Patchwork progress…

In February OH and I booked a long weekend in Cornwall for the summer, one of the objectives being for me to stop off for a visit to Truro Fabrics. I saved up for the visit and was pleased to get to the till with my haul, just inside my budget I hoped.


Some maroon loop backed sweat shirting, some random print jersey for a Lady Skater dress, spotty denim, grey double voile cheesecloth, oatmeal jersey, some GORGEOUS heavyweight checked linen and some bits and bobs. Just then OH returned from being outside, presumably to tell me hurry up and said he would pay for the lot. Thank you very much !!

In previous posts I have been using up scraps making a patchwork bedcover, according to the pattern I had finished making it as it is an unquilted item, but I have had a couple of comments to say it will look lovely when its finished (what do you mean it will look lovely when its finished !? It IS finished)

Anyway I have just been on a one day patchwork course at the local adult education centre and as part of that there was a brief demonstration of ‘free motion quilting’ which I had never heard of before. The instructor said that only way to be able to do it was to practice a lot and showed us some essential patchwork feet for sewing machines.

Having not spent my intended fabric budget I rather rashly invested in a free motion foot for my machine and realising that people might be thinking my bedcover is not finished because its not quilted I started to practice on that. This is definitely a case of ‘ignorance is bliss’. My very random bed cover is now in the process of becoming a quilting sampler, but oh my word its such fun.

I have realised that I am completely insane for starting to practice this new skill on such a huge item and the work is really very physical but incredibly involving. It doesn’t matter at all to me that its all wonky and am enjoying the process immensely.

Here are some of my quilting experiments

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IMG_7880   IMG_7882  IMG_7902   IMG_7896

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Its going to take ages to do the whole cover, by which time my I hope technique might have improved a bit.


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The week I tried patchwork

I love reading other people’s blog posts and a few weeks ago I came across this post from mensew with this really sweet patchwork quilt he has made for a nephew.

I really like the look of patchwork and inspired by this post and by the ever mounting bin bags and laundry baskets of leftover scraps from various dressmaking projects I decided to have a go myself. I bought an instruction book from a local shop, the selling point being that it claimed to be ‘…for the complete beginner’.



The book advises that the beginner should start with a small project such as a lavender ball, but looking at my vast pile of offcuts I knew I would have to go for something a bit bigger. I therefore chose the last project in the book, a double bedcover. The individual patches are large varying from 13cm square to 33cm  square which I knew would make more inroads to my leftovers. These are the templates I made from a cardboard box.


It took two whole days to go through and iron all the pieces and assemble the necessary piles of patches, but eventually I ended up with the right number of squares and rectangles and was able to start sewing (having reduced my scrap mountain to one bulging bin bag of pieces all less that 5″ x 5″).



The project caused a lot of hilarity among the ladies on my pattern cutting course who also do quilting….’You’re making a what…?…’ ‘Are you sure …..?’ ‘HOW big….?’

Undeterred, I started anyway. The instructions in the book are really clear and although you are supposed to develop techniques by working your way through the projects in the book from the lavender ball to the bed cover it’s still easy enough to go backwards and forwards to refer to the bits you need.

Blocks began to appear…..the corners were in the right places and I was beginning to feel quite pleased with myself.


Then came joining the blocks together, and before I knew it I had enough for my hallway, or a single bed !


Another day’s work and it was too big for the hall so here is my double bed cover in the garden, it measures 240cm x 180cm.


I think it’s lovely ! The beginning of the book advises choosing a base fabric with at least six colours and picking fabrics of those six colours to complete the rest of the cover. As you can see I’ve obviously had a theme going on for the last few years as these random scraps are all from the same colour palette although once I had started sewing I deliberately removed all my blue pieces. I am slightly disturbed by the two pickle jar pieces next to each other on different grains and may remove one of them.

Anyway I am very excited by progress so far. I know the difficult bit is going to be putting a back on it but I WILL get there ! I might even get the opportunity to use the quilting table attachment which came with my sewing machine but which is still in its box and being used as a footrest.

I have also signed up for a patchwork course at the local adult education centre so maybe they will give me some pointers…. I may be some time……..



