A t-shirt for light relief

“hey lady, why does your t-shirt have CAT CATT CATT CATTHAT CAT written on it?”

Well maybe you should ask the question why isn’t yours covered in what looks like graffiti written by a four year old.

This post is mainly about the fabric because, look it at.

The top is just yet another Plantain so nothing to say there that hasn’t already been said. Except the sleeves seem ever so slightly tight on this version even those it’s the same size as always (40)

I got the fabric in Abakhan in Manchester because it made me laugh. And in these troubled times, sometimes you need to be able to look down and see the words FAUX FUR printed for no earthly reason and feel yourself uplifted, just for a moment.

In hindsight I kind of wish I’d picked a pattern with a bit more of a modern fit, something a bit more boxy perhaps. Although it’s too late for this one, I’ve got plenty more fabric so I may do something different when this one’s useful life has ended in a few years. Isn’t it sad to already be foreseeing the demise of an item that has only just been created? Makes me dwell on the simple futility of life… I’ll just have to look down at my left arm.. ha, FAUX FUR. I feel better.

I feel like the top would be more at home in the graffiti covered urban streets of Brussels but since I’m having a week enjoying my in laws’ garden I thought I may as well make the most of the change of scenery for the blog photos.
Except the Welsh sunshine is in my eyes.

May you find a fabric that makes you happy and may it be cheap and plentiful and with at least 15% stretch. Because in a changing world, even fabric needs to be flexible.

City Gym city slim

I understand the fashionable thing these days if you’ve been losing weight is to talk about one’s
“weight loss journey” I won’t do that.
I’ll just say that I’ve been employing the very complicated strategy of moving more and eating less and am feeling much better about myself than I have for while.
In that spirit, I was scrolling around for shorts patterns and came across the free Purl Soho City Gym shorts and was sold by the idea.
Purl Soho
Purl Soho

I don’t have enough money (read: too cheap) to have a gym membership so every step down to the metro or ten second sprint as the bus is pulling away is counted towards my daily exercise goal. I live on the third floor without a lift and I definitely think carrying bags of cat litter back from Lidl is as good as ten bench presses.
So here are my City Gym shorts that will hopefully encourage me to be city slim.

As is usual, I did some things differently because no one’s gonna tell me what to do.
Firstly, instead of the bias binding I used stretch lace that I had kicking around. I love stretch lace. I use it underwear all the time and also in camisoles and knotted together in tangled messes in the sewing room…
The black and white print is a scrap of rayon and the main fabric is from Minerva Crafts. It reminds me about of the type of fabric that school uniforms are made from.

I left the side seams a bit open because I thought it would look cool but actually it just flips out too much. I’ll go back and stitch it down later. Maybe I should do as I’m told after all.

The pattern comes together really nicely, very quick and very pleasing. I suppose making the bias binding would double the time but definitely give lace a try if you have some. Or anything else. Ribbon maybe? Whatever. You do you.


Anyone else love seeing colour blocked seams match up? What a saddo.

I do like the weird combination here of the gothy black lace and the school uniform grey polyester.

Another thing I did differently – ignored the waistband. I just folded over the top and put the elastic through that. Dunno why, just felt like it. I think it looks fine like that.

It’s all about those overlapping side seams

I’ll leave you with my fantastic photography skillz:

whoops.

Balièn ice cream sorbet 

Firstly, ‘scuse the bad hair day pics

Secondly, here’s a top I made last summer. I wore it once or twice in August and then decided I didn’t like the fit. Somehow though it survived a Marie Kondo-ing of my wardrobe and a move across the English Channel but then sat crumpled in a ball at the back of one of my shelves throughout the winter as nothing more than an optimistic hope of summer. That day has finally arrived! I’ll tell you what, there were some tough January days when I didn’t think I’d ever see green trees again, let alone be warm enough to wear a strappy top in clashing pink and red that wouldn’t look out of place as a fancy new flavour of ice cream.


