What I made for the PRSewing Bee 2015 Final….and an unfortunate side effect….

Hello chums,

Allow me to present my final entry for the PRSewing bee. An ensemble for a Jamaican swimming competitor. Finished in good without as much stress as the previous round. Here is the link http://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/readreview.pl?readreview=1&ID=117090.

Be afraid. This review is not for the faint-hearted, I will be delving into the depths of swimwear sewing and revealing unexpected talent and I also discovered a whole new style of sewing that requires no pins!

Identify which of the following is reflected in your entry:
1. Summer or Winter Olympics : Summer Olympics
2. Country your entry represents : Jamaica
3. Event your outfit represents (Options include opening ceremony, a specific athletic completion, which you identify) : Opening ceremony and Swimming

Describe how your entry represents your 3 criteria stated above.
Summer tracksuit with shorts. Colours focused on the main black and green with yellow accents of the Jamaican flag. Tracksuit that can be worn over the swimming costume for the event and can be worn for opening ceremony too.

As an aside I didn’t realise that womens swimming was only added as an Olympic event in 1912? Plus women had to wear a modesty panel despite the fact the suits were long and made of wool. It wasn’t until 1973 that the modesty panel was eliminated. Crazy!. Men, however did not have modesty panels. For competitive swimming non textile suits were outlawed in 2010 and the amount of coverage was limited to between the waist and knees for men and not past the shoulders or knees for women. That’s why the racerback is so popular for female swimmers.
As a result swimming doesn’t offer much in terms of team uniforms for most countries, rather, team identification is limited to swim caps during actual races.

I digress, moving on..

What pattern(s) did you use, or is your entry self-drafted or draped?

Swimming costume Jalie 3134
We start with a happy tale of a new love discovered. You may recall my self imposed criteria had been to make things I would wear and use only stash items. I broke my word. Jalie 3134 – the racerback Swimsuit. I dare anyone to say racerback without getting a little frisson of excitement☺ . So what’s the fuss about? Well this pattern comes in 27 sizes for girls, women and plus sizes! I am covered for my little girls and for the future as I grow older, wider, wiser? Win/Win. Coupled with a figure-flattering contrast inset of course I snapped it up.

Thanks in part to its excellent sizing I made it without a muslin because lycra spandex fabric is so expensive. It receives further great review for the excellent instructions. I think sewing swimwear will have an enduring appeal (with five little people who do swimming there is plenty of scope).

I love this swimsuit because it fits all the criteria for competitive swimming:
»Its snug just like a competitive suit should be.
»Provides good backside coverage.
»Women’s competition suits do not include any kind of bra or bust support. A tight fit across the chest creates a more streamlined silhouette , reducing drag and increasing glide times.
»Suits for competition are not lined, since reducing drag is a priority. I have lined the crotch area on mine. Though a suit with lining will generally last longer, and hold its shape and colour better than an unlined suit I did not have lining fabric and the scrap I used was from my old swimming costume.
»Its one-piece, with moderately cut leg openings, fairly high neck and a racer style back which has a secure fit and freedom of movement

Tracksuit Jacket Mccalls M7026
This is a semi-fitted unlined jacket with yokes, princess seams, side seam pockets and exposed front separating zipper. Its cute and have had this for ages in my stash. Pleased to get it out I cut a straight size 12 and it fit right out of the packet! Initially I put in pockets but they were too shallow and were gapey so I removed them.

Making it was very straight forward. I made yellow piping for the seams. The lining inner section was made up first – my rationale was that any fit issues would be revealed in the lining and I could fix for outer shell. I was surprised at how quickly and easily it came together.

I love the back yoke detail and this pattern will get more makes from me.

Tracksuit Shorts Part self drafted/Part Simplicity 1112
Based on Simplicity 1112 jumpsuit that I drafted a waistband and hip pockets for. The bottoms became shorts due to lack of fabric. Decided that if they were going to be shorts I will add a retro – y feel by curving the hem slightly. I didn’t add piping because for me the focus of this ensemble is the jacket.

What sewing techniques did you use to achieve your goal?

Jalie 3134:
Working with spandex fabric meant using stretch needle in sewing machine for zigzag topstitching and 4 thread serger for seams. I had to use swimwear elastic on openings. Stretching the elastic correctly was tricky – especially for leg openings. The amount of tension at the front of leg opening is not the same as at the back, which makes sense because the booty to keep covered.

