A little Christmas sewing: Sewaholic's Stanley Christmas trees

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful break over the holiday season. I'm just finishing up a 12 day holiday and it has proved to be a lovely time with family and friends - exactly the tonic that I needed. Like many at this time of year, I can't help but become a little more reflective as well to think about plans for the forthcoming year. I'm approaching 2017 in a slightly different way. I'm not making resolutions or making any grand public goals. Instead, I plan to focus on wellbeing. The end of 2016 was tough for me with my mental health and I practically lost the ability to do anything other than work and collapse on the sofa in the evenings and at weekends - a lot of things went on hold. Concentrating on wellbeing in general seems to be a sensible way forward, a way for me to enjoy the year and I've noticed that some things are already starting to get to normal. I start a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course tomorrow for a month and I'm looking forward to seeing how it might be able to help. I'm also looking forward to the return of my creative side - it's increasing and the itch to hold fabric is there more often! 

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It began to return on and off in December and I managed a few projects - two Buchanan dressing gowns for gifts which I didn't get photos of, a Grasshopper dress for me (post coming soon!), began making good progress on my wedding dress and made six, yes, six Sewaholic Stanley Christmas trees! 

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If you haven't made them yet, I would recommend them as a fairly quick project. I had a lot of fun making them. They are straightforward to make but if you're making many at once, you may want to break up the process a little. Clipping all of the curves for six trees at once was a little tiresome as was the hand stitching to close them after stuffing. 

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The fabric comes from Darn It and Stitch and they aren't traditional Christmas prints. I particularly love the gold which is seasonal only with the doves amongst the flowers but it makes a fabulous tree! As none of the fabrics had a directional print, I managed to get two trees from a metre. They are all finished with either cream or red satin bows from Hobby Craft. 

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After browsing the web for some inspiration from other fellow stitchers who had made these, I decided I wanted a fairly plump look to the trees and was surprised at how hungry they are - you will use a lot of filling for six trees! I found it easier to add a little filling to the tips of each side of the trees before filling the rest. A slim pencil was perfect to help push the filling as close to the tip as possible for a nice, even look. 

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I gave three away as gifts and the others are currently in our lounge. I will definitely be making more of these for future Christmases - there are a number of family and friends who didn't receive one this year. Oops, I may just have given away some of next year's presents! 

A piped satin Granville

I'm back from another unanticipated blogging break. The past few months have flashed by in a bit in of whirl - there are several reasons for it but the most exciting one is we have started planning our wedding for next May. I've been researching venues, florists and bands. Not to mention reviewing multiple silk, satin and lace samples and working how to construct my dress. I start  the pattern this Tuesday. I will share the full process but unfortunately you're going to have to wait until Spring to see the details.

Despite the frenzy of researching and organisation, I did manage to sew quite a lot in the summer. The next few posts will be unseasonal but with the change in weather it will be nice to have some sunnier photos to look at!

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I took part in Hannah's OWOP activities but shamefully didn't manage to capture it. I did, however, create a new Granville shirt in honour of the week. My stash had been home to 2m of white satin since our trip to Barcelona where I got it for 8 Euros. It was always destined to be a shirt but I got cold feet about creating it. OWOP proved to be the spur I needed. 

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This make was all about the design and no changes were made to the pattern. To break up the white, I opted for self made black piping. The black satin was a nightmare to work with but some strategic basting and a slow pace on the machine eventually stopped it twisting. It was fun to work with the piping and to be honest, I made up the placement as I went along. I knew I wanted simple lines and the button placket, cuffs and yoke were easy. I paused on the collar - the cord in the piping proved to be too thick to sit neatly at the points so only the top line is piped. 

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The satin wasn't the best to work with. It frayed more than I thought it would and it's bouncy nature meant I had to work at a slower pace to get the desired result. I used a mix of seam finishes - French seams where they are visible, overlocking for all others and the cuff, inside yoke and inside collar stand were closed by hand to ensure a good finish. The shirt is finished with small Liberty covered buttons with grey and black leaves. They blend in with the white nicely while providing a little more interest. 

