The Pattern Project – Basic Blocks

I’ve done a bit of self-drafting including drafting and grading this simple tee which we use in our workshops. Made and modelled here by my friend and customer Emma 🙂

overlocked tee

I’ve added sleeves to it and made it up in sweat fabric which worked well and is something I wear quite regularly then more recently I made it up in a more slinky synthetic mix knit and added little cuffs to the sleeves. I lengthened the body and tapered the side seams in from the underarm to give it a relaxed casual fit.

But for the more structured styles we are planning to design patterns for I needed to make blocks. Blocks are a basic templates of the body with minimal ease from which a design idea can be developed into a pattern.

I started by making a fitted bodice block and straight skirt block.

It’s really taking me back to my uni days although we never learnt to make our own blocks at uni, we copied blocks given to us by our tutors, but I did have to learn how to make my own blocks in the third year as I did kidswear for my final project and there were no pre-drafted blocks available for my chosen age range. Back then I used a book to teach myself how to draft basic blocks. I’m using a combination of a Burda Style Accademy online course and Shoben Pattern Cutting Book I picked up from the Sew Essential bloggers meetup.

I’m using our own developed size specs as I talked about in the first post about the Pattern Project

I padded out the mannequin to make her the shape of our size 3 woman (about a size 12-14 on the high street) and also to fill in the side gaps in the adjustable mannequin – I find it really hard to fit the waist when there are gaps! I also made a jersey sleeve to go over the equine as this makes it much easier to pin the garment pieces to and gives definition to where the side seams are meant to sit.


I then used this to fit the mathematically drafted the bodice blocks. I had to make quite a few changes to both the bodice block and to the mannequin- mannequins have incredibly flat shoulders it turns out – not like real people – I checked on quite a few of both!

I then made up a second draft of the bodice based on the alterations I made…

This fits a lot better now although there are still some styling and fitting tweaks and a 3rd tiole and probably 4th toile will need to be made to iron these out. I’ll also fit both the bodice and the skirt on Freya and Bekki to see how they look on real people!

My first “BIG” quilt

I never saw myself as a quilter, I’ve always been drawn to dressmaking and homewares projects, but as we’ve been sourcing new fabric suppliers for the shop and started getting more and more lovely quilting cottons in I’m becoming hooked!

After making a few smaller sampler quilts and smaller quilted patchwork projects like cushions and tea cosies, I feel like I’m ready to go the next step. I am making my first “BIG” quilt. It’s only going to be a single size as I don’t want to set my self too big a project and loose interest and not finish it.

I’m using some of the gorgeous Dashwood studio fabrics we’ve just got in  mixed with other coordinating fabrics from the shop and also some recycled clothes and fabrics too.

I used the 1/2 square triangle block which our Crafty Sew&So quilting tutor Harriet taught us in the 6 week block sampler quilt course in our shop. I played around with the pieces after making lots of little 1/2 square triangle pieces and decided they look really fun as windmills. I’m really enjoying seeing this come together.

And I’ve really enjoyed the fact that I can pick this up whenever I feel like it or have free time. I can do 1 block in a spare 5 mins or settle down for an evening of patching.

quilt 2

I’ve pieced all the windmills now and just need to add sashing, wadding and backing then quilt it, trim it and bind it.

Ollie seems to like it already!


The finished quilt will go on the end of our bed and I’ve chosen lots of cat-friendly colours to hide the cat hair as that’s (one of the places) where Ollie likes to sleep. I’m planning to then make a couple of new duvets sets to go with it too. Maybe a new dressing gown too as really need one after mine got eaten by the washing machine!



April makes round up and my me made May pledge

I though I hadn’t made that much this month till I looked at my photos! Here’s my makes from April…

A cotton kimono using a Clothkits pattern.I added red fringe trim for an exotic finish- I’m still deciding whether to add some to the hem too.

A selection of fabric headbands- I’ll blog a tutorial in a few weeks for these. I made 2 for me and 1 each for Bekki and Freya, my Crafty Sew&So comrades!



A Mabel by Collete skirt – can’t wait for this to finish it’s turn in our shop window so I can wear it! it’s made using our stretch denim which is more of a knot construction than woven. I want to make a pair of jeggings from this.

