, just isn’t something I am able to do.

I didn’t actually make any face coverings until the first mention that they were going to be essential to wear when entering a shop – so I made my first few for my parents.

A little while later, another relative requested masks for their family members which included a 5 year old child. By this point I was feeling comfortable with the adult patterns I was using, but what was I going to do for a child’s pattern? The first pattern I found was marked as age 2-5 and age 6-10 – how on earth was I going to know which would work the best, given that the masks were going to be posted?

In the end, I made three different child’s masks (one of each size, and another from a different pattern) in the hope that at least one would work well. I made the two different sized ones in totally different fabric (the foxes and dinosaurs on the bottom right of the photo above) so it would be easier to work out which face covering actually fitted the best.

Spurred on by my success, I made two matching masks for a friend’s birthday (who would’ve thought that a face covering would be a suitable birthday present?), picking the same adult patterns I’d used previously. Again, I wasn’t too sure which that friend would find most comfortable to wear, hence the two different designs. These were made from a fat eighth that I’d won as part of a bumper prize from Sew Magazine a couple of years ago.

Of all the masks, the pleated ones were the hardest to make as threading the elastic through the tunnel with all those pleats in place, was almost impossible at times. So for my next batches, I stuck with the shaped masks. These two went to a friend in Norway, while the ones below were sent to a friend in America. You can just about see the same fox fabric on the lining for the right-hand mask – these work really well for using up those smaller pieces of fabric that you’re not quite sure what to make from!

More foxes! I used the same foxes for the lining on the right-hand mask, which probably wasn’t overly intelligent – while the shaped mask is reasonably clear which way round it goes, having a different pattern to the lining (or even a plain fabric) makes it really clear for those “not quite awake” mornings when you need to go grocery shopping!

I also added in a little waterproof ripstop carry bag for the face coverings – the ring on the edge means you can clip it to your keys, or into your bag so you should never be caught out without a mask!

And finally, I had another request from the same relative for some Christmas-themed masks just to make work seem a little more fun in the run up to Christmas last year. They also requested a couple of matching sets to include a children’s mask.

I not only made the Christmas themed ones, but also added in some more spring and summer face coverings just to give them something fun for the warmer months when Father Christmas and snowmen didn’t quite seem ‘right’.

And just to try out a different pattern, I made one of the 3D Masks for myself. I didn’t get the topstitching quite as close to the fold, so the shape feels a little smaller than I think it should, but it does feel pretty comfortable.

I used the same thin elastic for all my face covering makes, as I felt that thicker elastic might cause a problem if it caught the back of the glasses arm behind the ear.


Patterns used:
Shaped Face Covering – the Big Community Sew
Pleated Face Covering – the Big Community Sew
Children’s Shaped Face Covering – the Big Community Sew
Children’s Olson Face Covering
3D Mask Template – See Kate Sew
Face Covering Pouch – Hobbycraft blog