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I'm hoping this shirt will get more wear in the coming months. Sadly it is currently an wardrobe orphan as I'm in need of a new pair of black trousers for work and it feels too dressy for my other options! 

What have you all been up to? Any news to share? I'd love to know while I gradually catch up. 

Back to Pink: A Belcarra

Well, hello there. It feels a little bit like it has been long time, no speak as I took as I took a little blogging break to coincide with returning from my holiday. I’m back now and will be sharing with you the rest of the makes from my sewcation over the next few weeks with a fancy dress costume thrown in for good fun.

Long-term readers will know that I have an odd relationship with tops. For some reason, I can never find ones that I like. There is always something that puts me off buying or designing them – perhaps I’m just too picky? Anyway, an additional top, at the very minimum, was needed for my capsule holiday wardrobe and I chose to repeat Sewaholic’s Belcarra.

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The eagle eyed among you might notice that the fabric is different to the one I had planned. The main reason for this is the Liberty lawn didn’t match the rest of my makes as well as this pink. The fabric is an unknown cotton mix with embroidered flowers over two different tones of pink. I found it in one of my local charity shops for £6 when I was stocking up on old sheets to make toiles with. It had been overlocked into a tube with a rectangle of black cotton added to the top. The black cotton had faded badly and wasn’t worth saving but there was enough of the pink to make a top.

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While I was right about the amount of fabric, I had to spend quite a bit of time working out how to cut the pattern and make the most of the flowers. Because the two pinks are separated by a definite line, I needed to make sure it, and the flowers, lined up. This left small pieces for the sleeves and I just managed to squeeze them out in the lighter pink. I even managed to get a flower on each of the sleeve cuffs.

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I made a number of alterations on this version. On the paper pattern, I raised the neckline a couple of centimeters. The one thing that really annoys me about my first version is how the top falls off one of my shoulders. (Being hand wash only is also super annoying). Trying this one on after completion showed that I probably need to take the neckline up another 1.5cm in future. It also revealed that the pattern was one- two sizes too big around my waist. I hadn’t noticed this with the silk version due to the silk’s drape but it was glaringly obvious in this cotton mix. To make it fit, I kept taking in the side seams until I was happy with the fit.

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As you can see in the photos, the fabric crumples badly. The photos were taken after wearing the top for half a day, most of which was spent walking around Lucca. We visited the garden of Palazzo Pfanner which was beautiful and quiet enough to get a few snaps for this post without the risk of another tourist photo bombing. Lucca is a worth a visit if you’re in the area and I preferred it to Pisa.

Anyway, back to the top. The sheen of the fabric and the flowers means I can wear this top in a number of ways. It feels as at home with jeans and other casual trousers as it does with a smart black skirt. I still like the shape of the top, and with some customisation, I can see a few more of these coming out of my machine in the future but how quickly depends on when I can summon the energy to retrace the pattern…

Adventure Springs Granville

Hello, everyone. I hope you've all had a good week. I'm here with a quick post for the first of my makes from my recent sewcation. After the mixed success of my first sleeveless Granville, I knew that another one would be needed. I love this pattern and wanted a wearable sleeveless version to hand while I waited to fix the side seams of the Remember Me version (I'm hoping to do this before the end of the month, but we'll see). 

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The fabric is Adventure Springs by Art Gallery Fabrics. I was drawn to the jewel tones and then the white arrows. I thought it would make a great top and snapped up 1.5m from misformake. For this version, I made a couple of tiny alterations - raising the arm holes by 1.5cm to help with the gaping in this area and reducing the shoulder seams by 0.5cm. The pieces were cut out at a sewing day with Vaire Gwir and Hannah. It took a little while to do this, partly because I wanted the arrows to line up as much as possible, but mainly because Vaire had her eye on the fabric and would have stolen it if I had left it unaccompanied for too long! Thankfully, making it sleeveless ensures that this beauty remains mine! 

