Tough chick dressed by Sophie: part two

Earlier in the year I did a post about some clothes I had made and were now in the possession of my sister-in-law, Tough Chick (that’s what her TV show would be called, if she had one). I realised I hadn’t posted the second lot of photos and, while I’m on holiday and not sewing (it’s our wedding anniversary!) I would post the second lot. These photos were taken at the end of a long day so we ended up getting quite silly with the poses. Both the tops were RTW tops that I gave to her as well. Even the shoes were once mine! Tough Chick doesn’t like shopping very much.

The first two are both made from this Burdastyle pattern and both ended up a bit too small for me. The first is made from a purple cotton ponte from The Fabric Warehouse

ImageImageIt doesn’t have a separate waistband or facing; instead, the top is folded down and tacked in place, so it looks seamless but it a bit harder to fit if you have a big difference between waist and hips, like me.

The second one is made from a lavendar woven fabric (?content) with lots of stretch, leftover from another dress.

ImageThe following is an example of my learning curve when it comes to choosing fabric for projects. It’s a Hollyburn skirt that started out as the knee-length, but I cut the hem so wonky it ended up being quite short. It’s made from a polka dot fabric (either polyester or rayon, I can’t remember) that is so lightweight it’s obviously meant to be a lining rather than a full skirt!

ImageImageThe last skirt was my Christmas present to TC, and is a Colette Ginger skirt made from an acrylic fabric, lined with some kind of fabric (honestly, I should know all this, but they were all made before I had a really good handle on fabric selection). It’s hemmed with a lace facing.

ImageImageSo, that’s that. Last year I ended up getting rid of quite a few of my me-made items and although I’m getting better, I have a few items made this year that will end up the same way (hopefully TC wants them too). I’m not sure if it’s because of my fitting, or because I’m sewing styles that aren’t completely me? It’s so easy to get caught up in hype about certain patterns, or decide that you like a pattern so much without really thinking about whether it’ll suit you or not.

At least it’s better making your own than buying RTW, as I used to buy things purely for the fabric rather than the style (I would buy basically anything polka dot that I could find). Do you guys think it’s easier or harder to “shop to flatter” when sewing your own clothes?


Don’t be a Dickie: Thread Theory’s Jedediah Trousers

Folks, there is a reason why Thread Theory was one of my top, all time favoutite pattern companies. Here I am with my first ever pair of trousers, and apart from a few tiny issues, they look just like RTW (particularly like Dickies brand pants).

Image I traced off this pattern yesterday, washed and dried the calico for a muslin, and made the muslin which I initially thought was going to send me into a spiral of fitting-doom. From Mr. Guy’s measurements I traced a 36 in the waist and 34 in the hips, but when he tried the muslin on there was all sorts of bagging and pulling, and to be honest I had NO idea where to start.

Then I remembered that he had told me earlier that he wore a 34 in RTW (why does he never remember that when we’re in shops?), so I went back and re-cut the pattern and muslin to a size 34 all over… and hey presto! Almost perfect fit. The waistband is still a touch loose so he will have to wear a belt (which he does will all his RTW anyway) and the back crotch seam needs to be lengthened; otherwise, that’s it! Thank goodness for him being a “standard” shape, I get enough fitting issues with my own clothes.

ImageI’m almost hesitant to say that the entire process of tracing, muslin, and making the pants only took me one day: I don’t want you all to hate me. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re all sickened by how many garments I’m cranking out; I would be too! I guess I’m just relaxed and, well, there’s not much else to do here once you’ve taken the dog for a walk.

ImageJessie-dog and Travis the cat love to tussle.

The quickness it got made* was largely due to the pattern itself though. All of Thread Theory’s patterns I’ve made so far (which is all of them other than the Goldstream Peacoat) have been so well drafted, with excellent instructions that include little tips to help with the construction. There is also a sewalong for the trousers/shorts on their website which is always helpful for the confusing bits, and Morgan did a video on how to sew the fly – which made it so easy I didn’t have time to be apprehensive about it!