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1940’s Wrap dress

10 years ago this year, the year my fourth and last child started secondary school, I first attended our local adult education centre in order to learn how to play Bridge.

It is now the 10th anniversary of meeting some very dear friends and the start of our Bridge journey together.

We decided to mark the occasion by going for afternoon tea together.


..and I made the Sew Over It 1940’s Wrap Dress to wear for the occasionVersion 2

The body is made from a rust coloured lightweight knit and the collar and waistband are made from a wool challis dress that I made in the 1980’s and can no longer fit into (by a long way !!) but  I still adore the fabric and have been pleased to repurpose it. I’m afraid we were too busy chatting to have any pictures of me actually wearing the dress but it was just right for the occasion.

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Beryl Bomber dress


I don’t know where I first saw the Beryl Bomber dress from Named clothing. But it was really bugging me and I knew that sooner or later I would have to make it. So I bought the pattern and I’ve had it hanging around for a while waiting for the right moment. I was having a sort out of my fabrics and I came across this Japanese print fabric from Dragonfly fabrics which I bought last September with the intention of using it for my Tello jacket, and intention which got superseded.

But this blue checked fabric looked as if it would work for the Beryl and I do feel guilty if I have fabrics hanging around for ages, especially if they have been pushed aside for a new shiny thing…

The only problem being that the back sleeve and shoulder is all cut in one and the fabric wasn’t quite wide enough to fit it on so I have had to cut that portion on the bias, however it looks really nice and the structure of the fabric means it hasn’t stretched being used in this direction either


Look at that cute little loop centre back !


The pattern calls for folded over stretch ribbing for the collar but I have used this single fold wide rib cuff Albstoffe ‘Cuff me’ cuffs  instead which I have also used for the cuffs. The pattern calls for the cuffs to be elasticated in self fabric but instead I have gathered the sleeve and attached the same cuffing as the collar.


It’s got external patch pockets with a slanted opening which are a good size.

The elastic for the waist is enclosed in ribbon as per the instructions which gives a very nice internal finish.


I also read somewhere about trying to use organic materials for sewing so also tested  this Organic cotton thread. for this project. It was great, no breaks or tangles and I will be using it again in future.

I found this dress quite a challenging make but it has lots of interesting details and is very comfortable to wear.



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Relaxing Sewcation week…..Hmmm

It’s been a bit of a stressful time here since the beginning of the year for various reasons so I decided some time ago to take week commencing 23rd April as a sewcation week and just hunker down at home and focus on a few projects from my queue, as sewing is always my best de-stress mechanism.

My first project was McCalls 7392, a straightforward looking useful skirt which I thought I could make in a day.


…and I would have made it in a day had not OH unexpectedly asked me to accompany him on a hospital visit prior to him starting a course of radiotherapy. Well that was fine I didn’t mind giving up an afternoon…

So on Tuesday morning I had nearly finished off the skirt when OH came home from work pouring blood from a tooth extraction he’d had the previous week and which he’d disturbed by an ill advised lunch choice. A few telephone calls later and back to the hospital we went for 5 hours in A+E and surgical repair.

The skirt was finished in the evening with the addition of some nice Prym ‘anorak’ snaps.


On Wednesday OH had more hospital appointments and set off while I prepared my second project for the week, McCalls 7726, which is a trouser pattern I’ve had my eye on for a while. It all started off well until I got a call from OH to say that despite arriving in good time and having waited 40 minutes for a space he had been unable to park at the hospital and had missed his first appointment. Would I be able to meet him at his place of work and drive to the hospital to drop him off for rearranged appointments thus negating the need to park ? Well of course I could, but that was another half day gone picking him up and taking him there, then having to go back and collect him and drop him off  at work again, and as I was now hurrying to catch up with my plans I made a mistake and in overlocking my pocket seam failed to notice I had made a big hole on the front of my trouser leg.


Fortunately I had plenty of fabric and was able to cut another leg and start again but more time lost…


I was really please with the end trousers though. Made of THE most gorgeous wool crepe from Fabworks .