McCalls M7026 jacket
Ooodles of piped seams in a contrasting yellow colour. It can totally work for opening ceremony. I thought to myself if I were designing for an Olympic team who are travelling long haul to get to places why not reduce their luggage by designing something multi-functional. The jacket is reversible. I cannot stress enough how comfortable it is. It’s a quilted synthetic fabric. Very light weight but holds a seam well.

Shorts Simplicity 1112/self drafted
The shorts are reversible as well with a cotton yellow lining. The hip pockets were drafted on the trouser part of Simplicity 1112 jumpsuit. I added a simple foldover waistband that would encase a 1″ elastic. They sit below the waist. The lining is 100% cotton which I sewed up and basted to the shell wrong sides facing at waist before attaching the waistband. They were fast and quick to make.

What particular features would you like to point out to the judges?
The tracksuit is reversible so there are many different combos that can be achieved. Who says athletes cant be stylish, eh?

What was your inspiration for your entry?
To be perfectly honest my inspiration came from the fabric .A combination of 3 circumstances led to this outfit
1. I did not have any fabric in my stash for sportswear. I wanted to make something I hadn’t made before. So I had decided straight way that I would make something sporty. I needed to replace my 8 year old saggy swimsuit (bought when I was pregnant so its bigger now ick)! Initially I was just going to do a swimsuit as I really really did not want to spend any more money: the lycra fabric was pricey at £7/m plus swimwear elastic cost £4. But then I realised a swimmer doesn’t just rock up in their swimsuit they need a tracksuit! With only 2 hours to spare for fabric shopping I stumbled upon this quilted poly fabric at £5/m I bought 2 m. Unfortunately I underestimated how much would be required for trouser length so I went with shorts instead.
2. Swimwear fabric available at my local shops was only in very lurid neon coloursapart from black, white and emerald green. Didn’t like the idea of a white swimsuit so black it was with a green contrast. There was no yellow.
3. Going through my stash I found the green jersey and yellow cotton fabric.

So I landed on Jamaica. It’s a place I’d love to visit someday and well Usain Bolt seems like a really cool guy.

Any other details that you want to share about your Olympic outfit or your process in creating the outfit?
My separating zipper was too long so I had to shorten it using some pliers. Lucky though it was a nylon zipper it still had metal stoppers.

Figuring out the order of construction for making the jacket reversible was great fun. I ended up doing zip edges then sleeve hems followed by neck edge and finally one side of hem to 10cms from CB then pulled it all out and and voila!.

The hood was frustrating because after I made it and tried it on it was clear that it would not be a snug fit!! But with no fabric I couldn’t redraft. For future I will draft a 3 piece hood that has a better fit not this cone-y look I have going. But I still rock it 😎😎.

I have discovered sewing without pins! The fabric for the outer shell of the tracksuit doesn’t like being poked around you can see little hole afterwards so I had to get on without pins and I was so surprised at how well everything was lining up even on the princess seams that are curved. It meant my sewing was a whole lot faster too!

Indicate here that you included the required photographs. Remember that the Front and Back photographs must be on a live person (the head can be omitted / obscured if desired):

1. Front [Required]:Yes

2. Back [Required]:Yes

3. Inside detail [Required]:Yes

4. [Optional]:Yes

5. [Optional]:Yes

In truth this hasn’t been my favourite round because I had to buy fabric to make something sporty and stretch myself. Making it to the final has been very surreal. I already feel like a winner. I now know with full certainty that I can make anything I want and make it in 10 days if I want to. That’s powerful!

I had a limiting belief. The belief was that I cant sew as many things I want to the high quality because I don’t have enough time. This limiting belief has been preventing me from seeing opportunities and from even trying at all. Now I can : There is always a way if I’m committed. But best of all these last 6 weeks have taught me that if I’m confused, I’m about to learn something. So thanks PR! I have already won! (although it would be pretty sweet to actually win a physical thing that isn’t a grand mind altering epiphany .

Thanks for reading!
Mucho ♥♥♥♥


And here are the pictures….