*now I have Sublime stuck in my head..

ImageI will admit that I made the fly a bit too shallow (I’m not sure how to explain that better), and am glad that my fly top-stitching isn’t contrasting so you can’t see that it’s a bit too close to the opening. That, and a few areas where my topstitching isn’t so straight on the corners (and the inner waistband – must remember to sew it on back to front like the La Sylphide neck tie) are the only areas that I’m not completely stoked about.


I pretty much followed the instructions for the construction. Both inner and outer leg seams and the yoke are flat-felled, crotch seam is overlocked. I didn’t have any bias binding or the inclination to make any, so the waistband seam is just tucked away and stitched.

ImageThis is one of those projects that, although I was there every step of the way, I can’t quite believe that I made it. I was looking at each leg when I had finished them (prior to sewing the crotch seam), just admiring how good they look – now that is a good feeling. Obviously sewing menswear is good for my patience in ensuring I do everything nice and proper. Now I’m keen to try making shirts and pants for myself, once I have the fabric (I have the Archer shirt and the Thurlow trousers patterns, and I’d love to try making jeans).

ImageOf course not everything in the pants is “proper”, I had to sneak some kind of personalisation in there:

ImageOut of my stash, Mr. Guy chose this lobster print cotton for the pockets (yusss). It’s almost a shame that the pants are so well designed and you can’t see the pockets from the outside! He’ll have to just pull them out to show people, and next time I might copy Meg’s first pair and sew the pockets inside out so you can see the fabric when the trousers are off.

I didn’t actually do any decorative top-stitching on the pocket – should have just gone with the suggested stitching lines, but I want to have something really cool but couldn’t think of anything – plus I’m no good at machine embroidery. ONE DAY. The back patch pockets are also a bit small, too, as for some reason I only traced off the stitching template rather than the actual pocket piece!

Image See what I mean though? Only teensy tiny problems which aren’t even real problems. I’m getting a lot better at this sewing game!


Pattern: Jedediah Trousers from Thread Theory

(I bought the PDF version a while ago, but just bought all the paper copies because I’m a fan girl <3 )

Fabric: Cotton twill from The Fabric Store, 2m at $18/m (on sale at 40% off) = $21.60

Notions: button and thread, stash. Interfacing, $2

Total: $23.60

Take that, $90 pants (although mine aren’t wrinkle resistant or “stain release”, whatever that means).


New: Comox Trunks

So I’m obviously quite hot off the gun with these ones (Mr. Guy tells me that’s not a real saying). Thread Theory released their new pattern for the Comox Trunks on Monday evening, I had the pattern printed and in my hands at work on Tuesday morning, and Mr Guy was trying on the finished pair that night.

Please see the bottom of my post for information regarding a minor error in the pattern.


Unfortunately there is no one modelling these photos – unlike Morgan and Matt I don’t have willing varsity students to strip to their gruts! Mr. Guy almost said I could take photos of him wearing them, but decided against it like I had expected.

I was so keen to make these that I grabbed the only suitable knit fabric I had in my stash – this red polka dot cotton knit. All the other fabrics are merinos and waiting for other projects. I was able to use the matching blue polka dot fabric for the binding on the front of the shorts. You’ll also note that the overlocking thread doesn’t match, because blue is the ONLY COLOUR I brought with me.


These shorts went together VERY quickly. It took me 2 hours in total which included multiple try-ons and a 20 minute period where my dad (who is visiting along with my mum) stole my computer with the instructions on it.

Please don’t look too closely at the waistband; I didn’t have any wide elastic in the limited stash I brought up with me (Made on Marion is sending some up to me today) so I unpicked some from a pair of RTW that had seen better days – it works but it’s not so pretty.