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I didn't have enough fabric to get the two yokes, so used some pale green cotton from my stash for the inside. The arms are finished with a pretty floral bias binding. As this is my third version, I don't have anything new to say on the construction. What I love most about shirts, are the details. For this version, I chose topstitching. And lots of it! Every flat felled seam has two rows of stitching, the width of the seam apart and I did the same with the hem. The button placket and collar have two narrows rows either side. Despite the amount of top stitching, it remains subtle as the thread is only one shade lighter than the green. 

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I've worn this shirt a couple of times and it feels good. It is just loose enough for warm days and fits well underneath a cardigan or jacket. The arm holes no longer bother me. It works with jeans for a casual look or with a pair of smart trousers or a black skirt for work. Overall, a useful and versatile make. I think I will be putting this pattern away for a short time - three versions seems enough (here's the first in case you haven't seen it) although I'm sure that another sleeved version will pop up during the winter. 

Remember Me Granville

When you stand in front of your wardrobe is there a thought that goes through your mind often? When I reach for a pair of trousers or a skirt, I am always thinking "I really must make more separates". I just don't seem to have many tops that I like and those I do are on constant repeat and therefore beginning to look a little old. Recently I have been trying to resolve this regular morning conundrum. Let's say it is an interesting experience - more on that in future posts. 

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After my fairly successful first attempt at a shirt, I thought making another Granville would be a perfect place to start. This time I wanted a more casual version. Something I could wear with my jeans, skirts or shorts in the summer. Sleeveless sprung to mind. Cotton lawn too. A plan was being formed. I had picked up 1.5m of Atelier Brunette's Remember Me in the M is for Make sale. I highly recommend this cambric - it is bliss to work with. It's a little different to what I normally wear but I just couldn't resist the stars. Thankfully, the light taupe works perfectly with my separates. 

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I didn't make any changes to the fit except to raise the arm holes a little. I forgot to change to the top and as a result the shoulders come a little too far. The most annoying thing is the arm holes stretched slightly in the making and I can feel the excess when I'm wearing the top. I should really take it in a little but I'm rather proud of my flat felled seams and I don't want to unpick them. Talk about lazy!

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Can you spot something out of my comfort zone? I added pockets! I wanted a little more interest to the shirt and pockets seemed like the right thing. They sit very well and don't bother me now. I say now because it took me a full day of wearing this top to like it. The arm holes really bothered me as did the pockets - they made me feel rather self conscious but that disappeared as the hours went on.

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I'm very pleased with how this turned out. My edge stitching is so much better on this version. This is mainly because the cotton is more stable than the silk, and I was stitching at a reasonable hour of the day. I finished the arm holes with bias binding and stitched it in place to continue the flat felled look. All in all, a nice little make to see me through the summer. 

A Robson Summer Jacket

Are you full steam ahead in your current seasonal sewing? I'm certainly am! This make is in anticipation of cool mornings and evenings in spring and summer that the UK is so prone to. It also fills a gaping hole in my wardrobe: a lightweight summer jacket.

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It's no secret that I absolutely adore my Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat. It is one of my most worn items due to the shape, fit and fabric so it was pretty clear which pattern I would use for this jacket.

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I made a number of changes this time. The most obvious is changing the length so it finishes around my hips. The second is stripping away a lot of the features: the front storm flaps, epaulettes and sleeve tabs were all discarded. I took out 2cm from the back - regular exercise is definitely changing my shape! I decided to keep the back storm flap as I really like this part of a classic trench. Instead of cutting two and securing them with a button, I used one and top stitched the turned seam allowance. Shortening the length meant the pockets needed to move upwards. They are as high up as I could make them while maintaining comfort and practicality. 

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As you would expect, there is a lot of top stitching in this jacket. Every seam on the main part of the jacket is top stitched either side and including the sleeves. The stitching is even throughout and this makes me smile a lot. The stitching that lets the side down though is the bar tacks. I definitely need more practice to neaten them but at least each belt loop is very secure. Forgive the collar in the next photo - I should have straightened it out.  

