All posts by caroline

Different Stitches – Knitting a Cropped Cardigan

As I have not been able to spend as much time as I would like in the Sewing Room, I have instead been stitching of a different type.

I learnt to knit way back in the late 50’s when I wanted to make a bonnet for my new baby sister. I remember that the yarn was yellow and scratchy, the knitting needles plastic. Whatever happened to that bonnet I don’t know but it certainly never made it to adorn my sister’s head!

Inspired by Sian of Kittenish Behaviour, I wanted a short cropped-style cardigan to wear over my full-skirted dresses. Having made several Aran sweaters and cardigans over the years I enjoy any form of cable knitting.

King Cole 4071

This pattern combines the two requirements of length and interesting texture using my favourite Double Knitting yarn. The yarn that I used is Hayfield Bonus DK which is 100% acrylic, machine washable and can also be tumble dried. The washing instructions were important for me as using a Light Cream yarn I knew that the cardigan would show every little mark and I am rather a ‘dirty’ knitter!

I made the largest size which calls for 13 x 50 grm balls of yarn. I purchased 7 balls of 100 grms as the last thing I wanted was to run out of yarn. As it turned out there was no fear of that as I have 1½ balls of yarn leftover which I can use for another project.

The pattern is simple, based on a 4 row repeat for the back and sleeves, and an 8 row repeat for the two fronts (to include a simple cable). I knitted the back and fronts to the length dictated by the pattern and in hindsight the cardigan is a little longer than I would like. Next time I will shorten by 2 inches. The sleeve shaping was also simple being a raglan design – a favourite of mine as it makes the garment very easy to wear. I did notice that once again my arms are shorter than the standard measurement which meant that I did not knit all the additional rows on the sleeves once I had finished the increasing and just before Istarted decreasing for the raglan armhole.

All went well until I got to the part where you have to pick up and knit the rib that encircles the front edges and the hem of the bodice. Having first knitted the neckline ribbing, over 200 stitches for the hem band are picked up onto a circular needle from one of the fronts around to the centre back. The left side is just plain k1 x p1 rib and the right side has to incorporate the buttonholes. I have never knitted on a circular needle before and this was at times a frustrating experience. However, now it is done and I am fairly pleased with the result.

I am knitting the pattern again. This time I will make the back in a smaller size as the current version is too big across my back.

King Cole 4071 – Straight Edged version

To avoid all that circular knitting I have opted for the straight hem version. I have already purchased some Lavender-coloured yarn and have started knitting the fronts.
Once this version is complete I plan to go onto a much more challenging project which is knitted in 4-ply yarn and will involve a lot more concentration to get the pattern right!

The next challenge!

Simply Spot-on Paola Turtle Neck Tee

Paola Turtle Neck Tee
by Named Clothing

Regular readers will know that the Paola tee is one of my ‘all-time’ TNT tops which have been regularly hacked into many variations. For this iteration I wanted a plain and simple turtle neck tee to go under that ‘oh so subtle’ appliqué corduroy pinafore dress featured in an earlier post.

Colourful Appliqued Corduroy Pinafore Dress

I purchased 1 ½ metres of Pink spotted cotton jersey which is a new line offered at New Threads Quilt Shop, Weyhill Fairground, Andover. As soon as I got home the fabric was washed and hung over the airer to dry.

Meantime, I was distracted by making up the SORA top by Blank Slate Patterns and also completed another version of the Paola using Cloque jersey, neither of these garments was an unqualified success so it was with some trepidation that I cut out the Pink spots Paola.

SORA sweater
Hacked about Paola

I used my latest adapted version of the pattern for the bodice front and back. Bearing in mind my thickening mid-section, I ignored the waistline shaping and cut a straight line from under the arm to the hips. I extended the length of the bodice by 3 inches. Using the original sleeve pattern, I increased by 1 inch at the underarm seam, grading to 0 at the wrist. The length of the sleeved was reduced by 2 inches. The turtle neck collar was reduced in height by 1 inch but increased in width by 1 inch.

It took just over 1 hour to construct the tee which included drafting a pattern for a double cuff which does away with the need to twin-needle stitch the sleeve hems and provides(I think) a professional finish. The hem of the tee was turned up by ¾ inch and pressed with steam before top-stitching with a jersey twin needle.

Simply Spot On Paola Turtle Neck Tee

I am delighted with the fabric, fit and finish of this tee and can foresee that it will get a lot of wear both now and into cooler days of Spring. In fact, I am so pleased I may well re-visit New Threads as I know that they have this fabric in several other colourways.

Hacking the Paola tee

Those of you who follow my blog will know that the Paola top is one of my favourite TNT patterns. I have hacked it to within an inch of its life! Today I hacked again.

