It’s all about running – Kwik Sew 3455 leggings

I’m new to running.

I started running over the summer when I found that I needed a sanity break whilst I wasn’t walking my 20 -30 miles on the school run.

Once school started again, I kept going.

To start with I just ran in what I had in my drawer but as the months went by I realised that I probably needed a few more clothes, if only to cut down on the times the washing machine was on!

First off I hit the shops. It was depressing. Nothing fitted particularly well. Too big, too long……

So naturally I turned to my sewing machine. I found Kwik Sew 3455 – looked simple enough and ordered some grey (yawn ….. boring) supplex from Tissu.

I sewed up a size small  straight off the pattern based on my measurements. It’s a one piece pattern (aside from the gusset – yep, you heard me right, they are gussetted leggings) and a doddle to sew.

But they were HUGE and very baggy. Not a good look! I must have lopped some 6 inches out of the thighs and a couple out of the hips and waist. They could probably do with a bit more out at the hip/ waist area if I’m honest.

They have been out loads of times, through the mud, raced in them and been in and out of the washer and dryer. They’re fabulous, super soft, bobble free and haven’t shrunk a bit.

I also ran up a belt using this tutorial. It’s great for popping my phone and keys in and there’s even enough space to cram my gloves in. It was quick and straightforward to sew and the foldover elastic (purchased from here) went on a treat – much easier than I’d thought. It works so well,  I often forget I have it on!!


There’s a lot in there!! Gloves, phone and keys

Next up I’m going for something a little more exciting – Fehrtrade’s PB Jam Leggings. They’ve been on a test run (one 11 miler and a hill training session) and now all I’m waiting for is a photographer to be around when it’s still daylight – roll on British Summer Time!!


Ghostly goings on – sew your own Halloween ghost costume

I’m normally a bit ‘bah humbug’ about the whole Halloween thing and have been known to put up one of those ‘No trick or treaters’ posters!

But then I had children who went to school and along came the Halloween disco…

Halloween ghost

Now, every year I let Honey decide what she’d like to dress up as and get my creative head on and design a costume. Previous years have seen me refashion a tunic top as a witches costume and get creative with a long drapey skirt and a coat hanger to make bat wings.

This year the request was for a ghost.

OK, so I could have gone for a sheet, plonked it over her head cut a couple of holes for the eyes and said “off you go!” but that would have been too easy.

This was a pretty straightforward make and everything except the face paints and tights I already had.

Want to make your own? Here are some brief instructions to create the look.

Fabric choices – something light weight as it will give a better drape. I used white polycotton sheeting for the main fabric. I also added an underskirt as I knew otherwise I’d not hear the end of the tight sticking issues – I used some standard (ish – it has a bit of a crinkle effect going on) white lining fabric

Ghostly going's on

1. I cut a large rectangle, folded at the head end that was long enough to reach the ground and went a bit further than each outstretched arm. To do this, I just got Honey to lie down on top of the fabric. You could be more accurate and take measurements.

2. Cut a head opening in the middle. Fold your doubled rectangle in half and cut out a curved shape at the corner – try using a plate/saucer. Don’t worry if it ends up too big – you can always sew it up a bit.

3. Make a vertical cut at the centre front from the head opening down – approx 20 cms long so that your child can get their head in!

4. Mark the ‘dress’ shape on your fabric after having folded it in half along the centre front and in half across the neck edge. If your fabric has a right and a wrong side, do this right sides together.

kimono shape

5. Cut along the lines and then stitch using your chosen seam allowance

6. Finish the edges (you will need to clip under the arms making sure you don’t clip your stitching). I just used the pinking shears everywhere.

8. Finish the edges of the centre front opening (that you created at 3) using bias binding folded in half.

7. Using your tape measure on its edge measure your desired neck opening. You are going to need this measurement to construct a hood.

8. Add seam allowances – one for creating a hem on the hood and another for joining the two halves together

9. Draw a hood shape. The bottom edge will be half your total measurement calculated at 8.

10. Cut out two hood shapes. Join down the curved edge. Finish the front edge of the hood.

11. Attach the hood to the neck edge. You may need to ease (I added a small pleat at the back!) or clip some of the curved edges to get it to fit.

12. Fold two approx 20 cms lengths of bias binding in half and stitch along the edge. These will make your ties. Attach ties to the top of the centre front opening on either side just below the hood.

Hurrah! You have now finished the main ghost costume.

Next up, add you finishing touches. I used my pinking shears and cut leaf shapes all the way round the bottom edge and around the end of the sleeves. As I knew the costume would be worn with tights I also made an underskirt. I used Tasia’s wonderful tutorial reducing the ease slightly as this is for a 7 year old. I added the same leaf shapes using my pinking shears to the underskirt too.

Little Miss Ghostie

Finally, I used Snazaroo face paints to add the ghostly make up and found some white eyeball covered tights!