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The fabric is a cotton drill from Plush Addict and a Christmas present from Adam's Grandpa. It is of great quality even if it crumples as soon as you touch it. It was fun and forgiving to work with. I managed to squeeze the jacket out of 2.5m - not bad when you want a fabric hungry belt. Shall we talk about the bright pink lining? Yes, that's right, I was far too lazy to want to deal with all the bias binding that I created a lining. Somehow cutting additional pieces, stitching and overlooking the seams seemed much a more attractive use of time than lining up and stitching perfect binding. More practically, the drill would stick to my clothes making it hard to pull the jacket on. I debated for a while on how to finish the lining ( a cotton silk I bought on Goldhawk Road) and in the end chose to bag it. I would recommend top stitching the outer shell before you bag as it is very easy to catch the lining in the stitches. 

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This has already become a staple of my wardrobe as it has had a lot of wear since completion. I just love it. The top stitching, fit and the happy colour are the major reasons for this. Although I love the purple, I'm tempted to make another in a more muted colour so I have all occasions covered but I'm not sure I yet justify another version. Do you have a pattern that you want to make over and over? 

The Morning Granville Shirt

This post feels like it has been a long time in the making. Do you remember when you helped me decide that Sewaholic's Granville shirt would form the basis of my sew before work experiment? Here it is, after 22 days of stitching, in all its glory.

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You were right: a shirt is the perfect project to stitch when you have limited time as it breaks down into small enough steps. I often completed a couple of steps during the morning. I posted my progress on Instagram each morning and if you missed it you can catch up by visiting my feed. I have to come clean though and say I didn't complete this solely in the mornings before work. As I had very limited silk to work with, I checked I could get the pieces out of the fabric and also reduced the sleeve length in the evenings. Messing up these steps would have made the project impossible! Like many others, I had to reduce the length of the sleeves. I think I took off 7cm. I also pretreated the fabric and unpicked a few seams in daylight to reduce the possibility of snagging the fabric. Still, all of the actual stitching took place between 6.15-7am.

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This is shirt is made from handmade Thai silk which Debbie sent me in the Spring Swap last year. I fell in love with it as soon as I opened it. The purple is amazingly vibrant and the floral print was one that I could actually see myself wearing regularly. It sat in my stash for so long because it measured 97cm wide and 2.3m long. The inside cuffs, inside collar stand and lower collar are from some random black fabric I was given as part of a fabric haul. I think it is a polyester. I wouldn't use it for an actual item but it works for the shirt as it complements the drape and weight of the silk. 

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Given the hour of sewing, stabilising the silk was vital. After seeing how gelatine had changed the hand of one of Hannah's silk blouses, I decided to give it a go. It worked beautifully. The silk became crisp, lost its slippery nature and was like a cotton lawn. This made stitching flat felled seams so much easier. It also slowed the fraying. The gelatine came out very easily at the end and hasn't damaged the silk in any way - it has regained its drape, soft hand and it feels amazing to wear. If you want to know more about using gelatine, check out Hannah's post. I will definitely be using this technique again. 

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This is the first time I have made a shirt and I found the process to be rather satisfying. There is a lot of precision sewing but I got through that by going at a slower pace. My stitching isn't perfect in many places, especially the sleeve plackets and the collar stand but I doubt anyone will notice. I found the sleeve plackets the trickiest part. Getting a clean point while turning under a small amount of fabric is fiddly. I chose to baste the point in place before stitching the placket to the sleeve. It worked reasonably well and didn't get in the way of adding the placket. We all know that pressing can take a make to the next level and this has never been more true than when making a shirt. I found it fascinating to see the difference. Here's a goofy picture of me but one that shows off the shirt well. 

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While this make is no where near perfect, I do love it. It is a great feeling to have a shirt that fits well, is comfortable all day and is worry free - there's no gaping here! While this shirt was made to go with black trousers or a skirt for the office, I think it works well with jeans. I'm seriously tempted to make several more of these for the office and more casually. Will there be another sewing before work challenge, I hear you ask? Not just yet. This isn't because I don't have the energy or the project but because I am about to start a mindfulness course which will take up the spare time I have in the mornings. 

