Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Wobbly Necks and Two Right Legs Leggings

I know I said I’d do the iguana skirt next but it’s gonna have to wait, sorry.  So in the meantime here’s the T-shirt and leggings.

I am somewhat abashed by the compliments and the comments about how I sewed 6 items for Jungle January – but I’ll let you in on the secret – the T-shirts take 45 mins each and the leggings 30 mins! So that’s a grand total of 2 1/2 hrs for 4 things – not so impressive now, huh?


If I can do this in a few hours, then so can you. Both patterns are easy to cut out and sew and of course, sewing with knits makes them even easier. And while your machine is threaded with the same the colour thread you may as well use it!


Let’s start at the top.

Pattern is Katherine Tilton for Vogue 8793. Four pieces – front & back on the fold, sleeves and a neckband. The pattern comes with instructions for contrasts and bands and zip embellished necklines but you can keep it simple if you want to. I just used the front, back and sleeve bits.

When sewing with knits I always sew the shoulders first, then attach the neckband, sew the sleeves in – all while the garment is flat and then finish with a continuous side seam – all along the sleeve and down to the hem. Hem the sleeves and body and it’s ready to wear.

Nothing new there but does this ever happen with your T-shirt neckbands?


Too long and too loose? And the only fix is to rip it all out and start again – but wait……. don’t be too hasty with that ol’ seam ripper-outer.

Dig through your bits and bobs box and see if can’t collect together some sequins, small buttons, beads and other assorted glittery things. Failing that, spend 50p on a tube of such like at your local craft shop.

Let the neckband fall naturally where it is apparently comfortable, while you gently coerce it into folds and pleats all the way around. Secure these artistic flourishes with pins. Using old fashioned needle and thread, hand sew the pleats in place, adding the shiny things as you go.

DSC00775 DSC00776

Now you not only have a neat and well fitting neckband, but you’ve got embellishment too! Oh, and sew the shiny things ALL the way around the neck (including the back) – this isn’t RTW, you know. I hate that! You pick up a top in a shop and admire the embroidery or whatever on the front only to turn it around and the back is plain – plain cheap!

Pattern adjustments made on this version include:

5″ added to length to make more a tunic than a T-shirt

6″ added to sleeve length – the sleeves are really long but I wear them pushed up for a scrunched up (ruched) sort of look.

Neckline is lowered 1.5″ at the centre front.


For this one’s sister there were no fancy adjustments or embellishments but I did learn how to sew the neckband properly. Measure the neck opening, subtract 2″ and that’s the ideal neckband length!

I suppose this might vary depending on fabric and stretchability but it worked a treat on this version. My preferred method of attaching the neckband is to sew the ends, fold wrong sides together and either overlock or zig zag the folded band to the neck of the T-shirt. A good pressing turning the seam in works great.

I was running out of fabric by the time I got round to sewing this one, so the sleeves are somewhat shorter than they should be – heck – just an excuse to show off bangles!

OK OK I agree – a middle aged woman in leggings *%!&* but if you’re interested for teenage daughters (or sons) here it is…..


McCalls 6173 view B.


And what’s so brilliant about view B?

Well, there’s only ONE piece!

Yep, one. A whole leg with a fold over waistband.

Pattern reviewers recommend cutting a size smaller than usual – so I did. Don’t you just love it when someone else has made the mistakes for you?

My animal print ones were made from leftover scraps from the T-shirt. There wasn’t a lot to play with and that one leg pattern piece is fairly wide (at least my size is!). I twisted and turned and pulled and flipped and eventually I could just about place the single pattern piece on two bits of fabric. Hurray!

Got the serger (overlocker) out and whizzed up the single inside seam in about 3 mins flat. Turned one leg right sides out to stuff it down the other one getting ready to line up and sew the single centre crotch seam and then I realised………..can you?


Two right legs! In all my efforts to make sure I had enough fabric, I cut the two pieces of fabric both facing up. I carried on sewing regardless – but my centre seam veers off at an angle. Believe me, no-one is ever going to see these leggings without voluminous hip and thigh coverings, so I’m not that bothered.


Having learned this valuable lesson, the black pair sewed up just fine. The instructions tell you to sew the waistband down and thread the elastic though. I always seem to lose my safety pin though. This method is quicker and neater:

1. Measure your waist with the elastic, stretch gently as you do this (not too tight though) and add 1″ for overlapping the ends. Cut to the required length.

2. Fold the elastic in half and mark with a pin; fold in half again and mark the quarters with pins. Pin the overlapping ends at the centre back seam; the half-way pin at the centre front and the two quarters at either side.

3. Stitch with a zig-zag or overlock the elastic directly to the inside edge of the waistband, gently stretching as you sew to ensure the quarters are evenly distributed.


4. Trim off any floppy bits of fabric. Fold the waistband over enclosing the elastic and zig-zag closed.

Job done and no lost safety pins!

Next time, I promise without fail – the iguana skirt and manipulation to Vogue 1247. Until then…….. Roarrrrr on!