Even after making several pairs of underpants for myself (not blogged), I still struggle a little with keeping everything neat – underwear and lingerie has a whole different skill set to garment sewing, and it takes a while to get it looking nice. These have ended up being quite good except the only twin needle I have is 1.5mm wide (whyyy) and the fabric attaching to the waistband is a bit scruffy. Usually I would overlock the edge to the elastic, then fold and top-stitch down; on this pair I didn’t want the waistband to be permanently attached, in case it got too scruffy and I wanted to replace it.


Although I can’t say that Mr. Guy has ever complained about the idea of a center back seam, the bum piece is quite nice. I do know that back seams can be annoying on ladies undies and we don’t have anything, erm, pulling the fabric forward.

In terms of fit, I made a straight size 36 (based on his waist measurement) and it fit well except for being too large in the legs. I’ll have to think about how exactly to fix that, whether I hack and the piece I have or just cut a smaller leg piece. They’re still comfortable, apparently, but aren’t as snug as they should be.


The front opening makes them look professional, but the opening is a bit small. Does anyone actually use that? I imagine it would always be easier to just drop your trousers to go to the bathroom but IDK I’m a girl.

All in all I looove this pattern. I’ve tried making mens underwear before (using Jalie 3242) and even after several tries, I couldn’t get the fit right, and the crotch facing is always confusing. The Comox Trunks are easy peasy if you have any experience with sewing knits (even those who don’t would be able to as the instructions are very clear, but underwear involves smaller pieces of fabric which can be tricky).


Now, please note that there is a small error with the pattern as is: pattern pieces 3 and 4 should be cut on folded fabric so you have two mirrored versions. Follow the instructions as written, however step 3 should instead read “Lay the trunk front pieces on top of each other with one WRONG side facing one RIGHT side.”  From that point onwards, instructions are the same as before. This will mean that you’ll get self-fabric peeking out of the gap (unlike mine which has the white peeking through), but will have self-fabric on the bound piece facing the inside. This should make sense when you’ve got all the pieces in front of you.

It’s no real biggie and Morgan will be fixing the PDF version and sending it out to those of you who bought that version, and will be adding an errata to all the paper versions.




I made a freaking mens shirt!! Negroni by Colette Patterns.

So there I was, on a Saturday morning, saying to Mr. Guy “I really want to make you something, but don’t know what yet”. I have fabric for another Newcastle Cardigan (my first one here) but TBH I dislike the fabric – but he chose it and loves it so I will make it up. I have fabric for some Jedediah Trousers but haven’t traced the pattern yet. I also recently bought the Negroni Shirt but didn’t have any fabric for it – I always have a had time finding/buying/imagining “shirting” so have never bought any.

And then, I realised that of course I could use the linen I had set aside for shorts, for a shirt. Therefore, I can present: my first mens shirt.


I really did think that this was going to take me several days, even two weeks, as I carefully made a muslin and slaved over the tailoring details of a menshirt. I find it odd that I can say this took me only two half days, including researching by reading the Mens Shirt Sewalong by Male Pattern Boldness, and downloading David Coffin’s e-book on Shirtmaking (use the code SHARE20 for 20% discount over the next few days).

I actually didn’t do a muslin at all (because I didn’t have any spare fabric!!) but I did make sure the yoke fit well. This was the first version – I measured his back between both shoulder points (I use the tip of the acromion) then measured the pattern pieces and starting with a small:


It’s a bit tricky to tell because his tshirt doesn’t fit right on the shoulders, but the size small yoke wasn’t nearly wide enough – I unfolded the seam allowance and it was about perfect. That actually gave me exactly the medium size:


Other than that, I also added 1.5cm to the shoulder seam on the yoke, and cut away a bit at the neckline-shoulder corner. I held up my front and back pattern pieces (traced to a size medium, which matched his chest and waist measurements) and they seemed to fit well; I also measured his arms to make sure the sleeves would be long enough. Then I just got cracking!