Full Track suit Jalie 3134 Reverse of tracksuit Run Run! Swim SwimSewing Bee Round 4 086Sewing Bee Round 4 099

I absolutely had a great time but there has been a rather unfortunate side effect of all the focused sewing is that my sewjo has gone. I have no desire to sew at the moment. I am not too worried though – it will come back when its ready. In the meantime I am using this time to get our house Christmas ready as we will be hosting it and are going to have a few house guests.

Baking has also been taking up a lot of my time. So far this past week I have made an Apple Crumble Cake, Apple Tarte au tatin(we have 4 apple trees so a glut of apples atm), the christmas pudding, a New York cheesecake and a Victoria sponge. The family isn’t complaining :-).

Thanks for stopping by my little section of the interwebs.

Happy Sewing!



I made it to the Final!

Hello chums!

Shortest post ever:

Wohoo!!!!! I made it to the final!

Wait. They want me to what?…..



For Round 4 of the 2015 Sewing Bee, you must design and sew a contestant outfit for either the opening ceremony of or a specific sport competition in the Olympics. You can select any country to use as your inspiration. Although 2016 is a Summer Olympics year, you can use either the summer or the Winter Olympics. You will have 10 days to cut, sew, and photograph your outfit and submit a review into the contest with the required photos.

Mmmmm I need to spend really think about this one……………………………….any ideas anyone?

As always thanks for stopping by!

Happy Sewing!




Vogue 8601- tailored jacket and graduating…

Hello chums!

How are you? I am am doing well thanks! Especially now that I have completed a colossal task of making a tailored jacket in 10 days. Finished on Sunday afternoon just in time for a photo session in the gorgeous Indian summer we have been having here in the North of England.

Here is my review for the competition. Its very much abridged as I didnt want to sound like a windbag. Could easily do 7 separate posts on how this jacket was made. The feeling of elation after I snipped that last thread was palpable – I did a fist pump and went off to take pictures straight away. My eyes are very very tired from all the consecutive late nights pulled to get this done. Between my work and the kids hectic schedules I was only able to sew properly after 9pm. So of course there are loads and loads of pictures and even a super special one right at the end if you manage to get there :-).

What pattern did you use? (Please include brand and pattern name / number if applicable.) Is it new to you, a tried and true, self drafted or a combination of patterns?

I chose Vogue 8601 – A basic design pattern. New to me so I cut a size 12 as per measurement chart. Its got a sweet urban equestrian look that attracted me.

What fabric did you use for the jacket exterior and lining.
I finally bought a spectacular and long hoarded piece of wool out of storage. I bought it over a year ago after I had looked at it for a long time before buying, not knowing if I could do it justice. It screams British heritage with its orange, mustard, beige and navy blue check. I’ve never sewn with anything like this before and really didn’t have any idea where to start. Pushing past initial hesitation I took the plunge and chucked it onto the dryer with a couple of damp towels to preshrink it. I absolutely loved working with this wool. it was stable and thick enough to manipulate easily but soft and light enough to make the darts and seams almost invisible.

Used a high quality anti-static synthetic fabric made of 75% Triacetate and 25% Polyamide, dont know what the name for it is but it has a great handle and is soft to touch, breathable. A lot nicer than the cheap linings I have used in the past. More expensive (though cheaper than silk charmeuse) but worth every penny. I found it easy to sew (not too slippery) and it didn’t disintegrate the moment I cut into it. It feels nice against the skin and the colour is so pretty and vivid.

Are you experienced at sewing jackets or was this a terrifying first?
Initially I thought that sewing a peacoat for my husband last year meant I had oodles of experience. But in comparison that was just a coat with interfaced fronts and shoulder pads. This was my first tailored jacket in that sense.

Describe your sewing journey with this jacket.
My starting point was making the size 12 muslin as is. I knew that for the initial shape of the jacket I wanted a sleek silhouette. I removed 1/2″ swayback to get the fit on the bodice. Since my fabric was a check and I was anticipating problems with pattern matching I eliminated the center back seam and cut on fold. I sacrificed a really snug fit at the back for easier matching – a worthy sacrifice.

I didnt like the split coat tails. Once removed I decided to add a 1″ extension from the waist down by pivoting out the second smaller dart, which gave it the flair I wanted but still kept the drama at a fairly subtle level.