Simplicity can be difficult - a silk Belcarra

I finished this project this morning, after starting it in July! The Belcarra was supposed to fill a gap in my summer work wardrobe. I wanted something simple, cool but stylish. Sounds easy, right? I mean the pattern isn't a difficult one to stitch and it should have been completed in a day or so. 

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Why did it take me five months to complete? The fabric. I choose this delicious red silk with white stars. I picked it up in Zadar, Croatia on holiday last year. It is lightweight, drapes beautifully and feels like air next to the skin. Needless to say, it is incredibly delicate and this makes it difficult to sew with. You can't put much pressure or tension on it otherwise you're left with pulls throughout the fabric. 

I tried everything I could think of when putting this together. I cut the fabric single layered on the carpet which provided more grip and stopped the fabric moving. I 

used small needles and tissue paper over and under the fabric to protect it from the feed dogs and needle. Gently hand stitched the hem and neckline in an attempt to ensure that the stitches are invisible. Unpicking is extremely difficult as the fabric retains the original stitch marks. All of this required patience, which I only had in small quantities for this project. Thankfully there aren't too many pulls in the fabric but those that are there are along the neckline and the sleeve bands. 

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Construction of the Belcarra is relatively simple. I used French seams throughout as it provides such a delightful finish but this would look just as good if you used another method. Attaching the band to the sleeves was the most difficult part as the silk wasn't stable enough. In addition, I don't really like the method of leaving 1.5cm open at the edges as I find it hard to match up the seam lines neatly. I didn't make any changes to the pattern, except my usual grading between sizes although I probably should have moved the neckline inwards by a couple of centimetres so it doesn't slip to one side and reveal the strap of my cami. 

While I missed the option of wearing this during the summer, the colours lend themselves very well to Christmas, don't you think? This was the impetus behind finally getting this top finished. I will definitely be wearing this a few times this month as the party season gets into full swing but 

I'll be honest - I'm not sure how long it will last. The seam lines and hem are causing some concern due to the pulls but still, it will be fun to wear it even if it is only a few times! 

Are you stitching anything fun for the party season? 

The Phoenix Gabriola

This is a story about a skirt that rose from the ashes of disappointment to the joy of completion. A while ago I was fortunate to come third in the Winifred dress competition and I was sent some beautiful rayon crepe from Sunni. Following wise words from a colleague this fabric was destined to become a maxi skirt, specifically a Gabriola

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I have always like the maxi style but it is a style train I never jumped onto, mainly because a fear that I was too short for it (I'm 5' 6"). 

But yet again, Tasia at Sewaholic has lured me out of my comfort zone. I knew I would need to make a couple of alterations to the pattern to get the fit right so I made a toile. My standard grading down a couple of sizes for my hips worked but my slight sway back caused a problem. Just how do you make a sway back adjustment with those yokes pieces? Luckily Maddie had posted her solution which saved my brain a difficult puzzle. I made one other change - I decided to move the zip up and remove the button closure at the back. 

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Construction isn't too difficult, essentially you are sewing a lot of straight lines. It can be a little tedious to sew these lines when you throw in overlocking as well, however the results are totally worth it! The trickiest part is sewing the tip of the yokes at the front. Thankfully the skirt visibly comes together quickly. Until I noticed my MASSIVE mistake. 

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After adding the waistband, I wrapped the skirt around me to test the fit. It did not cover my hips. Eh? The toile fitted fine. That's because it had all four side panels and my skirt only had two... To make matters worse I didn't have enough fabric to cut the additional panels. Following many expletives the skirt was thrown into the corner. 

