Tomber la chemise


One of my recent projects was to make a shirt for my sewing crazy boyfriend (haha!) Nico. And in the end I made two!


The first one was an adaptation of the Men’s shirt pattern from the GBSB book ‘Sew Your Own Wardrobe’. I used some blue shirting cotton that I have no recollection of purchasing and some mystery green material for the back yoke also from the depths of my stash.


The lovely green eggshell buttons come from Gold Fingers.


As the pattern just has a simple collar with no stand I drafted one using this handy guide from Em Makes Patterns.

I also lengthened the sleeves and added cuffs and plackets.


As Nico is a slim bean I just decided to go for it and make up the smallest size to see if it would fit him as I viewed the first shirt as a test and ‘skill sharpening’ exercise anyway. It’s wearable but a little too tight under the arms for his liking.

‘Hmmmm, sew me another shirt, and make sure it fits this time!’


So back to the drawing board for attempt two!

For the next shirt I picked a grey warm soft fleecy-like cotton from Berger and rubbed off one of his favourite shirts to make sure that this time I got one that fitted him as he likes. I added white piping for a country and western look!

‘Let’s dance!’


I’d like to make another one and really go all out with the country and western feel – I love the use of piping and the front feature of the République du Chiffon ‘Jolaine’ shirt so might steal the idea for a men’s shirt.

Construction wise I had a great time making these shirts. I got really into trying to be as accurate as possible and work out the best way to do things.


Here are some online resources I found indispensable:

> Em Makes Patterns is one of the most useful blogs ever! Love the focus on pattern manipulation/adaptation/construction. I followed her how-to on copying a shirt pattern to the letter.

> My GBSB ‘Sew Your Own Wardrobe’ book Men’s shirt instructions were useful for the basic first steps, particularly the button bands. It was good to have some basic instructions to start from which I could adapt.

> The last time I made a shirt it was the Grainline Archer. The method used in the Archer instructions is to join the collar to the stand and then attach the whole thing to the shirt. However, I much prefer the method Sewaholic use in their instructions which involves making the collar first, then attaching the collar stand to the shirt using a collar stand template. Lastly, you attach the collar to the stand.


> I turned back to Grainline for the plackets though as I think this explanation is great, as is the one for cuff construction.



Now my plan is to make a third shirt and really hone the process. It’s frustrating when you learn something (such as collar and stand construction) and really grasp it but then forget it again when you don’t do it for a while!

The only thing I don’t enjoy about shirt making is buttonholes; probably my least favourite and most fear-inducing sewing task. I find it so tricky to do them and there is so much pressure as you only get one shot!

Above all, Nico is happy (I hope)! And I might try to sneakily wear one of these shirts from time to time too…



Disclaimer: Nico bears sole responsibility for the moustache featured in this post.

A new favourite coat part 3: it’s finished!


A few weeks ago I finished my coat – finally! You can read my previous two posts about my adventures in coat making here and here.

When I finished it at first I had that feeling you have when you finish a sewing project and you’re not sure if you are happy with it or not yet. I left it to grow on me for a wee while before daring to wear it out the house. I’m now home in Scotland for Christmas and I’ve even brought it with me as my ‘coat of choice’ for the trip!

It’s far from perfect but I love the shape of the coat and the fabric is great as it goes with everything but isn’t dull. For my next such coat adventure I’ll make sure I add a collar – I feel that is definitely missing! I added a decorative wooden button too which I think it goes really well with the blue and black checked fabric.

For the lining I used a thick almost tweed-like material from Berger. I knew I didn’t want a cheap polyester lining and I wanted it to be breathable too. So far I’m happy with it and it is keeping me warm.

This was a project I’m really proud of and I’m really happy I drafted/rubbed off my own coat pattern rather than using an existing pattern – I definitely learnt a lot!

I think I must have caught the coat making bug as I’ve already nearly finished another coat – a waterproof! I’ll be back in January with some pictures – once I work out how to add snap buttons (way more complicated than it looks).

Before leaving for the holidays I got some pictures of my new lovely coat out and about on the mean streets of Brussels.
Happy Christmas everyone – here’s to unpicking, topstitching, backstitching – and to sewing adventures in 2016!










Hometown glory

Imagine my delight and surprise when I was home in Scotland this summer to find that a sewing shop has opened up in my hometown!


Holm Sown is a lovely shop situated on King Street, the main thoroughfare through the lovely town of Castle Douglas in south-west Scotland, where I happily spent the first 18 years of my life. The shop sits across the road from the Sulwath Brewers – which is incidentally where I was heading when I first saw the shop!