I did make sure I took my time, getting the stitching square, my top- and edgestitching perfect, etc. I did have a problem with the collar being waaaaay too short, which confused me until I remembered that 1.5cm I added, and the fabric I took away at the neck-shoulder corner – this added a total of 6cm onto the neck seam, so I re-cut the collar (so I had no more mishaps like this dress, where the collar ended up being crazy ugly short. I wore this twice then took it to the op shop).

The good thing about sewing for others is that I really take my time, making sure I unpick and fix things that I would often let fly if I was sewing for myself (the bad thing is that sometimes I’m too scared to start; I’ve had some black merino to make my mum some leggings for almost a YEAR now). For this shirt I only needed my quick-unpick three times which is pretty good for me as my haste often breeds mistakes.


I must say, I am so incredibly happy with this shirt. It’s one of the best (if not THE best) thing I have ever made. The whole thing in constructed without an overlocker or handsewing, yet there are no exposed seams; the instructions for sewing the yoke are brilliant and easily enclose all the seams (why doesn’t everyone use this method? Gertie why does your shirtwaist dress involve so much hand sewing??), and the shoulder, sleeve and side seams are all flat felled.

I did a proper sleeve placket which went together very easily, and I narrow hemmed the bottom without the special foot. After trying it several times and then being shown another method by Mrs. C, I’ve come to realise that the hem foot is basically a gimmick, and it’s much easier just doing it with the normal foot; folding as you go, then trimming and folding again, leaving the iron for the very end.

ImageI probably should have trimmed the neck/facing corner better as it isn’t pressing crisply


The inside is as pretty as the outside :)



(oops I took a photo of the uglier side – I forgot to pull the wee lever down on my buttonhole foot so there’s extra stitching)

You will have noticed the polka dots – I couldn’t help myself! I asked him whether he wanted the facing to be self-fabric, or the polka dot fabric I had left over from my latest Cambie (asked in a very leading way), and I decided to do the cuffs the same. I didn’t realise until later on that part of the facing would be visible when the shirt folds open at the top – but I like it! As Mr. Guy pointed out, it almost looks like a little bow tie. I also love the flash of spots when he rolls up the sleeves.


It fits extremely well, for having basically no alterations from the pattern. It’s a slim fitting pattern which is good for my slim-fitting husband. I’m glad it has no darts in it because I’ve taken David Coffins words to heart for a mens shirt – that darts are “merely evidence of ill-cut side seams” (this doesn’t apply in womenswear, obviously). Even the length of the sleeves and body is perfect – he can easily tuck it in and it’s not too long to be worn untucked. We decided to leave off the pockets as it looked so good without them.


Mr. Guy is also very happy with his new shirt – he’s already requested another “in parchment coloured linen with this exact texture”, not seeming to understand that it’s uncommon to find textured linen. I also asked him if he’d ever wear “crazy patterns” (although I don’t think he could quite pull this or this off) and he said “only if I match what you’re wearing” – ohh, be still my beating heart! I’ve been waiting to hear that ever since I found out about this couple who have worn matching outfits for the last 35 years (this is my favourite – I want a dress just like that!!).

You may have already recognised the fabric this shirt is out of; yes, we already have one matching outfit!

ImageCouldn’t quite get the photo even as the camera was balanced on a spherical boulder.

So, there’s my first foray into mens shirt-making. Now that I have a pattern that fits (and it fits WELL), I’ll be able to easily make up more shirts. I  have some fabric on the way, with which I’m planning to make a shirtwaist dress, so I might buy more to make us another matching outfit.



Pattern: Negroni by Colette Patterns, $18

Fabric: Navy linen, $3/m from sale = $6, plus polka dots leftover from a dress

Notions: Navy buttons, $4.20, interfacing and thread from stash

Total: $10.40 as is, $38.40 including pattern


Photos were taken at the Koutu Boulders.


