October #sewmystyle2018 Klum House Workshop Portsmith Tote bag

Hi everyone! This is another winning make for The Monthly Stitch Indie Pattern Month! This make was for week 2 ‘anything but clothes‘ and I love it when sewing challenges collide as this is also my entry for October Sew My Style 2018. This is the Portsmith Tote bag from Klum House Workshop. The pattern is super simple (just two rectangles!) and they recommend you buy the kit or at the very least the strapping. I think that’s almost cheating, (plus I live in the UK and would have no time to wait for stuff to be shipped over) so I thought I’d cobble it together with things I already had. My favourite kind of sewing!

I bought some cork fabric nearly a year ago from the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, and it’s been languishing in my stash waiting for the right pattern. My original plan was to pair it with some pewter coloured pleather that I also had in my stash. It very soon became apparent that the pleather was waaay too stretchy to be used as a bag so it got used for the following Monthly Stitch challenge instead (more on that next week).

Instead, I found some black vinyl that I originally used to re-cover some dining room chairs. When I got my fabrics together I was really disappointed to find that there was not enough of the cork. I really wanted the cork to be at the top of the bag because I didn’t think it would be robust enough to handle being the bottom. So what I did was chop the cork piece in half and sew a strip of vinyl in the middle of both cork pieces, so it reached the size of the pattern piece. I then cut another piece of vinyl for the base piece which reinforces the bottom. There’s a bit of a ridge there but I’m calling it a design feature!

Despite this pratting around, it really didn’t take long to sew this because the pattern is so easy.


The pattern instructions get you to fold the bottom of the bag in a particular way but this meant that I had a lot of layers of thick vinyl. I did try to sew it on my machine but it wasn’t having any of it! I ended up hand sewing it which took ages and was very painful.

Once this was done the bulk of the bag was finished. Just a nice deep hem at the top and the handles to attach. It was the handles that took the most time. Most of the time was spent thinking of the best way of making and attaching them.

I decided to use my left over vinyl to make some straps. I watched a video on YouTube on how to sew leather straps (I’m sorry, I can’t seem to find it now to link it) and adapted the idea to suit.


Above is the vinyl cut out using a rough pattern. I used a craft knife to cut it out.


I interfaced the ends of the strap piece as this is the bit that’s attached to the bag. I then sandwiched a piece of rope (1cm-ish diameter) in the folded strap and used clips to keep it in place.

I then sewed down the sides with my zipper foot attachment on my sewing machine….


…and trimmed off the excess seam allowance.


I actually sewed the straps on to the bag, rather than just riveting them on like the pattern instructions suggest. However, I liked the look of the rivets so I took the nearest thing, eyelets, and installed them instead.


Installing eyelets really is terrifying! I hate poking holes in my hard work but it had to be done and thankfully I didn’t mess it up!


So here’s the finished bag! I really like it but I’m not sure how sturdy it will be. I won’t be carrying around really heavy shopping in it – I’m worried about those handles stretching out a bit.



See you next week!


Pippi Pinafore for IPM dresses week

Hello again! It’s Indie Pattern Month (IPM) again over on the Monthly Stitch which always gets me in the mood for some fast sewing.  The first week was ‘dresses’ week.  For this I wanted to use a fabric that a colleague of mine very kindly gifted to me as it was taking up too much space in his house and wasn’t being used. He gave me 7 bags, each containing 3+ metres of quality suiting fabric, one of which was this 100% black wool made locally in Huddersfield.


I originally was going to try and find a suitable indie pattern in my stash (I favour indie patterns and have many in my stash) but I just couldn’t see this fabric becoming anything else but the Pippi Pinafore dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade. So I had to buy it. I’m not a big dress wearer, but I do wear a lot of skirts. This is really a skirt with extra twiddly bits but it’s described as a dress on the website so it counts! You just don’t need to put it into the wash after wearing it for one day whereas I would with a proper dress.


The printing and assembling of the pattern was really straight forward. The PDF is layered which means that you only need to print the size(s) you need, which made the assembling and cutting part much smoother than usual. I printed off the size 14 B cup. I like the fact that there are multiple cup sizes with this pattern which gives a great fit on the bib. Definitely measure yourself though and don’t go with your bra size. I’m an E cup in my bras (and I have been professionally measured multiple times) but it turns out that I was only a B cup for this pattern. It does fit nicely around the bust so I think I got it right!