The fabric is a permanently crinkled chiffon type material and the white stripe at the bottom is part of the print. I bought it as a metre cut for £2 back at The Fent Shop in Skipton which I’ve waxed lyrical about before.

The pattern is the free Balièn top/dress by Pauline Alice.

I didn’t like the fit last year because it came out fairly big and the darts are a bit low but that might be to do with the straps being long. The darts seem quite angled compared to what I’m used to as well. This year I’ve decided to embrace it.


I didn’t make the shorts by the way, they’re from the British Heart Foundation charity shop if I remember correctly. I would love a pattern for something similar though. I have the Grainline Maritime but the fit is waaaaay off and I can’t quite face making all the adjustments.


I think the straps would be a bit more flattering if I sewed them a bit nearer the centre back. Again, shorter straps wouldn’t go amiss either.


The colours are a bit weird but I do like them. Kind of cheerful and fun without being too childish. I’m not one for wearing novelty fruit or flower prints so this is my own brand of sunshine-gear.

My new friend Pacco approves anyway. He is easily pleased though.

A vintage Vogue pattern haul

Today I took myself off for a trip to my mothership.
Les Petits Riens have shops all over the place but my favourite is their big store which is laid out over a sprawling set of buildings full of trash, treasure and everything in between.
I went there for a delve into the clothes but actually came across this massive shelf of sewing patterns.

I can only imagine this is what miners in the 1800s must have felt like when they came across a seam of gold.

I’ve been to this shop quite a few times now and had never noticed this before. That added to the fact that 95% of the patterns were Vogue, from similar eras and pretty much the same size range makes me wonder whether this whole lot came from one benefactor.

By the way, don’t be jealous but all the patterns were priced at €2.50. I know.

There was a lot of big shoulders and dull skirts but some gems too. I bought five.

Here’s the first one I grabbed:

I like the dropped waist. I’ll probably take it in quite a lot though to be more flattering to my body type and cut the skirt much shorter.
The line drawing is promising anyway.

I’ve been after a V neck t shirt pattern for a while so grabbed this one. I won’t ruche up the side.

I like the interesting cuts on this one. I can imagine wearing all of these styles. View C in particular is intriguing.

I like the cut out sleeve design and half placket on these shirts. I’m very hopeful for this one

This one I picked up partly because it was interesting but mostly because these are the most hilarious line drawings I’ve ever seen

Wait for it….
Told you! Maybe that’s my mothership

Here’s one I didn’t buy – a 1980’s onesie pattern:

So that’s it! I’m pretty pleased.
I hope that there’s someone else in the world who is excited as I was when I came across these patterns when they discover Belgium’s greatest selection of second hand trouser presses

An ancient philosopher themed pink sweater


I spent my most recent bout of sewing thinking about ancient philosophers. This isn’t normal.
I made a Grainline Hemlock and was trying to remember which of those dudes died by drinking poison hemlock. It was that guy ↑, Socrates! My A Level Classics teacher would have been disappointed that I forgot. But I think he spent two years being slightly disappointed in me so fine.
Shall we get back to sewing?

It’s more of a Hemlock jumper than a Hemlock tee as I made it with a sweater knit that I picked up as a precut length of 2m for 10€ with exactly this sort of thing in mind. Something to throw on and the end of a summer evening when it starts to get chilly
This little flowery patch is right outside our apartment and it looked so mundane when we moved here in November but it’s really sweet now.
The pattern only comes in one size and it’s very straightforward, no shaping and no set in sleeves. It works really nicely in very lightweight fabrics and I’ve had a couple of those in my time too.
I find the sleeve length pretty strange but I always push my sleeves up anyway so no biggee.

I made this up in about an hour and a half while listening to a podcast. Current favourite for sewing – Unexplained. I’m not really bothered by supernatural stuff in general but I think these are really well done and generally quite captivating.
Hey look, there’s something weird hanging from the tree
Instead of the neck binding I decided to do use bias binding because I didn’t think the fabric would be stretchy enough. The binding is left over from this make and the linen means it is really lightweight.
This is me showing you the bias tape, not my orrible nails

My overlocker is now covered in bits of pink fluff.

