All posts by Alex

Self drafted kimono sleeve top

Hello there, I’ve got another self draft to share with you today.

This time, a short sleeved kimono top, a basic shape so I thought it would be simple to draft.  I think it has turned out ok, but wasn’t quite as simple as I had imagined!

Kimono top front 1

To create the pattern, I traced around three different top patterns I’ve made that fit reasonably well (Sewaholic Belcarra, Colette Sorbetto and Simplicity 1693), lining them up so that the waist point was the same for each trace.  Then had a bit of a gut feel attempt at drawing the kimono top pattern (aided by internet pictures to get the basic shape).

Kimono top front 3

The arms didn’t fit at all well when I first tried it on!  They were far too tight around the arms and felt a bit long so I cut about 5cm off and lowered the arm opening by about 10cm.  This meant I didn’t have enough material to create a neat finish all around the arms, but as long as no one inspects my underarms close up this should be fine!

Kimono top back

The fabric is a woven viscose from Fabric Land in Brighton.  Given the boxy style, I definitely think a drapey fabric was required.  I’m not sure if I’d like this top in a solid colour (would want to tweak the arms a bit and perhaps make a bit more fitted first), but with this spotty fabric I think it works quite well.

Kimono top front 2

All in all, I’m quite pleased with this as a first version. There are definitely improvements to be made fit wise, particularly around the arms, but I think they would be worthwhile working on as the simplicity of the style would be great for showing off interesting fabrics.

Self drafted A line skirt with pockets

At the end of my spiral into so many toiles that I nearly lost the will to sew, I started drafting an A line skirt.  Following my Belcarras reset (here and here) I thankfully had the confidence and motivation again to continue with the skirt.

Needlecord A line skirt

I started drafting this skirt from a basic pencil skirt, rotating the waist darts to create the A line shape (I calculated it so that I could remove the front darts entirely) then added in hip slant pockets using the same pocket shape as my Ginger skirt.

A line skirt hip pockets

There were a number of new to me techniques with this make, but I was able to take my time and enjoy the learning process.  The fabric is a lovely soft needlecord from Goldhawk Road and I had a go at flat felled seams as I felt they would work well with this fabric.  I did take a photo to show these seams off as I’m very happy with them, but the fabric doesn’t do detailed shots well, so you might have to trust me that there are two seams here (achieved a nice neat finish at least!):

flat felled seams

The bit that probably took the longest (but also what I’m most pleased with) was the zip.  I thought a lapped zip would work best with the fabric and wanted to try it out.  It is easy to find plenty of tutorials on how to sew a lapped zip, but I struggled to find one that explained how to get the neat finish with a facing that you see on ready to wear lapped zips.  I’d been going through a process of trying to reverse engineer this, when I happened upon this tutorial which got me on the right path much quicker.  Again, the fabric doesn’t work too well for detail shots, but hopefully you can just about make out the neat finish at the top of the zip:

Lapped zip detail

As I think this is likely to be more of a cooler weather skirt, I lined it with a pink/green acetate also from Goldhawk Road (I drafted the lining to be a little bit wider than the skirt around the hips to be on the safe side since the needlecord should have more give than the acetate).  For the facing and pocket linings I used some cotton from a decent stash of fabric that my grandma kindly gave me.

Needlecord skirt

Overall I am very pleased with this skirt – I enjoyed taking my time over the new techniques and getting a neat finish. Plus, the fabric is lovely and soft to touch, it has pockets and I think that the shape of this would lend itself well to a few more skirts in different fabrics/colours that could become easy work staples.

Yep, it is another Belcarra blouse!

My sewing juices were so well revived after making my black Sewaholic Belcarra, that it wasn’t long until I had another cut and ready to go.

Sewaholic Belcarra

I saw the main fabric for this top (a printed viscose) on the Minerva Crafts website last summer and was instantly drawn to it with this vision of a Belcarra using some black trim for the cuffs and around the neck, but at £9.99 a metre it is the most expensive fabric I’ve brought so far and back then I was too scared that I would mess it up.

Now I’m trying to be less fearful and get better at embracing mistakes as part of the learning process, so decided to treat myself and I’m very glad I did!

back view

I was rather concerned when I opened the parcel as the fabric felt crisp and stiff, not at all the drapey loveliness that I was expecting from viscose! Thankfully it soften up nicely after a pre wash. Not quite as soft and drapey as the black viscose used in my previous Belcarra (and for the contrast pieces in this one) but it still has enough drape to be suitable for this top.

One slight gripe was that the grid pattern sloped off grain about 30 cm from each selvedge and since I’d only brought a metre I couldn’t avoid using this part. You can see the pattern sloping down more on the left side of this photo, but hopefully wouldn’t have noticed if I didn’t point it out!

Sewaholic Belcarra

Although not a precise grid, I did take care when cutting to try and get the pattern roughly lining up.

side view

After taking my time cutting out, the top came together pretty smoothly. The only additional pattern change I made was to use the bias strip (half and inch narrower than the original pattern one) for a bound neckline instead of as a facing. I really like the solid black cuffs and neck edge and was even brave enough to use black thread as a contrast for the cuff and hem stitching.

Neck and cuff detail

I’ll move on to a different pattern next, but I doubt this will be my last Belcarra. I’m already feeling the need for an ivory or cream version for summer…

Knitted mittens

Despite the warm sunny weather we’ve been having in London, it is time to share some of my knitting with you!

For the past few years most of my knitting has been self drafted, which has meant slow projects and these mittens were no exception.