Then OH returned from hospital and said could I please make him a front opening gown for his radiotherapy. Of course I could. So Thursday’s project went out of the window in favour of making a front fastening hospital gown. Which he was suitably happy with. Luckily, in anticipation of having to make him some pyjamas I had some suitable lightweight cotton flannel in my stash.


..and then…No2, who we see very rarely, decided that he would pay a surprise visit to us, lovely ! But Thursday afternoon gone.

Fridays project was the Sew Over It Zoe dress which is possibly the only pattern I have ever made that I’ve bought fabric specifically for. Usually I buy fabric because I love it and then decide what to make afterwards. The fabric in this case being an african wax fabric in some of my favourite colours. This is a great pattern which fit me well straight off and had lovely pockets hidden in the front seams.


On Friday I had no interruptions but felt really frazzled by the whole week. It was not the relaxing escape I had envisaged and by the end of the week I felt quite down, both from not having achieved all my aims and also being worried about OH. But actually in retrospect I made one skirt, one pair of trousers, one robe and one dress which is not bad given the circumstances.

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Tilly and the Buttons Coco top – just

I’m slowly working my way through the stash I purchased at the Knitting and stitching show in March and one thing I needed to use was the Tilly and the Buttons Coco top pattern that I was persuaded to buy along with my Fifi pyjamas pattern.

I didn’t have any fabric in mind when I bought the pattern but watching blogs one evening I saw Cheryl from Stitchy Bee extolling the virtues of of of her new jersey fabrics and it was love at first sight. I checked the pattern and saw that I needed 1.8 metres so I ordered two in the yellow colour way from the Stitchy Bee website.

The next day the fabric arrived in a beautiful pink flowered postal bag and I rather stupidly didn’t open it there and then. When I did open it several days later I was a bit surprised to see a very small piece of fabric. I checked my order and DOH ! I had ordered two half metres (=1 metre). I immediately went back to the website but unfortunately the fabric was now sold out. I then had in mind to make a camisole top but the Coco pattern was still calling to me. I decided to get the pattern out and see what I could fit onto my metre of fabric as the fabric layout on the pattern looks very wasteful.

It NEARLY fitted, so VERY NEARLY but not quite….so I have done a naughty thing. There was enough fabric for all the pieces except the underarm of one sleeve so I have pieced it. I reckon that unless I have my arms up over my head and someone actually has their nose in my armpit no-one will ever know. All pieces are cut properly in the right direction on the grain.

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This is my finished top. I see I need to adjust the cuff fold but apart from that I’m very pleased with it. It fits beautifully, the fabric is gorgeously soft, my overlocker behaved, and even the twin needle managed to do a whole round of the hem uninterrupted. So, the moral of the story is, it is perfectly possible to make the Coco top out of a single metre of fabric as long as you don’t mind a tiny gusset under one arm. I don’t and I feel rather smug !


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Victoria Blazer with silk from the orient.

I’ve the By Hand London Victoria Blazer on my ‘to make’ list for ages. I knew I wanted to make a brown linen version but had found difficulty sourcing the right kind of brown linen until I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at the beginning of March. I finally found what I wanted on the Higgs and Higgs stand. I had some brown striped seersucker that I WAS going to use to line it but then OH and I watched this series of programmes about Craftsmen working on the ‘Silk Road’

The one about the Weaver particularly caught my attention as I had never heard of Atlas silk before. After the programme I googled ‘Atlas Silk’ and several items showed as being for sale on Etsy . I’m not too keen on the modern wavy patterns but was rather taken with an antique stripy one which, it being late at night, I ordered from a seller in Uzbekistan (I’ll buy anything after 11pm. If you want to sell me something the early morning email’s a no-no they just get deleted straight away. Send me one after 10pm and you’ll likely be successful !)

Two weeks later a thrilling looking parcel turned up. When was the last time you received a brown paper parcel with exotic writing tied with string and sealing wax ?

