2020 take 12 challenge – #9 masks, masks and more masks

I’ve got a bit distracted over the last couple of weeks making face masks. Going through my fabric stash I realised I had enough leftovers from 12 years of sewing to fill a large laundry basket, and was determined to do something with it all, rather than it just keeping getting larger.

I started off trying to sell the fabric for donations for MHA and did sell a bit, but the new rules about wearing face masks in shops gave me a new opportunity and I became a one woman mask making factory every evening for about a week.

I have to admit I was a bit slow off the mark in getting started, didn’t have a pattern and had to ask my mum how to make them. Once I got into it I enjoyed going through my offcuts working out which ones were big enough, and got quite a production line going.

I used a pattern free method where you hem a rectangle of fabric, iron in half and add in a nose bar. You then put three folds into each side of the fabric, and sew those in place at the same time as adding in the elastic.

I’m really chuffed that I’ve made over £93 for MHA. ( and I’ve five got a few left if anyone wants one).

IMG_20200724_084622 (1)IMG_20200725_121000masks

Right, now back to my big coat. I will finish it one day!

2020 take 12 challenge -#8 New Look K6217

Can you tell I’m off work this week? That and the Monkey binge watching PJ Masks after it magically re-appeared on Netflix means I’ve had a lot of time to sew over the last few days.

With lockdown my work wear has changed. I discovered after the first few weeks that having work wear of some sort helps me get in the zone for work, but I still don’t need to be as smart as I would be in the office.  The copy of my favourite People Tree top I made a couple of months ago has been great and got a lot of wear and so I wanted other, similar, tops for the summer.

A while (about 6 years) ago when I was getting into dressmaking I bought a lot of sewing magazines.  I’ve kept hold of most of the patterns I got free with those, and one of those was New Look K6217. It didn’t really speak to me at the time, but looked like some decent basic patterns so it stayed.


Once my awesome camera fabric arrived from Gather N Sew I decided view B of this pattern was my best bet as the fabric is very soft and slippy and it didn’t look like it had enough structure for the other top patterns I have to hand.


This is a pretty straightforward pattern with only three pattern pieces but it became a lesson in sewing lightweight fabric and bias binding.  The fabric was a bit of a challenge to cut out, it moves so easily and if the pattern wasn’t pinned right to the edge everything moved as you cut.  As I moved on with the project I started using my rotary wheel and cutting board with random items from the dining table as pattern weights. That was so much easier as long as the pattern piece was small enough to fit on my mat.

For the construction I decided to use french seams. The fabric was so fine and looked like it would fray I decided this would make the whole thing look neater. I’m now pretty confident with french seams after all my Fifi sets so didn’t make my typical error of sewing it the wrong way round at the start.

The pattern says to use bought bias binding but a) I didn’t have any and b) I thought it would look better with the same fabric, so I made my own.  This is another thing I’m confident with from the Fifi tops, and used the pattern pieces from that to make it. Attaching the binding is where I made a couple of errors. When I sewed the back of the binding on I did it with the right side of the top facing me, as I thought that would make the stitching neater. Unfortunately what it actually meant was that I missed a load of the binding and had to go back and stitch over it again. I also forgot to fold over the end of the binding at the start and finish so ended up doing a bit of a bodge job to get it finished.

Given how lightweight the fabric is I decided that the top would benefit from a bit more weight so used bias binding on the arms and the hem.  I’m pleased with how that turned out as it goes make the top a bit less floaty.


The final part of the pattern was adding in a button and a button loop, the hardest bit of that was deciding which button to use!


I’ve recently put all my fabric offcutts together and realised that I’m got a large laundry basket worth of leftover fabric.  I’ve been trying to give some of it away for donations for MHA and definitely don’t want to add much more too it. I love this fabric so decided to try and get another Fifi top out of it.  I don’t have enough for the whole set, but did manage to get the top cut out. After cutting it out I had a crisis of confidence and thought  I was 90 degrees out on the grainline, but looking at the photo again I think I was okay. I’m not going to blog about that one as I think three blogs on one pattern would be too much even for me to be interested in.


40 before 40 #8 – go to the theatre

I actually completed this last October but have just realised that I never posted about it. Before I wrote my 40 before 40 list the last time I went to the theatre was to see The Book of Mormon in about 2011 and before that with work colleagues to see something at The Old Vic in 2006. So as you can see, I’m not a big theatre goer.

This time we went to see The Gruffalo at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham. It was a great show and the Monkey’s first trip to the theatre. It was fascinating watching her start to understand what was going on.  To start off with I think she was expecting someone to come and sit on the stage and read the story to her.  Once it did begin she started asking when the next character was going to come onto the stage, but then she got into it and really enjoyed the whole thing.

It’s 9 months since we went and last week she brought it up out of the blue again, and telling me all about the snake, the owl and the mouse again.

IMG_20191011_124343IMG_20191011_132212IMG_20191011_132334IMG_20191011_132540 The tram there was also a hit too!

2020 take 12 challenge -#7 a glow in the dark dinosaur dress!

Yep, how cool is that, a glow in the dark dinosaur dress! Not for me, unfortunately, but for the Monkey.