Tough chick dressed by Sophie: Part One

Meet Tough Chick, my soon-to-be-sister-in-law (the wedding is one week away!!). She doesn’t like shopping, but does love receiving the clothes I’ve made and for whatever reason don’t want any more. There are more that I’ve given her that she ended up taking to the op-shop because they didn’t fit her style either (and plenty more that I’ve made and gotten rid of other ways).

Please note: most of these items were made a while ago (>9m ago) and I feel, thankfully, that my sewing skill has improved dramatically since then.

This will be a rather photo-heavy post because I don’t have much to say about the clothes! I’m really just presenting my awesome SIL to the blogging world AKA the blogosphere (that’s for my husbands benefit, as he HATES that word. Blogosphere, hehe)

ImageThis dress is made from a pattern I have since got rid of, because the style didn’t suit me at all. So, can’t even remember the name or brand.

ImageThe fabric was a steal at $5/m at the Spotlight in Nelson (my home town). It’s beautiful but really not my colour! This dress was made early 2012 and was the first thing given to Tough Chick. She was excited but didn’t know there was so much more to come.

ImageThe next lovely number modelled by Tough Chick also features Jane The Dog:

ImageIt’s made in a really really nice cotton sateen in pale blue with almost-Sakura like flowers (from Nelson Spotlight. I loved this but too short and the skirt was a bit too small, I think. This was also made in Nelson in early 2012 and was first worn taking my grandma out to High Tee. She was very impressed at my sewing prowess!

ImageI thought this was made from New Look 6824 – but I remember the pattern came with the bow belt, so it can’t be. I have obviously got rid of this pattern too.ImageThe next is a cotton-drill skirt made in Christchurch in late 2012. Note, all the tops in these posts were also given to her by me but were RTW. I’m now wondering why I gave this navy wool one away…

ImageLucky for you, Tough Chick is a great dancer:

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageThis skirt is just too dang small for me :( But check out the completely-accidental-sort-of-pattern matching on the zip and waistband!

ImageOkay, as well as being a photo heavy post, it’s not very intellectually stimulating. Probably because I haven’t had nearly enough sleep this week and agreed to do an extra half-shift tomorrow (only 7 hours rather than the usual 15 – do you know I work about 50-60 hours a week?), and I’m sitting here freezing my butt off because Wellington doesn’t know that it’s SUMMER.

Tomorrow will be dealt with by lots of coffee, and by dreaming of all the fabric and I can buy with the extra money…


Man sewing: t-shirts

I’ve finally convinced Mr. Guy to let me take photos of him in these t-shirts. They’re not new (in fact the purple one was made months ago) but they are worn often. They’re all simple, boring t-shirts, but I like reading about other people making boring staples, so there you go.

ImageThe first is a purple t-shirt made from the Burdastyle Pete pattern. I’m not sure what the fabric is (I bought it from Spotlight a year or two prior from, to make leggings from I think). It’s really nice and soft and hasn’t pilled yet, maybe it’s a thick rayon? I have no scraps to do a burn test.

ImageIt’s all sewn up with my overlocker, then topstitched with a double needle, in white thread (not for fancy reasons, I think I just didn’t have a matching colour). The stitching around the neck is pretty dodgy (all the more obvious because of the white thread!) but he doesn’t seem to mind.

The fit of all three t-shirts is off, and I’m only sort of sure how to fix it. I think all the diagonal pull lines between underarm and neck are because he has “sloping shoulders” from a muscular back. By the looks of it I either need to add to the top of the shoulder, OR give him a bit more fabric at the under arm.

ImageThe back of the t-shirt pulls up slightly too, again because of his muscular back (ehehe). The same thing happened with his Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan, I think I have to slash a horizontal line at the scapulae to give him more vertical room.


The second is from the same pattern, and is made from a thick knit which I think is a polyester because of how it smells when worn more than once…


This one has the same issue with the underarm pulling, and I think all in all there’s not enough fabric over the chest (of any of the t-shirts).



Again this was made with the overlocker and top-stitched with a twin needle. I don’t like the feel of the fabric but Mr. Guy seems to like it.


