Pirate PJs for Jez

DSC_0039.JPGWhen I came across this fabric on the Minerva Crafts website I couldn’t resist it for some PJ bottoms for Jez – he loves pirates.  I set out make him a set of PJs using the ‘Margot Pyjamas’ pattern from the ‘Love at First Stitch’ book for the bottoms and the Simplicity 2116 T-shirt I’d used for his stripy t-shirts.  In the end, I just bought a plain black t-shirt, as I didn’t have much time and he was keen to start wearing them.

As this is the fourth time I’ve made the PJ bottoms, there isn’t much to say about them, other than it works perfectly for men too.  I am generally a selfish sewer (sewist?), but Jez’s joyful reaction when I make things for him means I love sewing for him as much as for myself, maybe even more.

How often do you sew for your significant other?


Replacement PJ Bottoms

I find that my pyjama tops last longer than my bottoms and, in the past, I’ve thrown out perfectly good tops, just because my bottoms are no longer wearable.  In October, I had two pairs of PJ bottoms wear out.  I realised that I could use the ‘Margot Pyjamas’ pattern from the ‘Love at First Stitch’ book, by Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons, to quickly replace them.

The first, and only, pair of Margot PJs I’d sewn were made with woven fabric, and although they are very comfy, I find stretch PJs much more comfortable.  I bought some pink & white stripe and some black & white check jersey fabric, and very quickly had them made up using my overlocker and twin needles on my sewing machine.  These were a quick, practical make and I’m really pleased with the results.DSC_0008

(As this is a post-dated blog entry, these PJs have since worn out with constant wear and I don’t have any photos, so here is a photo of the fabrics.  That’ll teach me to put off my blogging for nine(!) months.)

Have you extended the life of a matching set by replacing the worn out parts?


Green Heart Skirt

Green Heart SkirtHere is another ‘Clemence Skirt’ from ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons.  I finally built up the courage to tackle another invisible zip …but what a mess!

This skirt went along very similar lines to the last one.  Fun with the gathering …putting in the zip with a zipper foot …trying it on and praise from my boyfriend …disaster as the zip refuses to budge and yet again cutting myself out of the skirt!Green Heart Skirt 2

After much googling about trouble with invisible zips, I decided to invest in an invisible zipper foot and see if that would help.  Well, it did! The zip went in much more easily that before and continued to work after putting on the skirt.  I find that going up and down is quite a useful feature of zips!

Fingers crossed that it works every time.  I am hopeful, but I’ll have to wait for the next attempt to find out.


Grey Star Skirt

Star SkirtMy wardrobe is mainly made up of trousers and tops.  I rarely wear dresses and never wear skirts, although if I were to find the right ones they would probably be very flattering – accentuating my waist, skimming over my large hips and thighs and revealing my shapely calves, which I am very happy with.  With this in mind I decided to have a go at the ‘Clemence Skirt’ again from ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons.

There is no traceable pattern with this skirt, just simple directions for creating your own using your waist and hip measurements.  The instructions for this were very easy to follow.

Everything went very smoothly, following Tilly’s detailed instructions.  I got the chance to do lots of gathering at the waistband, especially as I have a 12 inch difference between my waist and hip measurements.  I find gathering fabrics and trying to make them as even as possible extremely relaxing in a meditative way.

Then, I got to the invisible zip! I used the standard zipper foot on my machine and Tilly’s excellent instructions to get the zip into the skirt and the waistband finished.  I was incredibly impressed with myself. I tried on the unhemmed skirt and loved the fit.  I had deliberately made it long, so I could have lots of choice about where to hem it.  I showed my boyfriend and he was impressed too.

I explained to him that I was going to hem the skirt so it was the same distance from the floor all the way round, which is an improvement on any ready to wear skirts I’d had in the past.  My bum would always pull the hem up at the back and I’d be left feeling exposed.  He pointed out that it might make more sense to make that adjustment at the waistband, so that obvious horizontal pattern wouldn’t look wonky at the bottom of the skirt.  Damn, his practical thinking!  He was right, but it’d have to wait for the next skirt.  There was no way I was unpicking this waistband and zip, and undoing all of my gathering.