Sadly Sunni was out of fabric. Unsurprisingly it was very popular and sold quickly. The skirt remained in the corner until a possible solution hit me on my walk home from work quite a few weeks later. "What if I divide up the panel into several pieces and stitch them together? The print is quite busy - I might just get away with it. I have nothing to lose - I can't wear the skirt as it is and I can't create another item from it. And the fabric is too pretty to gather dust in the corner." Turns out I didn't have enough for two side panels but I could get two more back panels created from three pieces each. Suddenly I had a full skirt! As I hoped, the print covers it pretty well and if I look down the panel I have trouble finding the seam lines although it is pretty obvious when your pressing the skirt! 

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Gravity then gave me another problem. It pulled the bias panels further than I anticipated and hemming became a bigger job. I put the skirt on and sweet talked Adam into pinning it from the floor up. I whizzed it through the machine to finish. 

Let's talk about the fabric. It is quite possibly my favourite fabric I have used to date. The navy blue background is the perfect shade to show off the flowers. It has a lovely drape, feels smooth to the touch but is actually quite weighty! 

I had trouble working out how to wash it and decided to throw caution to the wind and washed it at 40 degrees. It didn't shrink and has held up very well which was a massive relief. Anyone know how you should properly care for this fabric?

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I've worn this skirt a few times since completion, including on holiday (these photos are taken in the beautiful city of Girona, Spain) and have loved it every time. I don't feel short, in fact I feel a little taller - a great illusion! I love the swish of the fabric as I walk and when it is caught in a breeze. I honestly don't know why I waited so long to make a maxi.

Completed: The Evergreen coat

I made another coat! May I present my Evergreen Robson trench coat, the first piece of sensible, needed sewing I’ve done in quite a while. I love trench coats and have been without one for about a year as the front balance on my RTW one was off and it kept riding up. Annoying doesn't cover it so it sat in my wardrobe unused until I finally threw it into the charity bag. Needless to say throughout that time the Robson coat was at the top of my sewing list. 

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I finally got my hands on the pattern at Christmas but just couldn’t decide on the style I wanted. Classic? Statement? The recreation of a black and white gingham one from my university days? (Yes, it was as good as it sounds.) I landed somewhere nearer classic than statement or classic with a subtle twist. I stumbled across this gorgeous sage green twill with cream embroidered hearts at the Fabrics Galore stand in Birmingham. It is about the right weight for a trench coat, is quite warm and dries reasonably quickly but it has a habit of developing wrinkles - not that it takes anything away from the finished look imho. I've called it Evergreen as I think I can wear it through spring, summer and autumn. I'm not going to lie, I love this coat and therefore included more photos than normal.

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The fit of this coat was important to me. I don’t like a lot of fabric around my waist so I cut a smaller size than my measurements. I then made my standard Sewaholic alteration of grading down another size at the hip. No other alterations were made until the coat was together when I took up the hem by an inch to hit my knees and took up the sleeves the same amount. Looking back, I should probably have raised the pockets a bit and made them slightly bigger - my hands only just fit in them!

I made this slowly over a number of weeks as the road to completion is a long one with a great many steps. Cutting out takes time, especially when you have to take a break after accidentally standing on the fabric  and a pin decides to take a long walk straight into your foot! However, don’t let that put you off. The instructions for creating this coat are everything you would expect from Tasia - they are clear and easy to follow. You can even streamline the process a little bit by sewing a number of seams before rethreading your machine for the binding. I did wonder about how bulky it would be around the neckline as some of my other makes have struggled with this. I didn’t have to worry, it all fitted nicely together under the needle even with the addition of sew in interfacing (which I like. So much easier to use than the fusible stuff). 

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I decided to leave my coat unlined as the bound seams are one of my favourite features for this pattern. I also knew it would be a great way to perfect my edge stitching. I love the way Tasia suggests you bind the seams (fold the binding in half, place along the seam and stitch) as it takes half the time as the normal way of attaching binding. Or it would if you didn’t decide to hand baste it in place first… I used a slightly wider cream binding to make the tape easier to catch on the other side and pressed it in half before slipping it over the seam allowance. You also need to love top stitching! I’m delighted with how even and straight my stitching is - even when there is the added bulk of the hearts. I got away from the slowest speed on my machine and that feels like substantial progress! The button holes were relatively easy to make although I had to move a couple by a few millimetres to avoid the hearts. I chose some pewter buttons with stars on from Darn It and Stitch for the finishing touch. 