This ended up being a two dresses for one project as I made a practice one which the Monkey loved and ended up wearing to nursery the morning I finished it. I found the fabric online at Gather ‘N’ Sew in Bourne. I went there when picking up some baby things which had been handed on to us just before the Monkey was born and had really liked it.  That time I bought the fabric for my Cat bag which I love and still use a lot. I’ve been looking for some fabric for a few new summer tops and hadn’t been finding any in the usual places I look, so decided to check them out.  I got two gorgeous fabrics for my tops and found this dinosaur fabric – win win!


As soon as she saw it the Monkey demanded a dress and a jumper from the fabric.  I couldn’t find a dress or jumper pattern in her size, but I do still have the pattern I had made to make a dress for niece #2 a few years ago. When I made it for her she had just turned 3, but the dress had been quite big on her so I thought it was worth a try. To make the practice dress I used the fabric I had left over from my Tilly and the Buttons Coco tunic and cut the pattern a scissor blade width wider than the pattern. Amazingly the fit was spot on.


The dresses themselves were quick to make. I completed everything except the neck of the first one in one evening and the whole of the second one the following night. There are only four pattern pieces for the whole and because the sleeves are raglan sleeves they went in very easily.  I also hadn’t included a neck band which sped things up. I think the dresses would have looked better with a neckband, but the Monkey is very pleased with them both. Apparently she was explaining to one of her friends at nursery that I had made her this dress out of fabric.


2020 take 12 challenge – #6 another Fifi set

I don’t usually make a repeat of a pattern so soon after my first attempt, but the Fifi set is so comfortable I couldn’t resist. I had bought this fabric without a proper plan for it, I was possibly thinking about making a blouse, but when I felt it again it just screamed Fifi  at me and I felt motivated.

Because I knew what I was doing it was a quicker make this time round, and apart from one mistake – starting my first seam the wrong way round to make a french seam – I think it was better made too.

I solved that first mistake by doing a triple seam which seems to have worked and not been too bulky.  The two main challenges I had the first time I made this pattern were getting the cup to fit into the bodice and the elastic on the bottoms. Both of these challenges went much better this time. For the top it was a case of just paying a bit more attention to matching the two curves together. I found the waistband more interesting. I didn’t have the right sized elastic. For my first version I went for elastic which as a bit smaller than required and for this one I used some that was a bit bigger.  The bigger option was definitely the way to go. It was firmer and came together better into a more substantial waste-band.


2020 take 12 challenge – # 5 – baskets

Last year year one of my friends had a baby. I’d intended to make her a welcome to the world present, but I didn’t find any inspiration for what to make. I actually finished these pre-lockdown, but it took me a while to post them and write this up.

The new baby (not so new now, she’s just had her first birthday!) has an older sister, so I figured at some point in her life she’d appreciate having something that was definitely hers, that her big sister couldn’t claim and run off with. And that became my criteria, something with her name on that she wouldn’t grow out of. Finally I found what I was looking for.  The best crochet book I have is A little course in crochet which explains techniques well and well sound projects that actually work and don’t contain mistakes.

In that book is a project to make a project basket, which I decided to base this present on.  The pattern itself is pretty simple, one main colour with a few contrast bands on the foldover edge.  My plan was to be a bit more adventurous and attempt to add her name into the actual basket.  Luckily this book also includes instructions on how to create colour patterns within crochet, using either the jacquard or intarsia methods.  For this project I generally used the jacquard method where you hide the thread you are not using inside the stitch you are making, and then swap them over when you change colour.

Once I’d got my head around it it worked very nicely and had the added benefit of making the sides of the basket sturdier as there was an extra row of thread for much of it.

This was also a very portable project as none of the baskets are that big.  It ended up being my go distraction on a Sunday morning when I look my daughter pre-school trampolining lessons, I enjoyed the combination!  I wonder when we’ll be able to do that again, although it has been fun randomly coming across her class mates on our walks around the village recently.



2020 take 12 challenge – #4 – copy of a top

What to do, you’ve got some gorgeous lightweight fabric and the sun is beginning to come out? Well make a copy of one of your favorite summer tops of course.

To be fair I only had 1 1/2 meters of the fabric and it has a very distinct pattern needing matching so a complicated pattern was out. The patterns in the book I also looked in for inspiration Feminine Wardrobe I discovered are also too small for me and I didn’t fancy trying to scale them all up.

So I ended up going from this:


To this:


The original is from People Tree and a very simple construction with only five pieces, plus the cord. To make it I pinned out the original and made a copy.  I then added in a seam allowance and a little more as I wanted it to be slightly wider and longer. I found that a little tricky to calculate and it ended up being a bit bigger than I had planned, but still very wearable. As I made it bigger I found I also had a recalculate the shoulder seams ensure they matched together.


Cutting out I focused on pattern matching, making sure the lines of ladies matched up. I didn’t try and match individual figures but was very pleased with how my lines stayed consistent all the way round, even on the shoulder. I used french seams for the whole thing as the fabric is so light and double rolled hems too. Finally I added the neck band,used a button hole as the front opening, made and added in the neck tie.