I asked my 13 year old daughter what colour top stitching I should go for and she insisted on yellow. She has an obsession with that colour at the moment but I didn’t have any better ideas so I went with it. It’s definitely bright!


This project did give me more hassle than it really should have though. Everything was going swimmingly until I tried to attach the waistband, bib and straps to the skirt. Somehow, the waistband grew considerably and was far too big for my skirt. The bib and straps were already attached to the waistband and I graded the seams so it would have meant starting those bits again. I was writing the blog post for the Monthly Stitch two hours before the deadline so I really didn’t have time for that! So I folded about an inch and a half out of the waistband instead. I do have a random seam in there but you can’t tell in this dark fabric.

I also have an overhang at the side where the buttons go because the waistband was so big. I couldn’t trim it down too much because that would have chopped the bib off a bit. I’m really not sure what I did wrong with this! I’ve sewn in a press stud now to keep that bit down.


The button holes were a pain in the backside. My machine has always behaved itself with button holes up until now. It made such a mess of 3 out of 4 of my side button holes that I honestly thought I wouldn’t get this dress completed before the deadline. Trying to unpick a black button hole from black fabric was a nightmare. My eyesight is not the best and I just could not see what I was doing. I got there in the end though and tried to fudge the button holes manually by doing a couple of extra large bar tacks side by side. Time will tell if my button holes will last. I did manage to get the button hole foot to work on the bib though but I decided not to risk it on the straps. In the end I decided to sew through the straps so now they’re not adjustable and the buttons are for decoration only. I can get the dress on and off though so it saved me time in the end.

I wore this dress to work on Friday and got a few compliments.  The best thing about this dress  is that it makes it look like I have a waist. I think it suits me better that my other pinafore dresses but I may need to make myself a yellow top to wear under it!

I’m very pleased to say that I won a prize with this skirt. Three pdf patterns from How to Do Fashion – a brand I’m very familiar with. I’m off to peruse their website now…..



Simple Sew Chelsea Blouse

Hello! I know that we’re just into Autumn now but I’m here to show you my final make of the summer! This little blouse was made with a good week or so of summer left to spare…

01 Chelsea blouse

I’ve made the Chelsea skirt already (here). The blouse is a simple pull over top, with or without a collar. There is a little button and button loop closure at the back. The insides are kept neat and tidy with a facing, and the sleeves are shirred at the hem.

The fabric that I chose to make this blouse was a very light-weight cotton lawn (hence the rush to get it finished before ‘summer’ ended). It probably won’t get a huge amount of wear until late spring now!

Doughty’s very kindly gave me this cotton lawn to work with. You can buy it here. Here it is:

02 Chelsea blouse

The fabric was lovely. Being a lawn, it was so easy to sew. Sometimes all you want is a nice, stable cotton! It was quite an unusual choice for me though – I rarely go for prints unless it’s a stripe or a check. I chose this because I have skirts or cardigans in all of the colours in the fabric, so my finished blouse goes with so many things! I particularly like that yellowy-green colour (is that chartreuse?) and I even have a lovely A-line skirt in that colour.

The reason I chose the pattern was because I wanted to tick off another skill on my sewing bucket list. There is shirring on the sleeves. Shirring is the gathering of fabric using elastic thread and is something that I’ve been too scared to attempt before! This pattern doesn’t go overboard with it as there are only two lines of shirring on each sleeve. If you fancy having a go at shirring, the Amelia tea dress also has shirring on the bodice.

The Chelsea blouse was a straight-forward sew. I went for the collared option, although the fabric disguises it so perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered! I made a size 14 and it fits nicely although it’s a tiny bit big around the back.