Honey was unrecognisable!!

Let’s Pyjama Party!!

Pyjamas & so to bedIf you knew how much I love sleeping (I really don’t get as much as I’d like  – that’s children for you), you’d know that when I saw Karen’s invitation to the Pyjama Party I wasn’t going to say no.

We read far too much Winnie the Pooh in our house and I couldn’t resist the ‘bump, bump, bump’ up the stairs moment, although clearly I’m taller than Christopher Robin and there has been a bit of change of direction.

“Here is Edward Bear (later named Winnie-The-Pooh), coming downstairs now, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping a moment and think of it. And then, he feels that perhaps there isn’t. Anyhow, here he is at the bottom, and ready to be introduced to you.” From Winnie-The-Pooh, by A.A. Milne.

So here are the details.

I really love Tasia’s Tofino Lounge pants but budgets being what they are, I knew I had to make do with what I had. I dug out my copy of Amy Butler’s In Stitches which I’ve had for some time and have coveted quite a few of the patterns but haven’t made anything yet and checked out the ‘Wide-legged lounge pants’. Now I knew I didn’t want full length bottoms. I have loads of those already but for summer I needed another pair of shorts.

I added about 10 cms to the bottom of the templates (rather than the whole leg length) and decided to just make them ‘as is’ in size ‘S’. I used french seams throughout as there is nothing I hate more than itchy seams in sleepwear.

The material, a batik print cotton lawn was from my stash and is something my neighbour gave me when she has a clear out a couple of years ago (her husband had brought it back from a trip to India, I think). I have spent quite some time trying to decide what to make with it. It’s only 100cm wide and I had about 2.5 metres and then there is the pattern that would require matching… so I guess you can see why, beautiful as it is, it has lain unused for some time.

I matched the pattern at the hem by cutting from each end of my length of fabric. It wasn’t until I sewed everything together that I realised that the pattern wasn’t exactly the same at either end, so it doesn’t match up further up. Oh well, at least they’re only pyjamas!!

Rather than making a sash/belt I bought some velvet ribbon.

They look huge on the hanger. When I showed my husband he asked me if they’d go small enough! ( and yes he was being serious!) There is a touch more ease in them than necessary but I decided to leave them as they are. No one wants tight fitting PJ bottoms – do they?

Shorty pyjamas in detail

And the top – well I’m sure you can guess that pattern…

…that’s right, it’s none other than Megan Nielsen’s Briar.

I love this pattern. It is wonderful for someone like me who was rather apprehensive of knits and getting along with her overlocker.

I had traced the pattern and made some alterations way back when Megan did the Briar sewalong but just didn’t have the spare time to do anything with it. This was my first time sewing knits and Megan’s pattern.  I redrew the neckline about 2.5 cms higher and changed the length to come to just below my waist (much as I loved cropped tops back in the 80s nothing will convince me post children to bare my midriff – ever).

I decided not to adjust the width and see how it sewed up. In the end, I probably took it in by about 2 inches. I actually think I need to adjust it further and take some out of the centre front and back as I think it comes up a bit too wide at the neckline and on the shoulders.

I opted for the neckbinding option, personally I’d like it to be narrower so I shall try the other neck option next time. I’d also bind the armholes as I think it would look more balanced.

A word on the grain. Getting my fabric straight was a nightmare. In the end I gave up and just cut the pattern pieces out. I dread to think how it’s going to wash!! I used a lightweight jersey from Tissu which is lovely and soft and my overlocker and sewing machine had no complaints whatsoever. Unfortunately the selvedge edges curled, curled and then…. just for good measure curled some more, probably a whole 3-4 cms on each side. Next time, I shall be getting the clothes pegs out and pegging it to my table. Unless of course someone has any other suggestions?

I am looking forwards to wearing these tonight and can’t thank Karen enough for hosting the pyjama party.

I shall be spending the day browsing all the other pyjamas 🙂

Teepee time – sew your own tent

All sewn up - the teepee

This has been the most popular thing that I have made for my daughters. They love it and it really seems to be great for collaborative play. Honey even managed to put it up herself this afternoon.

So here’s the rundown on how I made it. I used this tutorial from My Poppet but didn’t follow it to the letter.


6 x 18mm dowel (210cm long)

4 metres home decorating weight cotton (lilac polka dots)

2 metres navy heavy cotton twill (from my stash)

(My Poppet suggests using a sheet, I wanted something more durable and stronger)


Cotton tape

3 reels of thread

Firstly I measured up to decide how big I wanted the finished teepee to be. I was aiming for 180cm high x 180 cm wide. I then used some maths (and bit of help from this) to calculate what size I needed to cut the panels.


Measurements for each panel

I drew the shape directly onto the reverse of the fabric with a fabric pencil. I have a long ruler that I use for curtain and blind making which came in handy for joining all the lines. I added a 4cm seam allowance on either side, 2 cm at the top and 4cm at the bottom. As suggested I then used my initial panels as templates to cut the rest which made things go pretty quickly.

