Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane



Many of my blogging buddies seem to be taking sabbaticals – as I apparently have too – although not intentionally. Things just get in the way. I’ve been sewing and making, just not taking photos, posing, showing and telling. As the Easter holidays are fast approaching I should have more spare time and I’ll try to make more of an effort; attempting to match my blogging with my sewing.

I’ll start with a nice little simple  jumper (UK), sweater (US) – did I get that right? A gentle slide back into blogging. A useful top layer on chillier days and summer evenings.

I started with Vogue 9193 Marcy Tilton top and pants and a soft wool mix from Sherwood p1030377Fabrics in a very delicate shell pink (it comes in pale blue too). The knitted fabric has a lace-like quality. Easy pattern with cut on sleeves, scooped neck and loose fitting. Each pattern piece is cut on a single layer because of the slanted hemline, so pin everything on before cutting just in case……..

V9193I only cut out the top sections of the pattern, not the bottom bits with the pocket and lengthened one side to 22″ and the other to 26″ for an asymmetrical hemline.

The edges are finished with the selvedge for a neatness.

I added one patch pocket on the longer side just because.

There was a leftover piece of the knit fabric and I’ve been seeing a lot of poncho/shrug things in the shops. On closer inspection, these are a bit of fabric folded over with a seam at one shoulder and a hole for the head. Easy-peasy.

I took my bit of fabric, folded it, seamed the open edge, overlocked the long edges, found a button that matched and stitched this mid way.DSCN6967

I have two openings in my version of the poncho/shrug and can wear it diagonally over my jumper to offset the asymmetry and add an extra layer. One hole for my head , the other for my arm.


But the little add-on can be worn as a hood or as a draped scarf – very versatile.


Worn today with a pair of burgundy wool Clovers, from Colette this shade of pink seems to go with practically every other colour. It’s almost a neutral.


There you are – a soft re-entry back to blogging with a soft and easy jumper.




Remember Clover?

You know that flush of enthusiasm and excitement you feel when you get new fabric?

I had thought I’d go all classy and monochrome and so I have been stocking up on whites, ivory, blacks, monochrome tweed etc. But the fabric bundles just sat there as I became increasingly distracted by colourful chiffon prints and orange mohair. I did manage to make a black and white coat which has seen a lot of wear recently but I deviated big time.

Miss Diana from Chrysalis sends out her winter ’14 samples and I succumbed. I ordered a wool twill in the most delicious colour called dark chilli, a couple of metres of the softest thistle coloured knit and, wait for it, shiny gold denim! The sewing machine has been smokin’!






First up, the wool twill: No. 29, Dark chilli chocolate, 100% Wool, 144cms, Pure wool Venetian twill.

A fantastic colour that is brown when brown is placed beside it, aubergine when purples are present and a good dark neutral for loads of other colours and it isn’t black! The fabric is fairly heavy so no flowing skirts or wide-legged trousers but something tailored and fitted. Most of my trouser patterns (apart from jeans) are wide legged having decided some time ago that this was my preferred style and suits me best. I did, however, jump on the Clover bandwagon a few years ago and I dug out the pattern again.

Kate has been forensically investigating tailored trousers for her impressive SWAP ’15 and maybe she subversively sent me down the slim legged trouser route – I’m glad she did.

DSCN4853A cold but wintery bright morning to showcase Clovers 2014.

Fully lined, with turn-ups, a lapped side zip and the cute front pockets. The new 7/8ths length to show off shoes and boots.




The pattern stipulates a fabric with a little bit of stretch – 2% Lycra or such, but this wool twill has none. These are not yoga pants!

To complete the Clovers I had to go to a real live shop for lining and thread. Armed with my swatch, I bumped into the remnants rack and found a cotton poplin that otherwise I wouldn’t have looked twice at but the colours were perfect: yellows, purples, browns, touch of green. On the spot I realised I needed a blouse to wear with the Clovers.



And then I needed a cardigan to go with the Clovers and the blouse….. off to Minerva to pick up another batch of knitted mohair but this time in saffron yellow.




and of course I had the original thistle knit, which just happened to co-ordinate with the Clovers and the blouse……


So from one pair of trousers, I have linked a blouse and two cardis, and re-invigorated a lot of other items in my wardrobe.

In the meantime, have a great New Year: may you all have good sewing, good ideas and to quote

may your bobbin never run out half way through the hemming……”


  • Trousers – Colette Clover
  • Blouse – Kwik Sew 3782 (OOP, shame as this is an all time favourite)
  • Yellow cardi – Burda pattern 08/2012/117D with mods   
  • Thistle cardi – self-drafted: How to make the thistle waistcoat in the next posting….