ImageThe third and most recent is slightly better fitting but same deal. This is made from Thread Theory’s Strathcona Tee. I didn’t really need this pattern (because I could have just played around with the Pete) but I wanted to support Thread Theory’s new pattern – they have really filled a gap in the market with stylish, well-drafted menswear, and they have amazing customer service.

I think I might have bungled this up when printing, as apparently this was the XL size but as you can see, it’s a bit small – and Mr. Guy’s not that big a guy, just tall. I do prefer the sleeves on this compared to the Pete, which has a weird angled sleeve hem. I also have the option of making the Henley with the button placket (although it’s not really Mr. Guy’s style) and I can also do long sleeves, which will be handy when I get around to making him merinos for winter.

ImageChicken wrangling

This fabric isn’t the nicest; it’s a thin striped knit from The Fabric Warehouse’s pop-up shop – so it was cheap ($3/m) but the grainline was skewed (so the stripes aren’t perpendicular to the grainline, and the hem has a small tendency to twist like RTW t-shirts do). I have enough to make another t-shirt for me but not sure if I even want to go there.

So that’s the sum of my Man-Sewing in 2013; three t-shirts, the Newcastle Cardigan and helping my brother with a pair of shorts. I would really like to make Mr. Guy a shirt, and have fabric set aside for two pairs of pants (using the Jedediah Pants pattern) – I’m just waiting until he traces out the pattern (I decided he had to do SOMETHING towards it).

Does anyone have any other ideas about how to fix those drag lines? Unfortunately there’s basically no resources that I’ve found to help mens fitting issues, so I just have to use my basic fitting knowledge to figure it out


Patterns: Pete from Burdastyle, and Strathcona Tee by Thread Theory

Fabrics: Unknown content knits, 2x stash and the striped one $3

Notions: thread from stash

Total Cost: Cost of stash fabric, and $3.





Sewing with family

Earlier this weekone of my brothers asked if I could help him make some shorts. I initially thought he meant “proper” shorts (like I have lined up for Mr. Guy out of Thread Theory’s Jedediah Trousers), but he actually meant elastic waist band, comfortable summer shorts. Sigh of relief!

ImageI took him to spotlight as I knew we would find the novelty fabric he was after at the nicer fabric shops. We found this cotton duck with the drills and were sold. I actually have enough for a matching skirt – we will be so cool.

ImageWe made these out of Simplicity 7073, and old pattern I must have got at an op shop aaages ago, an “easy essentials” pattern with some awesome styling on the cover. We made it all up in one go then found that the crotch was remarkably low, and he had wanted shorty shorts; in the end I had to remove the waist band, un-stitch the pockets, and take 9cm off the top of the pattern in order to lift up the crotch; this made the legs the right length as well.


A warning about elastic waistbands: when removing the elastic from the casing in a hurry, wear safety goggles or at least avert your eyes. Yes, I got hit right in the eye with elastic, probably with a similar force to someone punching me in the face. This, added to the devastation I felt hearing that The Fabric Store had sold all of the lace I had been planning to buy (I only wanted half a metre!!!), meant for a grumpy Sophie.


We didn’t think too much (at all) about the pencil placement, but I’m not too worried. Ollie did the majority of the construction himself (I did the curved seams of the pockets, and all the overlocking) which is pretty darned good for a total beginner!


Pattern: Simplicity “easy essentials” 7073

Fabric: Cotton duck from Spotlight, 1.5m at $11.89/m (after 30% off) = $17.80

Notions: thread and elastic, stash

Total: $17.80

At the same time we were sewing, Ollie and Mr. Guy were making a brew of beer. Ollie has recently gotten really into it, which is good for the rest of us. This brew is a nutty brown ale, and should be ready for drinking in 6 weeks. Hopefully in two weeks (after it goes into bottles) “the boys” (Mr Guy, Ollie and another brother Jack) will make another brew.