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The silk inside was definitely not from a smoke and pet free home. It smelt very strongly of wood or cigar smoke and has lots of tiny pulls in it, the sort one of my cats might make. But the colours were lovely. A gentle wash got rid of the smell and the colours stayed fast. The silk is a medium/heavyweight twill, very narrow at 78cm cm wide but that is to be expected from a hand loomed item. It was enough to line my blazer which is the important thing.

So this week I made my blazer.

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I did have an issue with the lower part of the lapels as they sort of flapped about. The advice on the pattern is to put a couple of stitches at the tips of the lapels but that made them look worse. I should have done more research before I started as when I looked at lots of versions on Pinterest closely they all have the flappy lapels. I didn’t like them so I have topstitched them down and left the upper lapels which I am happier with.

I LOVE the cuffs (but not quite as much as I love the lining)


and overall I’m happy with the blazer



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So, at the Knitting and Stitching show with my friend Ruth, standing in a queue at the Doughty’s stand, a lady near the front of the queue pulled out a roll of fabric, shrieked ‘SNAKES’ and shoved the roll back in. Intrigued, when I got to where she had been standing I pulled out the roll and found this…never mind the snakes, look at the beautiful beetles ! Love at first sight.


Earlier in the show I had bought the Tilly and the Buttons Fifi pyjamas pattern and decided to make them out of this fabric. I cut out most of the pyjamas although I decided that the ‘shorty’ bottoms on the pattern were just TOO short for me and lengthened them to a ‘pirate’ length . Then I faced a slight dilemma. If I cut the bias strips out of the fabric as instructed in the pattern there wouldn’t be enough fabric left for anything else but if I used bias binding there would be…I ordered some bias binding from Minerva crafts. Unfortunately when it arrived I didn’t like it but discovered some in a drawer that I liked much better !



The pattern is really clear and easy to follow. All the seams are French seams so the insides look really nice. The only problem I encountered was this….the bobbin thread running out with about 5 stitches to go….so irritating !


Me in my pyjamas.



With the remaining metre of fabric plus the offcuts from the pyjamas I reckoned I would have just enough fabric to make view A from McCalls 7360, a TNT pattern.

I theory I DID have enough fabric but when I laid the pattern pieces out I became aware that I would have to think about pattern placement and pattern matching, especially as I wanted to make sure that the beetles were prominently placed so it was very squeaky fabric wise but I succeeded and I love my little shirt. I couldn’t find any buttons I liked that didn’t detract from the print, so I have used dark grey ‘color snaps’ instead.


I’m especially pleased with the pattern matching I achieved on the pocket.


I have cut out all the beetles from the remaining scraps of fabric and shall be using them to decorate a cushion I think.

2.5m of fabric well used.


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As soon as I saw this pattern I knew I wanted to make it up in a double faced linen I had been eyeing up on the Merchant and Mills website for some time. When the fabric arrived it was lovely, a soft, loose weave linen just like in the picture. Being good,  I put it in the washing machine straight away, all on its own, 30C, gentle wash , line dried and it rewarded me by becoming as stiff as a board and all wonky grain wise. I had to dampen the fabric and pin it out as if I was blocking knitting to get it straight again, it was still really stiff though.

I hadn’t appreciated quite how linear the pattern on the fabric is and found it really hard to get the pattern to match on the pockets because despite the fabric being so stiff its a really loose weave and any handling pulled the weave out of alignment again. And it frays, very easily. In fact I would say that this linen is the most difficult fabric I have worked with, even worse that the viscose velvet and that’s saying a lot.

I couldn’t decide which face of the fabric I wanted to use for the large areas and which for the small so in the end I did the front and back in different colours, getting the best of both worlds.


By the time I started sewing I was getting the measure of the fabric and took great care with my pivot at the collar join which I am really pleased with.


I was also careful enough to get the armhole facing colours matching too…


The dress is fully lined with a chocolate brown silk crepe de chine which was a breeze to sew after the linen although it did take a few attempts to attach it properly at the neckline because with the collar in between the front and the lining it was really difficult to see what was happening where, but got there in the end.


I then left the dress to hang for 3 days before hemming which I did by making a bias strip and attaching that to the bottom hem to give extra weight.