Rolling in Clover

Nearly the end of the day and the Clovers are done.
OK OK OK, so you were all right and I was wrong – after the toile (muslin) and fitting and cutting and clipping and trimming and re-sewing that was involved in the first pair, today’s just sewed up fine, first time around, including the zip! 
In fact I had time to spare, so I made a few additions to the pattern.
If you’re really interested, I cut a 12 on the fronts and a 10 for the backs and did a bit of taking in at the waist, which is normal for me and trousers (pants) that sit at the natural waist line. 
I intended to do a quick sew – couple of hours at most and then concentrate on the vintage jacket, but Frabjous made me feel guilty, so I at least made an attempt at proper sewing and zig-zag stitched the seam allowances. After trying the trousers(pants) on, the fineness of the fabric became clear and I desired a more substantial feel to them. So, also in keeping with proper sewing, I decided to line them and found some cheap stretchy lining fabric in the box. Clover 2 fabric came from My Fabrics – it is quite a fine wool with 3% lycra, an orange pin stripe and looked dark brown on the computer screen but in real life is more khaki. Now I have to make something else to wear with them!
Now, pay attention, I am going to try to explain a brilliant way of attaching lining to a waistband. I read this at Paco‘s tutorial about his half-circle skirt – it is not my idea but I believe this method is used in RTW. It is simple, easy to do and hides all the stitches. I usually hand stitch lining to the waistband, but today was about quick sewing.
Construct your Clovers as per the step-by-step instructions that Colette have written until you reach attaching the waistband facing.  Attach the waistband facing but do not turn under or finish the raw edge. Sew up the lining pieces, only the legs no waistbands needed.  Sew your lining to this edge, right sides together.  The positioning of this can be a bit tricky making sure that the lining is the correct way. Pin and turn the right way out just to make sure. When happy – sew. On the left is an image of what it should like like: left – trousers, then the interfaced waistband, the facing and the lining. All inside out. Do not trim seam allowances.
Keeping the garment inside out, pinch the seam allowances from the facing and lining with the seam allowance of the trouser (pants) and waistband. Match up the notches etc to avoid twisting the fabrics.
The waistband is now folded over on the outside like the finished garment, but it’s a mess inside. That’s fine – carry on. You are aiming to trap the interfacing between the seam allowances. Sew.

Now you can trim. Flip the lining right way out and stuff down the legs and voila, all the seams are hidden with invisible stitching. 
The downside is that you might have to figure out another method than Colette recommend for attaching the waistband facing to the zip. I just folded everything to the inside out of the way and slip stitched the facing and lining to the zip tape. See, a real bit of sewing!

The changes I made to Clover 2 are –

  1. Cut the waistband on the cross grain to get a horizontal stripe across the top.
  2. Lined, see above.
  3. Added turn-ups (cuffs).
  4. Did not fret or agonise over a few wrinkles – these are looser that Clover 1 but feel just as secure because of the lining.

My method for making and attaching the turn-ups (cuffs) is not scientific in the least. Here’s what I did. Made two bands, on the cross-grain, to match the waistband, folded them over wrong sides together, lining up the the edges with the bottom of the legs and straight sewed them to the leg hem line. Trimmed and zig-zagged. Turned them to the outside (right way out) of the legs and steam pressed them into position. Needle and thread time again – slip stitched the turn-ups(cuffs) to the legs so that they don’t fall down when walking. Done.

Now follows some unintentional special effects photography of the finished article. 

Invisible zippers that are gradually becoming invisible!
Turn-up (cuff)
Side view
Front view

Thanks for reading. Ruth


Compensation Clovers

I think I understand the emotional loyalties Clover has created. It was not, and is not, my my intention to ever distress anyone and I know we all have our favourite pattern makers in much the same way that we all have our own personal style preferences. It’s what makes the world an interesting place to live. If any of you ever complained about a Vogue pattern I’d delete you from my bloglist and post anonymous comments on your blog! Only joking…..

I know I nerped (moaned) about the fit of Clover but Knitter’s Delight was right, the next 1,5m of stretch wool has already been ordered and delivered  in anticipation of the second pair gracing my legs. I suppose pattern companies are a little like RTW, a size 14 in one shop is a completely different fit in another.

So, no more complaining – just sewing.

Today is a strike day for public sector workers in the UK. I am certainly not going to put my tuppence worth in here about the value of strikes or what they achieve – I mean, I was electronically berated about a pair of trousers (pants) only last week! My union called for strike action and as a teacher I am a public sector worker, so I’m playing the conformist.

I’ll lose a day’s pay but gain a day’s sewing. Life’s just full of compensations.

So by end of play today I should have another pair of Clovers RTW. And on that subject…… While I’m doing quick, easy things – you know Pants in a Day, sort of thing, I read Frabjous. Oh the guilt and inadequacy is overwhelming – she’s doing full haute couture – underlining, seam finishes – the works on a pair of Clovers. Absolutely brilliant!

So I might just line this new pair to make me feel better about myself.