Then, I tried to get the skirt off …the zip was stuck!  I tried to unzip it; he tried to unzip it; I tried again!  I had to give up and cut myself out. Bugger!  It went in the bin.Star Skirt 2

Thankfully, it was the bin in the sewing room and not the one in the kitchen! I calmed down and dug it back out.  I cut off the waistband and started again, taking the opportunity to put my boyfriend’s idea into practice.  I figured out how much longer I needed the back of the skirt to be to accommodate my generously proportioned rear and created a gentle curve in the top of the fabric.

I worked my way through the steps again – gathering, inserting the zip sewing a little further from the teeth than last time, finishing the waistband, and finally hemming horizontally with the pattern.  Phew! I now had a finished skirt that fit well at the waist (no gaping) and hips, with a hem that didn’t tip up at the back and a working zip.  I will definitely make this skirt again, but for now I need a bit of a break to recover from all the undoing and redoing that was necessary.


Purple Pyjama Bottoms

PJ1Continuing my exploration of ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons, my next project was the ‘Margot Pyjamas’. I had a pair of pyjama bottoms which had recently worn out and rather than get rid of the whole set, I found this purple fabric from my stash, which I thought would complement the dusky green top.

I made size 22 and used my woven stash fabric, which had no stretch.  They did fit around my hips and bum and, although wearable, were a little bit snug around this area, while being very wide at my calves.  I tripped up a couple of times, catching my big toe at the hem, but I would definitely put that down to my clumsiness as much as the fit of the pjs – wearing slippers helped to solve this problem.

PJ2I made them with the draw-string, having perfected the technique on my Kindle cover, but I think I would probably prefer them with an elasticated waist.  The instructions were very clear though, and I’ll definitely be making some more, but with the following adjustments:

  • Use a knit fabric
  • Make the waist elasticated
  • Taper the legs to the ankles by a couple of inches


Red and White Spotty Kindle Cover

Kindle CoverSince December I’ve been working in Manchester and catching the train from my local station just outside Leeds four days a week.  It’s been a great way to get some more reading into my day and I’ve been making very good use of my kindle.  I do find that my kindle cover (which includes a pull-out light) is a bit bulky and its sturdiness is not really necessary in my work bag.  I thought I’d have a go at making a lighter drawstring cover to simply protect the screen when it’s in my handbag.

Using some of the fabric left over from my red and white spot blouse, and some interfacing to make it a little thicker, I created a flat, lined pouch.  I’d made some draw string bags in the past but never quite figured out how to make a tidy opening for the draw-string.  I’d recently been reading ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons and one of the patterns I was planning on working with next was the Pyjama bottoms.  This had a great method for creating a draw-string channel with a very neat opening, so I used this and I was really pleased with the result.  It has definitely lightened my daily load.


Red and White Spotty Scarf

Love_At_First_Stitch_cover_1024x1024Since returning to sewing I have also been discovering the great variety of sewing blogs that are online.  Previously, I wrote about sewing (and other things), but didn’t read many other blogs.  It seems a little self-absorbed now that I think about it, and I was really missing out.  I’m really glad that I’ve started looking outside of my own world of sewing.  There are some fabulous blogs out there – entertaining, inspiring and great fashion voyeurism.  And then there are all the great patterns and sewing books that have been brought to my notice through these blogs.  The first sewing book I heard of which was written by a blogger is ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly Walnes of Tilly and the Buttons.

It is a beautiful book, with lovely crisp photos of clothes that
look very well made.  I have seen books which have photos of clothes that look like they have been quickly knocked together and don’t leave me feeling inspired, but this book had inspiration oozing from every page.  There are even some style ideas after each of the patterns, showing how you could adapt the clothes to make them your own.Scarf

I decided to start at the beginning with the scarf pattern, which I wanted to make to match my red and white spot blouse. The instructions were simple and clear.  Including the time I spent just ogling the book, I had a scarf ready to tie in my hair just two hours after I opened the book.

I’m now looking forward to progressing through the other patterns in the book.  I’m a little concerned that I’m right at the top of the size range, but until I get sewing I won’t know whether I’ll be able to make them work.  Fingers crossed on that one.

Do you have a favourite sewing book?