The dress has turned out pretty much as I wanted, a crumpled look linen shift. The only thing that is annoying me is that despite my efforts to line up the weave on the pockets


The pockets seem to have ‘dropped’ leaving this bagging effect


Not quite sure what, if anything, to do about that.


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V8499 and my new gadget

This week I decided on a whim to sew V8499. I have been really interested in this pattern for ages but have never bitten the bullet to sew it up because it’s not the sort of thing I would normally wear. This week has been rather stressful for a variety of reasons and I needed to sew. I had a bit of fabric left over from my Tello jacket and fancied a bit more topstitching as there’s nothing like concentrating on it for making you forget whatever else is going on so I bit the bullet with V8499.


I went for view C as that would use up all my remaining fabric. There are described as very loose fitting and my goodness yes they are although I think with the flat front they don’t look as bulky as they could. After a happy day of topstitching I had the pair of trousers finished apart from the hems. They were SO wide though and I decided to gather the bottoms into a hem.


Having finished the trousers I have to say I absolutely LOVE them. BUT they are so far removed from what I would usually wear that I don’t know if would wear them to go about my daily business. This has led to some philosophical musings on why I sew and what I wear and why these trousers pose a difficulty for me and why I like them so much.


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I think I just need to man up and wear things that I love.

On another note, when my sewing machine broke in October and had to be sent for repair I was told off for not having it serviced regularly and to prove the point the repairers sent the machine back along with a ziplock bag containing all the stuff that they had extracted from my machine which contained various broken needle tips, the glass heads from some pins (I know, don’t judge !) and enough lint to stuff a very small cushion. Feeling abashed I have resolved to love my sewing machines more and to that end I have purchased a tiny vacuum cleaner for clearing out after each sew.

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It was not very expensive but was the most highly reviewed mini vacuum on Amazon. It charges up via USB and has a couple of nozzles, one with a brush and one narrow and rigid.

Bearing in mind that the machine was clean before I started this was the state of it after the V8499 project, and I had only used this particular machine for the topstitching.


After a minute of vacuuming we were back to this


and the filter on the vacuum cleaner looked like this


The device comes with a few filters so you can wash out the debris and use them again when dry. This is definitely a more efficient way of keeping the machines free from lint than the little brushes that come with a sewing machine so I hope it will help keep the machines happy and sewing well.





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Tello jacket

I first noticed The Tello jacket at the GBSB show last summer when I saw a sample on the Dragonfly fabrics stand. I bought the pattern and some blue and white japanese fabric to make the jacket the same as the sample.  I’ve never made it up and my colour palette for 2018 is very different. I’ve also been sewing with jersey a lot recently and wanted to sew something with a stable woven fabric, I wanted to have another go at a hong kong seam following my failure with the V9275 jacket. The Tello requires both a stable woven fabric and hong kong seams. Time to make it up.

I bought some denim described as ‘bronze’ from Guthrie and Ghani although I was very disappointed with the colour, no way would I call it ‘bronze’ it is more charcoal grey and caramel, but hey ho.

I’ve made one Pauline Alice pattern before and as before I am really impressed with the clarity of the instructions and accompanying construction diagrams.

Th very first thing to do is to make up the zipped chest pocket. The instructions tell you to cut out the pocket lining from folded fabric so you get a pocket lining and a mirror image but I would observe that if you want the lining fabric to show right side out on the inside of the jacket you need to cut out two pocket linings the same way. Unfortunately, having discovered this, I then didn’t have sufficient fabric to cut a third pocket lining so the one I have ended up with is pieced.


The hong kong seams were much more successful although having bought the required 9m of bias binding I then found it wasn’t quite enough and so the sleeves have a different colour binding to the rest of the garment.

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I really like doing top stitching and this was a perfect opportunity to practice my parallel stitching as I have never managed to get a twin needle to work.