The mittens were made for a lovely friend of mine who is often doing sweet, thoughtful things for me so I wanted to make her something as a way of giving back. We picked out the yarn at John Lewis (Sirdar Montana double knitting shade 0200), I took a few measurements, she told me the kind of style she liked then I set to work.

I’ve made myself some gloves before which thankfully were about the right size for her so I could use that pattern as a rough base. There was still quite a bit of unpicking and reworking though as I experimented with the shaping and also to get a nice colour distribution since using the yarn as is would have resulted in a much longer green section.

Shamefully I have to admit that these were finished a winter later than intended, but my friend was very patient and grateful when they were finally complete. Their first outing was a walk through the London royal parks on a pretty cold winter day so we warmed up with some yummy hot chocolate after 🙂

mittens and hot chocolate

Getting my sewing mojo back with a black Belcarra

After all my recent fitting and toiling, making this Sewaholic Belcarra blouse felt wonderful!  I could enjoy taking my time getting a good finish as I knew I’d have a well fitting garment at the end of it.

Belcarra 4 front

The black one is actually my fourth Belcarra blouse – I made this third flowery version shortly after my second from a lovely viscose fabric brought on Goldhawk Road.

Belcarra 3 front

For the third Belcarra, I used a narrower bias strip and sewed it on using a 3/8 inch seam allowance to make the neckline a little smaller.  It doesn’t feel like the neckline actually is any smaller, but I wonder if I had stretched the neckline out a little, so for the fourth version I made sure to stay stitch the neckline as soon as I’d cut out the fabric.

I also had a valuable lesson in paying attention when using scissors near fabric when I snipped some of the sleeve while trimming the french seam.  Oops!  Luckily, it was only small and near the underarm so just took a little darning and isn’t really visible.

Belcarra 3 hole

The only niggle I have with the third version is that the fold on the cuffs doesn’t want to lie flat after washing.  I suspect this could mean that I didn’t cut the fabric exactly on the bias.  Hence for this fourth Belcarra, I really took my time over the cutting.

The fabric for the black Belcarra is my first online fabric purchase – this viscose from Minerva Crafts.  It is wonderfully soft and drapey and it comes in twelve other colours so I’ll no doubt be ordering more soon.

Black Bercarra side view

I had thought about going for the pin tuck sleeves version since I was using a solid colour, but a plain and simple (but well made) black top was what I really wanted.  Perhaps not the most exciting blog make, but a top I am very pleased with and one that should get lots of wear 🙂

What I’ve been sewing, or not

Hello! I’ve been quiet on here for a few months now, not because I haven’t been creating, but because I have been in a bit of a creative rut. However, the intention of this blog is to document my creative journey, the good and the bad, so let me fill you in on what I’ve been up to…

After making making a few tops and skirts that I am happy with, I wanted my next project to be a dress. I’m not very keen in the idea of always having to go through the fitting process when using a new pattern, so wanted to make a classic sheath dress that I could then use as a block and adapt into different styles.

McCalls 2401 seemed to fit the bill nicely and I’d brought some lovely needlecord that I thought would work well in the sleeveless slash neck version if I widened the hem a little (as I don’t like skirts that restrict my movement) and added some patch pockets.

McCalls 2401

Good plan so far, but I then while going through the fitting process I ended up working towards an ever moving target which went something like this:

  • Two toiles of the dress, but still struggling with getting it fitting at the back, so converted what I’d done into just a bodice
  • Two bodice toiles that were getting there on the fit, but then…
  • Decided that I wanted this to now be a general block with sleeves, but adding them in didn’t go at all well as I’d changed the armscye too much (I couldn’t even do the zip up, my arms were so restricted!)
  • Somehow I decided that the easiest thing to do would be to switch to the Sewaholic Alma pattern(?!?), but that really just got me back to square one as I had now had not only back, but bust and hip fit issues to contend with again
  • Starting to despair with getting a bodice to fit, I changed direction completely and started drafting an A line skirt using the pencil skirt I’d made as a starting point
  • This probably went better than I thought at the time but after adding in pockets and creating all the pattern pieces I started having doubts about whether I was really happy enough with the fit and shape to cut into my nice fabric 🙁

Argh! At this point I really started to despair with all the work that felt like it was leading nowhere except a growing collection of toiles (made from old bedding that was going to be thrown out):

All the toiles

I’ve realised I need a reset and the satisfaction of completing something wearable, so have ordered some black viscose and will make another Belcarra as I can go straight to cutting and should have something I’ll actually want to wear soon. Fingers crossed anyway!

Interestingly, Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch has recently written a post that touches on overfitting, I most definitely seem to have fallen into this trap!

Have you ever gotten stuck in a rut like this?

It’s a bird…It’s a plane…It’s Superminion!

Following the popularity of the previous minions in my family, I wanted to make one for my sister too.  Her request was for a nerdy crossover minion, which prompted some fun research seeing all the amazing pictures people have done of minions as various film characters.  I decided to go for a very recognisable (and not overly complicated as I was a bit pushed for time) character, which also has a nice ring to it – Superminion!


It was fun to get back to the design phase around how best to make his outfit.  In my first attempt I did all layers of the body (head, shirt, belt and pants) as stripes in one piece, but the belt looked more like a belly (bringing up visions of Homer Simpson instead of a superhero!) so I unpicked and just transitioned from shirt to pants and made a separate belt.  The cape took a bit of reworking to get the right shape, but I’m happy with the result.

Superminion side view

Superminion back view

I’m afraid I didn’t take a series of adventure shots of the minions this time, but here’s a few of the whole gang and of Superminion tackling some monsters!

All five minions

Superminion and Anna

Minions and Disney card

Superminion vs monsters

Superminion flying over New York