As my fabric was only 137cm wide, I cut 3 whole panels and 6 halves (which I then joined).

I used french seams to join the panels to keep the inside nice and neat and one of the joined panels became the door opening.

I should have added the ribbons to tie the door before joining everything together – it would have been so much easier but  hindsight is a wonderful thing! I used the cotton tape to make 12 loops for tent pegs to secure it when being used outside. In practice, six would have been plenty (and we only have 6 tent pegs – doh)!

All in all everything went together quite easily and it was a fairly quick make with lots of straight stitching. It did use A LOT of thread. I went through about 3 reels (all in slightly varying shades of neutral!).

And there you have it! A children’s teepee that will hopefully last them many years to come. Why not have a go yourself?

Ribbons blowing in the wind

Ribbons blowing in the wind

The best laid plans ….

Measuring up the teepee

As any project manager knows, plans do change. Things may take longer than expected, staff or other resources may become unavailable. It happens. My plans this week have been turned upside down.

A website that I work on (voluntarily) had to be put ‘live’ due to the existing site being taken down with no notice. The first I knew about it was staff calling me asking why they couldn’t access their emails. I had a very fraught 48 hours getting the site up and working. I have nothing but nice things to say about the host (Clook) they were great and pointed me in the right direction when I was really, really stuck. I then had to down tools for a whole range of reasons (funerals, hospital appointments, birthdays).

Sewing therefore, has had to take a bit of a back seat. But as I’m on a deadline (Honey’s birthday) it can’t stop altogether!

I have now finished her Oliver & S Sailboat skirt and a top that I’ve made from a self-drafted block. Pictures will have to wait until she is able to model them! Fingers crossed they fit…

Oliver & S Sailboat Top and Skirt

Making things from old, unloved clothes was not as straightforward as I thought! Firstly, it’s hard to find where the grain should be once you’ve unpicked everything – I guessed! Secondly, some clothes just aren’t as big as you think they are and getting a whole skirt back from one leg of jeans was challenging.

The latter was the reason why I end up drafting my own pattern. The sailboat top has a lovely boat neckline which fastens with buttons. I tried adapting it but I just wasn’t confident that it was going to work and it still wouldn’t fit on the fabric I had, so I decided to draft my own. At least that way, I know exactly what the measurements are and where to adjust if necessary.

sleeveless-blockIt was pretty straightforward to draft and one big bonus of the sleeveless block is that the armscyes (armholes to you and me!) are the same for the front and back.

That’s two projects down for the big birthday bash and one to go. As you can see we’ve measured up for the teepee. Ian just needs to put his maths skills into practice and tell me exactly how large my panels need to be so I can cut them out. That will be tomorrows job – along with lots more tidying!!

Everyone needs a plan…

When I decided I wanted to start blogging I hadn’t realised how much my head would be buzzing with ideas – things to sew, patterns to draft, things to knit, presents to make. There is so much inspiration out there, it’s hard for me to know where to start.
So with my best project managers hat on (ohhhh that life before children!), I need a plan.
Setting deadlines and tracking milestones isn’t really going to work for my current lifestyle where everything needs to be moveable but I need some kind of task list to keep my objectives at the fore.

I also took heart from So Zo’s recent post about refashioning and using your fabric stash. It just fits in with the rest of my ethos for life and yet it hadn’t occurred to me before that it was an area that I could address. That said, I have boxes of fabric (dressmaking and home dec) that are crying out to be used (and I need to reclaim the space).

So incorporating both those ideas, here is the first in a series of posts on my sewing, knitting and crafting plans.

May is always a busy month for me as there are two birthdays – and well they’re a big deal for Honey (she’ll be 7). I always try to make something for the girl’s birthdays. Last year, Honey was feeling left out because I’d made things for Poppet so I made her a bear.

Birthday Bear

A birthday bear for Honey

This year my plans are probably a little more ambitious – if not larger in scale!

Here’s what I have planned

  • Teepee

This will be loosely based on My Poppet’s DIY Tee Pee although I plan to make it a little larger and I may put a bottom in it. I’m hoping I have enough pieces of fabric in my stash in suitable weights to mean I don’ t need to buy anything.

  • Denim skirt

I’m going to use an old pair of Ian’s (my husband!) jeans as he always wears them out in the seat area and do something with my Oliver & S Sailboat skirt pattern

  • Top

I’m still undecided on the top. I may use the Oliver & S Sailboat top pattern and turn it into either a sleeveless or short sleeve top in woven fabric or as a t-shirt. I have hand-me-down items that could be refashioned into either.

I love planning things to make for the girls and I’m hoping the the Tee Pee will be a big hit. Hopefully, she’ll be able to use it both indoors and out. I’m sure I’ll be asked if she can sleep out in it!!