Also, so that I feel I’m contributing something worthwhile to the international sewing community, I thought I’d share this little tip. For some of you this may seem to be the most obvious thing in the world and you’re probably already doing it but I only just figured it out recently –

When you find a pattern that you know will be made over and over (TNT), after cutting out, fold all the pieces carefully with the number or letter and piece name facing out – it only takes a few minutes. Then the next time you’re making the garment, all the pieces are easy to find and you recover the lost minutes spent folding them in the first place. See, compensations are everywhere.

Thanks for reading. Ruth


Let’s Talk about Clover

OK, where do I start?

Honesty I think. First of all, I am not a brilliant fashion designer; I cannot draft my own patterns; I have mediocre sewing skills; I am useless at styling; I do not possess a perfect body shape, not even in proportion to itself; but I have NEVER made so many alterations for one pattern in my life!

I had to wait so long for my Colette Clover Pants patterns to arrive from the States that I missed the SewAlong completely and so I am fully aware that this post is actually out of date by now. I don’t know whether to blame the American postal system or the British – whatever – the long anticipated pattern finally arrived on Thursday. I had my fabric, thread and zip at the ready. The sewing table was cleared from the last project – everything was ready. However, Thursday evenings are parish choir practice nights, and while I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, teenage son does and I have been roped into being robes-mistress. So off to church for button sewing, surplice mending and robe hemming.

While I was awaiting the pattern’s arrival I reckon I have read every blog, review and tutorial about these trousers (pants) and reckoned I knew what watch out for: the pitfalls, the fitting issues and what the finished item was supposed to look like. Probably the guts of 20 internet hours. Everyone, it seems, who has made these pants and posted a blog made a toile (muslin). Now, in all honesty, I hardly ever make a toile (muslin). It’s just that I don’t really know what to do with them after I’ve made all the alterations. I prefer to cut large on the shell fabric and sew in from there. As this is my first Colette pattern and sizing can be different from one company to another, I checked my measurements (again) with my maybe not so reliable tape and did indeed cut a toile (muslin) in 14 from poly-cotton. And, like every body else – the toile (muslin) was a disaster! Way too big. So, like everybody else, I pinned it up and realised how much extra fabric there really was – and this wasn’t even stretch fabric.

Then I got bored. So went straight for the real thing. The chosen fabric is a super soft dark grey cotton moleskin with 3% lycra. On the reverse it looks just like black denim and I had thought of using it the wrong way out. Fabric came from

I knew I had to reduce the size, so this time I cut a 12 – first time in years!

Followed the beautifully presented instructions and tried on. Well, would you believe it? Way too big! I don’t know if you can see in this photo but the seam allowance (sewn at least twice) is 4cm (nearly 2″) and I did this on all seams, sides, front and back. I raised the crotch line too. I’m not going to bore you with actual measurements or tutorial on pants fitting – suffice to say I may as well have started with four rectangles and worked my way in.

 Let me share some other bloggers’ experiences:

msstitch made three muslins and bought two books to get her Clovers right.

Sewcult is admitting to making two muslins, but it may be more and cut two sizes down from normal.

Lladybird made three muslins and gives an in-depth account of the 1/4 and 3/8 and 1/2 inch alterations she had to make

Meladori gave up and drafted her own version. I agree with her – a modern pattern should kinda fit, even if it’s made with a stretch fabric.

It’s not all bad,  Fresa Handmade was delighted with her Clovers and needed very few alterations.

I must admit that Pricklypearcactuscandy went straight for her first pair and they turned out just fine and they do look great on her.

But really, dear readers, three muslins and still the fit is wrong! Life’s too short.

I’ve made trousers (pants) before, lots of times. I’m a Vogue Pattern girl and in every case I take the tissue pattern from the envelope, cut the 14, sew in a bit at the waist and I get a perfect fit every time – no messing about with gusset lengths or flat belly adjustments etc etc etc. OK, most trousers I make are wide legged and high waisted – no low-rise skinny jeans for me. On those rare occasions when I thought I was 22 again and I would suit this style, those jeans ended up in my denim patchwork coat.

See, no crotch issues here.
No gaping at the waist.
No frown lines. Just wrinkles from not folding correctly!

However, I have made jeans too. Figure hugging and tight. Not a crease in sight.

So why all the problems with Clover?

This is what I had to cut off and re-sew the seams with 2cm allowance.

Is it because they’re fitted?

Is it because they’re made from stretch fabric?

Is it because I’ve got curves?

Is it because Colette got their sizing wrong?

Anyway. Got the things finished and would you believe it – I love them, just like everyone else who has made them. Even wore them with the green sweater that was originally made to coordinate.

What’s even better, the zip went in first time! First time in my life, I believe.
I made the inside pockets out of red lining – they look like devil’s eyes here.
And the $60,000 question – will I make them again?