2020 take 12 challenge – #3 Fifi – Tilly and the Buttons

My latest project is the Tilly and the Buttons Fifi pattern. I wanted to try sewing with lighter fabric and really enjoyed this pattern.

I found some gorgeous black cotton lawn with paper bird patterns from Guthrie and Ghani. The advice on the pattern is not to choose a fabric with an obvious direction as the top is cut on the bias and the shorts straight. This fabric was perfect because the birds point in a variety of directions so I got interest without it looking odd.

The make itself was relatively straightforward but enjoyable. I made sure I took my time and didn’t skip any steps as with light fabric, especially when it is bias cut, the details in the process are what stop the fabric pulling out of shape the end result looking odd.

All the seams are french seams which is time consuming, but means the end result looks very neat. I was also impressed with how my bias binding straps turned out, a lot more professional looking than I was expecting.

The only bit I was’t 100% happy with was the waistband but this is partly because I had to compromise and use slightly too narrow elastic, with the lock down and everything it was that or don’t finish – but it’s not the end of the world and the final product is totally wearable. I’m very pleased.


2020 take 12 challenge – #2 -Colette Iris shorts

IMG_20200302_090404IMG_20200302_090413IMG_20200302_090535I bought this pattern a couple of years ago before I had been on my trouser sewing course. I had a theory that starting with a simple shorts pattern would be a sensible way to start trouser sewing.

Having made the pattern I’m not so convinced. The sewing of the pattern itself was straightforward but not very interesting and I still wouldn’t have been able to get the fit right without having been on the course. As it was the toille seemed to fit fine (without a zip fitted) but I still had to take 3-4 cm off the back seem of the finished product.

I had enough linen and lining fabric left over from my Narcisse trousers to make these shorts in the same fabric. I do like the colour and the pattern, but if I was to make them again I would lower the waist a little as having it on my true waist is a bit high for me.

My other learning from making these is that if I want to make something interesting beginning patterns aren’t for me anymore. I found myself making silly mistakes because I wasn’t concentrating because the process wasn’t holding my interest. Which also means I should concentrate whatever I am making!


2020 take 12 challenge – #1 – Brice knit jumpsuit and dress

I’ve decided that I didn’t sew and make enough last year and I want to make a better use of my time this year than spending my evenings crashed on the sofa wasting time on the internet. So I’ve set myself a challenge. The challenge is to make and blog about 12 projects during 2020. It doesn’t have to be one a month as i decided that may not be realistic but to have done 12 by the end of the year.

My first project is the Style Arc Brice jumpsuit. I also made the dress version but only the jumpsuit was made this year and so is the only one to count for my challenge.

I bought the fabric for both the dress and the jumpsuit at the awesome Sew Wardrobe when I was there for my sewing course and bought the pattern online from there last summer too.

Following on from my sewing course I decided to practice what I had learnt and make a toille of the jumpsuit before I got started. To do this I used some spare fabric I had left from making my mum a Tilly and the Buttons – Coco tunic.

I only had enough to make a short legged version and it ended up looking like I should be in the navy somewhere but I’m so pleased I did. It showed me that whilst I could fit, the pattern was a bit tight and the waist too high for me. I needed to add 4cm onto the front and the back of the top. It was also really useful to have a go at following the pattern before a proper attempt as the pattern is pretty light on instructions and assumes a relatively high level of sewing knowledge. It was fine as I discovered I have that knowledge, but look a bit of getting used to.

After this I decided to go for the dress version first. To make this I used a very exciting scuba fabric. It’s the first time I’ve sewn with scuba and Alison in the shop assured me it was really simple.  And it actually was. I followed her advice and used a normal needle on my machine and didn’t overlock my edges. The only real challenge I had was getting the V at the front right. The fabric was quite bulky and so I struggled to get that to sit properly. It probably didn’t help that I also messed up the interfacing which made the front facing sit funny before you put it on.  I also followed Alison’s advice and used a zip instead of buttons. That worked fine and just took a bit of concentration to adapt the pattern. The only other adjustment I made was to make the waist ties longer. I made them as long as I could with the half width of the fabric. The longer ties worked really well and made it look less like a belt drawing attention to my tummy.


Finally I moved onto the jumpsuit. I made this in a gorgeous Ponte Roma with a peacock feather pattern. Now I was on my third version of this pattern it was a pretty simple make, appart from breaking an overlocker needle (again) and having to go back to using a zigzag stitch on my sewing machine.

I used the full seam allowance on this version which I didn’t do for the dress so it is a bit tighter fitting, but it still fits well and the extra length on the top and lower waist works well for me. I also did the longer waist ties again and for both versions didn’t include the elastic at the waist. It really didn’t seem to add anything.

This was the first time I made the button loops and added buttons. I followed the patter and the loops ended up quite chunky so I needed chunky buttons and ended up using beads my mum brought back for me from a holiday years ago. Possibly Turkey, but I can’t actually remember. I think they work well.

To finish both outfits off I added my new Lulu sews makers labels. My awesome Christmas present from my lovely husband. I’m so excited to have them to properly finish off my outfits now.