My one slight regret is that I thought it would be a good idea to edge the buttonholes with the topstitching thread. I had a practice go with the topstitching thread on top and bottom but that was too bulky and kept getting tangled. Then I tried with the topstitching thread on the top and ordinary thread in the bobbin. That worked beautifully so off I set with the front of the jacket. I started at the bottom and achieved three lovely buttonholes but on the fourth everything went wrong. That middle buttonhole was sewn and unpicked five times (it would have to be the middle one !) before the sixth attempt was acceptable which was good job because the fabric was starting to suffer. Again the last and top two buttonholes took a couple of attempts each, the top one especially, where the reverse shows as you would never do it up is not brilliant but I don’t know how to make it better.

On the upside I LOVE my buttons which came from Backstitch I think they just soften the look of the jacket overall.


(That fabric is not bronze, no way)

Anyway, I’m quite happy with the finished jacket. It fits, and if the top buttonhole was better it would be pretty much perfect.


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V9275 – A comedy of errors

I had never heard of this pattern until I saw it on The Fold Line’s blog and I really like Kate’s finished garment. A long line bomber jacket, how perfect ! Then I saw Karen’s version and that clinched it. A must have.

I had been thinking about it for a couple of weeks when I came across this fabric from My

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It’s sweatshirt fabric with a bright geometric print on the outside and a long pile fleece interior. My idea was to make the jacket but to simplify it by not lining it and having the fleece side as the interior.  As it turns out this was a very BAD idea.

The fabric when it arrived was lovely, a bit thicker than I had anticipated but not a problem to use in an unlined garment. I cut out the pattern pieces a size smaller than normal as I had read from both Karen and Kate that the garment came up very large, and I also took 2.5cm off each shoulder. I attempted to match the pattern but it didn’t fit exactly across the pattern pieces ( I did my best), I also made facings for the fronts and back neck in lieu of the lining.

I made the pockets using two layers of the main fabric rather than one layer of fabric and one of lining, using the fleece sides inside the pockets for warmth


and attached them as instructed to the side seams. Due to the two layers of thick fabric the pockets then dragged downwards pulling the sides a bit out of shape. In order to resolve this I sewed the pockets carefully to the front piece to hold them up which worked well. It was the apparent that I would need to finish the edges of the fabric somehow as it was shedding fleece everywhere. My overlocker took violent exception to the fabric and jammed and shredded and made a horrible mess so I gave up with that and had the bright idea of doing Hong Kong seams…well that ended up looking like this…


absolutely awful, lumpy, bumpy and wiggly. I left the garment alone for a few days  and eventually realised that I could never live with a garment with such a horrible interior. I decided to line it after all. I’d sewn quite a lot of bias tape on by this time and my initial thought was to sacrifice my lovely fleecy interior on the altar of my own incompetence and line over the top of it, no one would ever know.

I ordered some chocolate brown stretch lining from Minerva crafts and stupidly didn’t check it when it arrived, when I unpacked it this is what I had purchased, a diaphanous lining that wouldn’t hide even a microscopic bit of orange bias tape.


So, there was nothing for it but to remove all the tape I had applied up to that point. It took AGES.


I then cut out the lining pieces and set about sewing in the shoulder darts, but no…my machine was having none of it. After a fruitless hour of trying different tensions, changing needles (stretch, ballpoint, fine, universal), stitch lengths, varying the presser foot pressure, nothing, not a stitch would stick.

By now I was beginning to have a sense of humour failure but every time I looked at the fabric I would love the pattern on it a little bit more and I hate admitting defeat.

I am making this jacket as part of #SWAP18 and I had also purchased a lot of oatmeal jersey for the same project which I decided to use as an alternative to the slippery brown stuff for a lining. This worked a lot better and I was even able to use my original facings.


it was incredibly difficult to sew bits of this as the two layers of fleece plus two layers of jersey were so thick that even my supposedly ‘heavy duty’ machine had trouble sewing the hem but I got it done in the end. I had finished. As I triumphantly tried on my garment I realised that I had twisted the left arm lining and sewn it in 360 degrees from where it should have been, aargh !. More unpicking but finally…finally…Success ! With the sweatshirting, the fleece and the jersey lining this is a very warm and snuggly garment. If it hadn’t been for the successive disasters with the interior this would have been quite a straightforward make but overall I’m pleased I persevered and I still love the pattern on this fabric.

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