03 Chelsea blouse

The shirring was nowhere near as scary as I thought it was going to be and I got it to work perfectly first time! I managed to find a spool of shirring elastic in the same teal colours as is on my blouse. That made me mildly happy, but of course white elastic would have done just as well! To do the shirring, I hand wound the elastic onto a bobbin and popped it in my machine as normal. My usual thread was used as the top thread. I lengthened my stitch to 4 and had a quick practice. It turned out perfectly on my practice scrap so I went ahead and did it on the real thing. There are notches on the pattern to show you where to shirr. I used a ruler to draw a straight chalk line between the notches to guide me whilst I was sewing this. I would have gone on a wonk if I didn’t! Being light weight, this fabric was so perfect for the shirring. It gathered up nicely and was particularly fun when I put a steamy iron near the stitches. Steam does something magic to shirring – it gathers it up really tightly and it looks like it’s shrinking in front of you!

Chelsea blouse 10

The back of the blouse is really pretty too with a key hole that closes with a button at the top.

Chelsea blouse 12

The blouse did come up a little shorter than I would have liked so I sewed the hem as narrowly as I could. I’m quite pleased with how neat and tidy it looks!

Chelsea blouse 11

Overall I like this little blouse. I’ve worn it to work already although it wasn’t really the weather for it – it was a bit cool. The only thing I’m not sure about is….. the shirred sleeves. I know that the sleeves were the reason I sewed this up in the first place but I’m not entirely sure they suit me. My upper arms are slightly bingo-wingy despite my best efforts at the gym, and I feel the shirring makes my arms look like butchers sausages. I was also worried that after a full day at work they would be hurting my arms. I’ve put that to the test now though and they didn’t hurt at all. My husband thinks I’m being ridiculous about the ‘sausages’ bit but he’s not sure about the sleeves either. He says it’s because he’s not used to seeing me wearing frilly sleeves!

04 Chelsea blouse

I’ll give the shirred sleeves a bit more of a chance. If they really bug me I’ll just unpick the shirring and wear the sleeve straight which would be nice too!

Simple Sew Slouchy Gilet

Hello again! This month’s pattern is a bit of a blast from the past. With Autumn just around the corner I’ve chosen the Slouchy Gilet to whip up.

Gilet 1

This pattern came free with an old issue of Love Sewing magazine. Perhaps you have it in your pattern stash? Well, I’ve been wanting to make this for ages. When I dug it out I remembered why I had procrastinated over it for so long – I really couldn’t get my head around the instructions.

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A shirt for (me and) my husband

I started June with such high hopes (I realise we’re in August now but bear with me). Because Me Made May taught me that I have too many clothes, I decided to make June a ‘no clothes for me’ month. It started well. I turned one cushion into two by dismantling one that I made a couple of years ago for Burniston Show (here) and adding a beautiful teal velvet back. I’m pleased with these!


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July Sew My Style – Lander pants

We shall just gloss over the fact that June’s Sew My Style, the Suki Kimono, is not yet on here shall we? My fabric took over three weeks to arrive and I missed the reveal day which I was cross about. I’m intending to make two of them for Christmas presents – organised I know! However, the urgency for that make has gone. There has been some progress though. The pdf is stuck together and cut out and the fabric for one of them has been cut out. This all took an age – some of those pattern pieces are massive! I have more important makes now, including a shirt for my husband’s birthday. Continue reading

Simple Sew Miranda Tee

I know it was a while agoDid you take part in Me Made May? I did, and one thing it taught me (apart from the fact that I have too many clothes) is that I reach for t-shirts more than any other garment. So when it was time for the Simple Sew bloggers to choose their patterns for this month I got in there quick as flash to choose the Miranda tee. This is a brand new pattern soon to be released into the wild so I was quite excited to try it out.
I cut out a size medium in some rubbish fabric to check the fit and was very pleased to find that it did. I had to make one change but it was a simple one. The pattern is very long so I shortened it.

To make this t-shirt I was given this gorgeous viscose jersey fabric from Doughty’s. I love stripey t-shirts and have made several of them. The pattern states that you need 1.5m of fabric but I can confirm you can get it out of less. I liked the fabric a lot so I wanted to conserve as much as I could. I’m glad I did this as my finished t-shirt is not exactly perfect as you shall soon see. A bit of practice though and I’ll have it nailed.
Obviously stripes need careful handling. Everything has to match! Well, it doesn’t really but I like it to.
Miranda 2 Continue reading