The sleeves were too long with too much ease. I drafted a two piece sleeve with vent sloper using Suzy Furrer’s excellent pattern drafting book after faffing around; I have learnt the hard way that a two piece sleeve cannot be made just by cutting the existing one piece into 2 then adding seam allowances . Kept increasing the seam allowances until I got the slim fit I wanted. Next was adjusting the armhole to fit the new sleeve cap. The result is my shoulder has never looked so good.

The pattern doesn’t have a back facing so I drafted one and also had to draft a lining piece with an ease pleat for wearing. My lifestyle means I move my arms around a lot bending over lifting my little ones. My store bought jackets all have linings that have pulled open at the seams so I knew I needed to have a lot more wearing ease in the back lining.

After those changes, I still felt something was missing and to zhoosh it up I added angled welt pockets. I was happy. In total I made 3 muslins by Sunday night.

Then after all that prep, it was time for the star of the show…my simply gorgeous check plaid. Despair set in at realising I had to cut into it. I haven’t had to match plaids like this before. I added seam allowance lines on pattern pieces to see where the cutting line would be and plunged. This part took me 4 hours from start to finish, accompanied with a lot of swearing and “I hate plaid! Never again!” In retrospect I don’t know where I got the strength and temerity to keep going. Just the memory of that night makes me feel exhausted. I didn’t do too bad though – it’s pretty good I think. There are areas where I couldn’t line things up enough, the curves and angle of the design made things difficult to keep in orderly neat lines in places, so I just picked the most obvious horizontal match lines and left it at that…Lucky this was a balanced check (I think) otherwise it would have taken even longer.

Interfacing Each piece has some interfacing on it. The back peces were doubly interfaced on the upper areas with bias strips on the edges. Cutting out the bias strip and fusing them was a nightmare that took up a whole day. This was time I had not budgeted thus I fell behind my schedule of finishing on Saturday. The sleeves, upper and under collar were interfaced with knit tricot interfacing which created a very interesting spongy scuba like texture on wrong side. Pocket flaps were double interfaced using heavy weight. When I ran out of heavyweight I just used 2 of medium weight.

Pressing the seams open also took a lot longer than I thought. How many times did I refill the water in my iron? A lot more than I can count.My ironing board is wonky now from all the pressing using my clapper which by the way is the MVP during this jacket.

Welt pocket into the waist seam. Eeek! This was scary. I did it and tbh the first one wasn’t all that great but the second was pretty much perfect. However when I added the welt pocket with flap to the design I forgot that my hem would be cut away at an angle which meant the pocket bag was sticking out significantly. I had to reduce it in size so it wouldn’t interfere with the hem; leading to a pocket I can hardly fit half my hand into SO the second one didn’t get a pocket bag just an ornamental pocket. The welt opens to a face backing.

I added a repurposed horsehair canvas as a shoulder plate as well.The shoulders were padded quite significantly in order to both support all that structured wool and balance the large (ish) peplum at the bottom. I carefully added a layer of fleece to pad up the shoulder pad and that helped to keep the line smooth and subtle..

Because the hem is curved I chose to use a make a faced hem to help weigh down the jacket. As well as small upholstery weights in the hem at the center back to keep the jacket pulling down nicely and a 3″ double layer of medium weight interfacing fused directly above the hem for a crisp hem. Oh and the hem facing pieces were interfaced twice using lightweight interfacing. I didnt want the hem to easily loose shape from being sat on IYSWIM.

The last thing that went in were the mock suede elbow patches which were a last minute addition. Sewn on blanket stitch style.

Did you use any interesting techniques?
Piped seams on the edges connecting the lining to the facing of the jacket. Used a floral bias tape to make for a cute contrast.

Setting the under collar by giving a steam bath. Ok this was the most fun – after interfacing with knit tricot I cut out a lower curved heavy weight interfacing to fuse to the the part where the collar would stand. Didn’t seem strong enough so I added another layer of medium weight and the stand seemed strong enough. They were sewn together. pressed the heck out of the seam then wrapped and pinned around mt tailors ham for a long steam bath during which it was blasted with a lot of steam. 24 hours later a beautifully shaped undercollar with a perfect roll. My spirits soared for at least two days until darkness fell when I realised that I had made the collar upside down !!I had to go lie down with a head compress. Restarted the whole process but without the time to do a steam bath. The second one sufficed But my collar would have been better lol.