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Be aware, the cost of this coat can add up very quickly. With five metres of fabric, over 10 metres of bias tape, buttons, thread and sew in interfacing the total quickly added up to somewhere between £60-70. While this sounds a lot, I chose to invest in the fabric so I could make a coat that would last me years. 

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Confession time: the coat in the pictures is not the completed one. I needed the coat to be in a wearable condition for my Easter break in Prague but I knew I wouldn't complete it properly. I have since finished the arm hole seam allowances, added the belt loops and hand tacked the facings and hem in place. You can catch a glimpse of the bias tape and the amount of wrinkling in the photo above. I may, or may not, have stitched one of the sleeve tabs to the wrong side of the sleeve and had to correct that when I returned. 

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This is one of my best makes, potentially the best to date, and I have worn it nearly everyday since it became wearable. I’m still in love with the fabric - the hearts make it more interesting without being overwhelming. The fit is spot on and I’m delighted with my stitching. The pockets are the best in seam ones I have produced and they have almost perfect welts! All it needs now is a label. I really should get some woven ones... 

Tell me, what is your best make to date? 

Completed: The Marathon Thurlows

I was absolutely determined that I would have two pairs of me made shorts to take away on holiday. I have a dislike for shopping for shorts, I can rarely find a pair that fit me well around my waist and are the right length. Then there is the ride up factor, I detest shorts that work their way up your legs as you walk. Seriously, what is that about? Shopping for shorts, for me, is like shopping for glasses - I just can't find a pair that works for me and it is a complete nightmare! The Thurlow shorts were to be the answer to my annual dreaded shopping trip. 

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I have loved this pattern since I first set eyes on it. After my shopping trip in Birmingham I knew they would look great in some of the suiting fabric I bought, in particular the grey and green. I did wonder about the navy but couldn't bring myself to make a suit out of my anise and these shorts, even if I wouldn't wear them together! 

I delayed making them until the month before I went away as I'm still losing weight. Great idea as I wanted them to fit the best they could, bad idea on time! I had read up on the pattern ahead of time and knew that I would need to make some alterations. I am essentially using a pattern designed for pear shaped ladies while I have narrow hips. Taking out fabric from the back didn't seem like a big deal but man, I was SO wrong! Stick with me, I have chopped out large parts of my marathon journey. 

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I used the finished measurements to work out which size to cut. The waistband sits across the bellybutton so the waist measurement is different plus there is a lot of ease. I happily traced out the pattern and made a toile. I put it on and as suspected they fitted around my waist but my legs couldn't been seen under so much fabric. I decided to grade down the pattern from the waist to the hem line. This improved the fit around my legs but I ended up with this. 

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What a smile! Using the very helpful series by Sunni, I tried everything I could think of to get rid of it. I added more width to the inseam and lowered the crotch line (I'm not going to apologise here!). You can also see an additional seam in the photo. This is because I had to remove 1.5cm from the back side seam and an additional 2cm from the centre of each of them. By the time I had got to the end of my third toile I knew I needed help and emailed Sarah Liz who has been on a trouser toile mission recently. I then waited patiently, trying not to tweak any more. 

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Sarah Liz saved me the following morning. She realised that I needed to make a sway back adjustment. Why hadn't I thought of that?! I know I can get away without alterations on tops and dresses but clearly not with trousers. Perhaps that is why I struggle to find good fitting trousers of any kind. She also sent me a very helpful comment that told me exactly what to do. I do love the online sewing community. 

I slashed the pattern horizontally in two places. The first was 7.5cm from the waistline and took out 1.5cm wedge from the centre back tapering to nothing at the outside edge. The second was 20cm from the waistline and I added in the amount I had removed. Roll forward to completed toile number four which had the other alterations and to my shock, it worked! Phew! Suddenly I knew I was back in the game and I would have two pairs of brand new shorts to take with me.