Paola Turtle Collar Tee from
Named Clothing

According to Named Clothing, the Paola is described thus:-

Classic semi-fitted turtle neck tee

Full-length sleeves and a turtle neck collar

Choose a light jersey with approximately 50% stretch. The sample is made up in a rayon blend jersey.

Mink Cloque Jersey from The Textile Centre

For this iteration I used yet more of the Cloque Jersey mentioned in the previous post. What I should have done before cutting out was to read the stretch requirements and check the Cloque fabric (it turns out that it does NOT have 50% stretch). If I had checked then I would have adapted the pattern and this garment would have been the original Paola turtle neck top. However, I did not do that!

I pulled my original adapted pattern (previously used for viscose/polyester blended jersey fabrics) and cut out the Cloque jersey.

I used clear elastic in the shoulder seams and set in the turtle (polo) collar. I then attached the sleeves and stitched the side and underarm sleeve seams.

First fitting – what was I thinking? The tee was so tight over my head that I was in danger of being strangled and the effort of pulling the collar over my head also pulled out my earrings! The sleeves were a little short so I decided to use the cuffs that were left over from the SORA top.

So an almost completed garment had to be altered. No way is that my favourite past time.

I removed the collar and re-cut the neckline, dropping the centre front by approximately 1inch. I made up a neckband that was 80% of the measured length (plus seam allowance) and attached to the neckline. It looked OK but not great. Next the sleeves – the cuffs were a lot smaller than the diameter of the hem of the sleeves. I re-stitched the underarm seam grading down to the same width as the cuffs. The cuffs were then folded in half and attached.

Second fitting – the neckline was still not good and now the sleeves were very tight. I cut off the neckband and re-cut the neckline AGAIN, this time dropping the centre front by approximately 1½ inches. The second neckband was attached and this time looked much better. I pin marked the point on the sleeves where they became uncomfortably tight. By laying the sleeves on top of one another I cut off the bottom and drafted a new cuff pattern. The pattern folded double and shaped so that it is wide enough to attach to the sleeve cut -off- point but narrows down to a snug fit at the wrist.

Long double thickness cuffs

Apart from top-stitching around the neckband the entire garment was constructed using the overlocker. Finally I pressed up the hem and stitched with my jersey twin needle on the sewing machine.

Basic hacked Paola tee

I am pleased that I now have a wearable tee although I know that it will never be a favourite. I have a good pair of Bright Terracotta Jeans and with changes to scarves I shall be able to wear the top in both Spring and Autumn.

Spring-time Scarf
Autumn Scarf

Sora Top by Blank Slate Patterns

Pattern illustration

I have had the pdf of this pattern for some time and was reminded of it when I saw another version(the cardigan) on someone’s instagram. I had recently purchased this lovely Pale Mocha-coloured cloque ponte roma from The Textile Centre at the bargain price of £1.79 per metre. Due to the very wide width of the fabric and by cutting the back with a centre back seam, this top took just 1.3 metres of fabric.

I checked my measurements against the size chart and cut a 1XL which should fit just right. Unfortunately, although the pattern pieces look large when laid out flat, they turned out to be just that little bit too small around my middle.

Side seam godet

I stitched the godets using the lightning stitch on my Brother 4000D sewing machine, but most of the construction was completed using my Juki overlocker. I used clear elastic to stabilise the shoulder seams before inserting the collar. This feature is what attracted me to the Sora design and I will be ‘hacking’ the collar onto an alternative top/tunic pattern in the future. In hindsight, I wish that I had top-stitched the edge of the collar and its facing but a good steam press means that it is sitting nicely.

The side seams were sewn and the sleeves inserted ‘in the round’. The Sora has a dropped shoulder and I should have known that I would not like this feature on me. My shoulder width is quite narrow in comparison to my bust and waist. In my eyes, the dropped shoulder just looks awkward especially when combined with these particular sleeves which turned out to be very slim (and LONG!). Was this pattern designed for Orangutan arms? I omitted the cuffs and have kept them back to put on the Paola top that is next in the queue. I turned up the sleeves and the hem of the top, giving them a good steam press to set the crease. Both were then top stitched with a jersey twin needle.

Sora by Blank Slate |Patterns
Back view with Centre Back Seam

I hope that I can sell the top on eBay so that it won’t then be a complete fail. I look forward to ‘hacking’ the collar design, and maybe the side hem godets, onto an alternative top pattern with a standard set in sleeve that is the correct length for me.

A change of plan

Annie Unrein Sew Sturdy Sewing Organiser Bag

I am greatly looking forward to a Sewing Retreat to be held at an Oxford hotel in March 2019. This will be my very first weekend retreat and as is my wont, I plan to have a matching set of sewing accessories.