Mitering a sleeve vent. I had fun with this again. Since this was a fake vent it needed a mitred corner. Again there was a lot of interfacaing on the sleeve hem and along the vent so that when folded it would a crisp neat finish. It felt a little bit like origami folding but easy with an online tutorial.
I loved catch stitching. Its a sing song way of stitching and my best memories of making this jacket revolve around catchstithing

What are you most proud of about this jacket?
1. Not giving up. There were moments where my spirits soared and moments when I retired to bad late at night vowing I am dropping out. Each morning I woke up with a renewed vigour. The reality is that my sewing journey (especially as a sewing blogger) is fraught with emotional land mines; dealing with the blogging process, reading my posts, settling on just the right idea for that next project. That can make me feel insecure and like a fraud.
I can’t sew! I have everyone fooled. I am an imposter. What made me think I could enter this with less than 2 years of sewing under my belt?
There are moments when I’ve been sure that everything I’ve made and written is garbage and I’m terrified I’m going to be found out. There are also some moments of loving my project. I think this is all a normal part of putting oneself out there on the interwebs.
But that insecurity is good because it’s that very insecurity that drives me to keep growing, keep learning, to be the best I can be.It’s part of the larger process of growing and developing not just as as a sewer but as as a person; it is not a question of “arriving” but more a discipline of figuring out how to keep going especially when I am feeling hateful towards my WIP or when things are going wrong.

2. ResourcefulnessThe only thing I bought were the buttons. Everything else came from stash or was re-purposed right down to horse hair canvas harvested from an old jacket that was in the kids fancy dress box, the shoulder pads from my old unworn jacket ( the pads were easy get to because the lining was ripped) I needed a chisel to slice open the button holes because of the thickness so I just borrowed chisels from the hubs’ shed. Using scraps of polar fleece for sleeve heads. Doubling up on interfacing to create the right weight instead of buying more.

3. I’ve learnt so much about foundations, structure, stability and manipulation that its been worth every minute. I am most proud of how it looks between the face fabric and the lining. The insides look like a hot mess; there’s a certain intimacy I have with it …like know its wearing naughty knickers inside ..but only I know that .

Why should YOU go on to the final round?
I frequently thought about how to answer this question. It turns out making it to Round 3 didnt automatically fill me with self-confidence and unending affection for my creations.
You have given me a sense of my own creative resourcefulness. Surprisingly the time constraint has allowed my creativity to thrive. The Sewing bee has provided a focus and a framework for it to flourish; the limits and obstacles spark my imagination. I have abilities in me that I didn’t even know I had. I’d love to go to the next round and see what other myths I will debunk about myself.
I have debunked the myth that I cant use super precious stash fabric so that means that I am finally unleashed on all sorts of amazingly gorgeous beautiful fabrics that I would use for Round 4!

Oodles of smug pics!deets Collage Interior Collage Jacket collage Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 105 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 108 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 138 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 151 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 153 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 177 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 180 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 205 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 206 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 214 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 218 Late Summer & Mamas Jacket 223 me collage v8601 2 collage v8601 collage

The entries were quite stellar so I will not be bummed if I don’t get to the final. I am incredibly beyond proud of this jacket. Needless to say after all this work I feel that I can move from advanced beginner to Intermediate sewer! I hereby confer my own graduation :-). Do you have a project that made you realise you have leveled up?

Oh and here is my picture of my sewing cave as is…I haven’t been able to go in there (neither have I wanted to) since Sunday afternoon. Puts me to shame doesn’t it? And this is the most flattering angle…2015-10-05 16.17.15


Happy sewing everyone!



Lined jacket progress…plus tidbits

Hello all,


Not much time for a lengthy post. Pictures of my progress thus far. Trying out mesh on a slide show!



In other news I won 2meters of Nani Iro fabric on IG from Mrs Matatabi on Etsy! That was about 4 weeks ago. 2015-09-05 11.23.03

And yesterday got an email to say I had won 2 Grainline patterns of my choice! I have had my eye on Moss mini and Archer button up for a long time so yeahy!

Must dash, lining and stuff to do.

Happy Sewing!