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This pattern comes together very easily once you have got the fit right. I was a little worried about adding the zip but in the end it was a piece of cake. I followed Lauren's really helpful tutorial and both zips behaved themselves although I did break a needle by accidentally trying to sew over one of them - not clever. My machine didn't like the belt loops and refused to sew the stitches correctly so I hand stitched them on to the grey ones, skipping them completely on the green. For the lining, I used the left over map fabric for the green pair and the white and grey fabric from my Jasmine for the grey pair. 

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I did need to recut the waist band for the green pair as I somehow got myself mixed up and sewed the lining to the wrong side and then couldn't get it to work once I had realised and tried to correct it.

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I think I prefer the green pair. I do like the grey ones but they lost a little bit of their shine when I was told they looked like the shorts that Adam used to wear to Cubs! Anyway, that doesn't take away from the fact that I finished these and I am proud of them. I almost gave up and was planning a shopping trip but a bit of patience, determination and an ask for help saved me from my nightmare. For that alone, I'm thankful!

Completed: Flowery Alma Blouse

Earlier this year my friend Iona asked me to help her make a skirt. We spent a day together in January where we took measurements, altered her pattern (due to a fabric shortage) and cut out some of the pieces. I promised to take along a project and work on it at the same time. I decided on the Alma blouse. It is a relatively simple pattern and easy to put down and pick up. Yesterday, we got together again to carry on with our adventures. 

We spent a considerable time chatting and swapping over machines. When we unpacked Iona’s machine we found the cord and pedal were missing so we shared mine instead of regularly rethreading one machine. We did a little dance around my flat between the machine and the ironing board to press.  However, we did get a lot done. You’ll have to take my word for this as I didn’t take many photos. You know what it is like when two girls get together when they haven’t seen each other for a while. Iona cut out her lining and stitched the four panels of her skirt together as well as overlocking the seam edges. I took the blouse as far as inserting the zip (darts, shoulder seams, the left side seam and preparing the sleeves and bias tape). 

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Then it was time for Iona to leave and for me to run around tidying the flat while preparing dinner for 5 as well as creating a chocolate roulade. Again, no photos except this bad one of melting the chocolate. It was the perfect evening to finish the day and my guests were nice enough to praise the roulade. 

Originally I had planned to sew the Alma only with Iona but as my new challenge began to sink in I asked if I was allowed to finish it before we met again. Iona agreed - we both know I will always have something on my sewing table. So this morning while Adam was watching the Grand Prix (a permanent part of our weekends during March to November) I got on with my creation. And here it is:

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This is the second time I have made this. The first I dubbed as a wearable muslin because I didn’t quite manage to get the bias tape over the zipper nicely. The result is a slightly itchy feel when I wear it but wear it I do, and you might not be surprised to hear it is pink. On this version I have a much neater finish but I did have to a bit of a fix to get there. Somehow I managed to screw up inserting the bias tape and only realised this once I had trimmed the seam allowance. WIth some experimentation with folding the bias over, I managed to enclose the raw edge and I think I have got away with it - just. And anyway, it will be below my arm so no one will really be able to see!

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I hand-picked the zipper using this great tutorial from Sewaholic. It took me about 30 minutes but I’m please with the result. You can be much more accurate using this method as you can move the fabric a little before committing to a stitch. This is definitely something I will try again. I also got the neckline slightly wrong but I couldn’t be bothered to unpick it all. Can you notice what I did? 

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I picked the fabric up last year on my birthday trip to Goldhawk Road. I have no idea what it is but it feels like satin with a bit of stretch. I was drawn to the pretty flowers and knew immediately what I wanted to make with it.

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I’m really happy with it and it makes a great addition to my wardrobe. So this is pattern two of twenty completed in the 20:20 challenge. It is blue (again!) so I need to steer away from the colour for a while before I use up my allocation. I’m off now to cut out the Laurel pattern and make a muslin. I have a few ideas for this but need to see what it is like on before deciding which way to go. What did you get up to this weekend?