A self drafted long sleeve version of my basic tee pattern- this is so comfy in acrylic jersey-this was great for a couple of weeks ago- bit warm for now as it’s 23 degrees c today!

A shirred sun dress- this is actually a sample for our class and I’ve made it a bit short so will either gift this to Freya or shorten it to a knee length for me- I just can’t do midi length even if it is fashionable! It’s made in viscose which I’m very glad I pre-washed as it shrunk about 10%.

My fave make of the month is this Mortmain by  Gather patterns. I swapped out the facings in favour of finishing the neckline and armholes with bias binding- on a closer fitting dress i find this gives a neater finish. I had to make a few changes to the fit at the waist but I love the finished result. The box pleats really bounce nicely in this fabric- as soon as I saw this I knew it had to be a pleated something! now I’m wondering how it would look as a Mabel pencil skirt…


Here it is in action at Cank Street cocktail bar out with the girls
mortmain in action

A super snugly Silly and the Buttons Coco jumper- this time with a cowl neck and a bit shorter as I only had 1 metre of fabric. I got the fabric, which is a cotton-poly mix brushed-back sweat, way back in September when Freya and I visited  Guthrie and Ghani in Birmingham, then lost it for a while! It’s so soft and warm with a pretty blue on white mini leaf print.

I made this pussy bow blouse from the free pattern in this months Love Sewing magazine. It’s too big really and the fit is not good- the shoulders are too wide and the sleeve head sits too far down the arm- on a tailored top like this it should be more set in and sit on the shoulder neatly. The bow is too short and too wide and the darts start too low in the side seam. I might re-set the sleeves and alter the neck tie… or I might write this one off and try the Sew Over It pussy bow blouse instead.

Now the sun has come out and I’m feeling the need to make some very quick summer wardrobe updates! I’m doing me may may for the first time this year and my pledge is to wear one item of handmade clothing or accessories every day through May and a full handmade outfit once a week. I’m posting my pics on Instagram and you can follow my #MMM16 here

Meeting the Midlands Sewcialists

Freya and I went to Birmingham last Tuesday to meet up with the Midlands Sewcialists, a group of sewing bloggers. The group is a mix of lovely ladies who blog and Instagram about what they make. 
We met for pizza at The Stable.   

  It was “Tuck in Tuesday” – pizza, half pint of cider (from a choice of about 50-honestly!) and a side salad. I went for the old spot trotter with bacon, mushroom and a whole egg in the middle, and a mango cider. It was delicious.    

 The lovely Charlotte of An English Girl At Home invited us when we met her at the Sew Essential meet up a few weeks ago. It was really great to meet up with a group of inspirational sewists and talk about their current projects, favourite makes and sewing adventures. 

Charlotte had recently been to New York and as well as going to pretty much every landmark and museum there she’d also met up with some sewing blogger friends and gone to the epic Mood Fabrics- a fabric warehouse which sounds like 3 floors of heaven- although she said it was so overwhelming she only bought 1m of fabric!  

It was interesting talking to everyone about when and how they fit sewing into their life. I’m alway very conscious of taking time out to do other things and also not bombarding Matt with sewing 24/7 so I asked Charlotte how her and her bf worked it in NY and she says that one of the other bloggers bfs was in town too so they found a bar with 120ish beers and got comfy! Sounds perfect!

I also met Bianca @baylore on Instagram. She makes clothes to wear for work after finding the office dress code in the UK to be a bit smarter than in Germany where she was working previously. She’s a serial top and dress maker with one of her favourite patterns being the Sew Over It pussy bow blouse. 


photo credit @baylore

And their vintage shirt dress- I really like this pattern and must try it soon!  

A couple of the other ladies were wearing Agnes by TATB tops in Art Gallery Fabrics jersey. This pattern looks so great in so many fabrics! 

I can’t wait to find my neck band which has gone astray and finish mine! 

It was a great evening meeting truly like minded ladies and I can’t wait for the next meet up! 

I gave out a few fliers for our Leicester social sewing evening Sew Sociable so hope to see a few sewing blogger friends again there. 

We’re also planning on showing reruns of the great British sewing bee in the shop on Friday nights from 20th May which should be a fun social event- more info is available on the Crafty Sew&So website