Two very important tests for new garments – number one: take out for a test drink

Number two: spin

Print on print on print

Yesterday I took a trip to sunny Antwerp for a pretty fantastic fabric expo. Deets here if you want ’em.
I came away with pretty much everything on my list plus a couple of extras. Including this one! I’ve never seen anything quite like it. It was a pre cut panel consisting of three mis-matched prints, two palm leaf type ones and then another white and green line drawing of a very nice looking lady making wine. I’ve actually looked it up and found that it’s a fabric produced by Knippie which is the kids version of the Dutch pattern magazine Knipmode. It’s also selling for more on the website than I paid. Phew.

I’m always up for strange fabric so I paid up €8 for the panel.
I loved how the prints clashed so I decided to keep it pretty much intact and just make a very simple skirt.
My initial idea was for it to be pleated but it wasn’t quite wide enough so I just gathered it instead.
You know how it goes – three rows of basting stitches gathered to a strip of fabric a bit bigger than your waist measurement. Waistband attached and the bit bigger becomes the overlap. Stick on a podcast and if you’re feeling fancy, finish the inside of the waistband by hand. I did just that, not because I was feeling fancy but because it was sunny on the balcony and who doesn’t love to sew and tan at the same time.

Normally I’m not a fan of this style on me because I think it tends to accentuate my hips and bum but also because I often feel too girly for comfort. This isn’t too bad though. Not too poofy.

28 degrees C today, I can cope with that!

Especially if I’m in a wood.

I’m wearing it here with a heavily modified Grainline Hemlock t-shirt in non-descript grey jersey. It actually started off as a maxi dress, then I lopped a chunk off to make a nightdress and today I chopped another few inches off as well as the sleeves and made it into a t-shirt.

In my haste to make the skirt in time for going out for lunch I forgot to interface the waistband so made do with stay tape around the top.

One admission though. I didn’t prewash the fabric. I know, I know. You’re going to put dog poo in my letter box aren’t you. I’m just crossing my fingers that it doesn’t shrink too much.

If those trees were palm trees then I would be completely invisible.

A yawn is a silent shout

Here’s the thing about sewing. It takes time, it takes effort and it takes money.
Admittedly I am likely to try to get away with the minimum of all those three, but still.
Sometimes you just need clothes, you know? Yes, sometimes I want to sew something ridiculously difficult and time consuming using every gadget I own but sometimes I just need something.to.wear.

For me it’s both a hobby and a lifestyle. Yes, I do it because I enjoy it but I also do it because I made a pact with myself (about 18 months ago I think) not to buy any new clothes. Therefore when I do need a plain white top (and I realise the word ‘need’ is subjective here) I can’t just spend ten minutes on ASOS on my lunchbreak and carry on with my life. It takes time – to find a pattern, to trace/cut/print and cut it, to make adjustments, to actually sew the sodding thing. It takes effort to, you know, learn how to do all that in the first place and it takes money to buy the fabric, the pattern, the sewing machine, the needles, the thread and the fancy bias binding maker that actually takes longer than not using one but makes you feel ‘proper’.
So here’s a plain white top, because I needed one.

I already had the pattern traced (past me for the win!) and I had this remnant of cool crepe-like fabric that a stall holder at the market gave me because he thought I was flirting with him. I wasn’t, I promise. I just thought it was sweet that he praised my French skills – in English.

About twenty minutes into sewing it I was congratulating myself on coming across such a cool fabric with its subtle teardrop shape that is a useful solid colour but is interesting too.

About forty-five minutes into sewing it I realised the fabric reminded me of something.

About an hour into sewing it I realised what it reminded me of.

Now I like it even more.

Here’s to (very little) time, money and effort. And to making a top covered in covert poo emojis. I have rarely felt more of a millennial.

(Oh, it’s a Burda 105 1/2016. Size 38 graded to a 42 and with a little extra length because I think it looks cooler. Also without the little modesty panel bit because I’ve never been one to let Burda dictate my modesty.)