I find seeing physical versions of sewing patterns in a bricks and mortar shop pretty exciting as I’m so used to seeing anything to do with sewing through the screen of my computer. Coming in to real contact with ‘sewing things’ whether it be in a shop or meeting people you’ve connected with online is great. Seeing the likes of Grainline Studio patterns and Sewaholic patterns staring back at me through the shop window I had to go in.

I really hope the shop does well. If I’m honest I was surprised to see a sewing shop in Castle Douglas as I wouldn’t have immediately thought there would be a huge market in passing trade in a small town. But the fact that the shop offers workshops and has an online shop will surely help. I had a quick chat with Rachel who runs the shop and she is really nice, so I wish her lots of success and I can’t wait to pop in at Christmas time with my Mum and see what delights are on offer!

So what did I pick up the last time? I got some Merchant and Mills fabric which I really like but have not dared cut into yet! I also got a Megan Neilson’s Darling Ranges dress pattern which I’ve sewn up in the leftover fabric from my last White Tree Fabrics project.

I made some slight modifications in that I didn’t add the elastic or the buttons so it just pulls over my head. There was also some unorthodox fitting techniques at the neckline but I think the flowery fabric is forgiving enough that this doesn’t stand out too much. I’ve now made the adjustment on the pattern so if I make it again it will be a cleaner finish.

And take a look at my earrings below – my talented friend Krysia makes them out of old bike tyre inner tubes!







Chin to the chest



When my yoga teacher said she was looking for someone with a sewing machine to make some rice pillows I quickly volunteered my services. It was a good opportunity to use up some of my ever-growing collection of fabric scraps and as I said in my previous post, sometimes you just need a simple sewing project.

It was nice to make things that will be used by other people too.

The pillows are 21.5cm by 11cm and have an in inner pillow made out of cotton calico. The inner pillow is full of 200g of rice plus a liberal sprinkling of lavender.

The idea is to place the pillow over your eyes at the end of the class as demonstrated in this photo. The weight of the rice is soothing as is the smell of the lavender, and it helps you to relax.

I’m happy to bring together sewing and yoga as they are both two activities I love!

(‘Chin to the chest’ is what my lovely teacher is always reminding my to do as apparently I have a tendency to tilt my head back!)







A new favourite coat part 2: winter is coming!


The coat I started in May is still a work in progress six months on. I’m not going to lie – I wish I was faster at sewing it, but sometimes other things in life get in the way. Since May I’ve done a fair bit of sewing but when I turned to the coat rather than just getting stuck in, that pesky voice in the head that stops us facing up to new challenges would get in the way.

I would start to work on the coat and then decide to make a dress instead or pontificate about other sewing ideas. While I’ve sewn jackets before (the RdC Gerard I lade last October is still a big favourite), this coat was out of my comfort zone, and to boot I’m making the pattern up as I go along using my favourite coat as a model.

There were many times over the last few months when I didn’t feel like doing much on the coat, even though I felt like sewing.  Exploring this feeling has taught me some more about my relationship with sewing.

If I don’t feel that great I might need to feel productive and switch off by going through the motions of sewing something I feel comfortable with. I’m probably not in the best frame of mind for giving welt pockets a go for the first time, for example. If I mess it up (and I’m more likely to with an agitated mind) I’ll likely take the failure to heart and blow it completely out of perspective in my mind, adopting an ‘oh typical’, ‘just my luck’, ‘well I’m shit at sewing so of course I messed it up’ attitude.

Whereas, generally, if I feel on top of things in life, content, well, and generally at peace, I’m much happier to push myself and work out new things and get a bit messy – i.e. have all surfaces and available floorspace covered in sewing stuff. And if it doesn’t work out I won’t view it as time lost or as a ‘failure’, I’ll just be happy to have learnt something and to have been sewing.

I’m happy to report that over the past week I was in the latter more positive sewing groove and have made some steps forward with the coat!

First of all… the zip and zip flap are in ! I wanted to emulate the zip construction on my model coat exactly.


The facing is in! Photos of some unorthodox facing drafting methods. I decided to not have a collar.


And…after much practicing the welt pockets are in!


I think what ultimately sets apart homemade wool coats and ‘professional’ coats is that it is so hard to press the seams properly! So I need to do some more work to get them as smooth as possible.

Just the lining to draft and sew and I might have this coat ready before the real Belgian winter sets in.