The first and major item of the collection would be a Sew Sturdy Sewing Organiser Bag by Annie Unrein. I first discovered this great design on the Craftsy website a couple of years ago. A friend had already made one and was taking commissions for more. Maureen made two for me, one of which I gave to a.n.other friend as a birthday gift. Eventually I had to make my own which was completed over the period of 7-10 days and was given to yet another friend for Christmas in 2016.

Joan’s Sew Sturdy Organiser Bag

http://carouselcottagecrafts.com/category/bags/page/3/ for full description.

As I have not been as productive as I would like and have a long list of projects to be completed in a relatively short time, I asked Maureen if she would help by making up this latest bag. She swiftly agreed.

I found just the right cotton fabric print in my stash and using that combined with a metre of contrast fabric for the lining (purchased from New Threads Quilt Shop) and some Bosal ® made up the quilt ‘sandwiches’ that would be required. I cut the various pattern pieces and prepared the zips. Meantime, Maureen had prepared the vinyl for the internal pocket pages.

I handed over my contribution on Thursday morning and by Monday morning we met again and Maureen presented me with the completed bag. Apparently it had been finished by Friday evening! What a star she is.

Zip up vinyl pocket pages

Zip up mesh pocket on inside of outer bag case

So that’s the main item prepared and ready for the Sewing Retreat. Now I have to make a new dachshund pin cushion, scissors case, clam shaped pouch for wonder clips and foldover wallet for machine needles. These are all relatively quick and easy projects that I will fit in around other items that are on my ‘to do’ list. Wish me luck!

My new Sew Sturdy Organiser Bag – Ready for the Retreat

The Colourful Pinafore

Well folks it has been a long time coming but finally, here it is!

I cut out this Black Corduroy for a Pinafore Dress way back, probably sometime in 2017 and since then it has been languishing in the ’roundtoit’ pile.

One of my resewlutions(sic) for this year is to clear the back log of UFO projects that are cluttering up the sewing room and preventing me from thinking clearly and positively about future plans.

I have stitched up stuffed toys, hand sewn binding onto quilts and finally got around to this project. A plain Black pinafore dress. This seemed a might boring – let’s add some colour!

Front bodice – Thread traced vine lines
Back bodice – thread traced vine lines

Having stitched the darts and checked the fit, I thread traced some ‘vine lines’ onto the bodice back and front. Referring to several inspirational pictures of wool felt embroidery I then set about cutting pieces for flowers and leaves to decorate the vine lines. The motifs were pinned in place and reorganised a little before stitching in place with a narrow zig-zag stitch.

Front bodice applique completed
Back bodices applique completed

Once completed I then made up a lining and stitched into place around the armholes and neckline. I had left the centre back and side seams open to facilitate turning through. Machine basted these seams and again checked fit. All fine so the bodice was completed.

Now onto the skirt. I had cut out pocket bags to my usual pattern and added them to the side seams of the two skirt panels. My favourite pocket bag pattern is drafted to the waistline seam where it is stitched and avoids the pocket bags from flapping about too much. As I wanted a ‘stepping stone’ of embroidery, I stitched two ‘vines’ on the front skirt panel, aligning with the pocket openings.

Right Side Front
LeftSide Front

And finally, the hem applique. This seemed to take forever and involved a lot of pinning, checking and re-applying motifs until I was happy with the arrangement.

Completed Hem of Skirt

As the skirt is not lined on the reverse you could see all the bobbin threads of the zig-zag stitching. I found a length of pretty colourful cotton print and cut a wide band which I then applied to the reverse of the skirt hem.

The top edge of the band has been turned under by ¼ inch and hand stitched in place. The hem band fulfils two functions. It covers up the reverse of all the applique/embroidery stitches and adds some weight to the skirt hem. I am very pleased with the final effect.


Contrast cotton print hem band lining

Attaching the skirt to the bodice was the next step in construction. To begin with I thought that due to the thickness of the fabric, I would make box pleats. It turned out that there was insufficient width in the skirt panels to make them look effective. I originally lined up the side seams of the bodice with those in the skirt but this left too much fullness in the back and not enough in the front. To overcome the problem, I moved the side seams of the skirt forwards by 2 inches which also makes access to the pockets more easy. In the end I placed some small inverted pleats on the front skirt aligned with the centre front and body darts with the remainder of the fullness gathered gently to fit the bodice waistline.

Completed Hem Band

Finishing the insides of the bodice lining would be a simple matter of turning up half an inch to the inside and slip stitching the folded edge to the skirt/bodice waistline seam.

I was about to do that when I discovered the skirt lining panel in the pile of fabrics to the side of the sewing machine. This is what happens when you leave garments cut out for over a year before you start to stitch them up! Ahh, a few more sewing operations before I can finally finish this garment!

As the skirt lining panel was cut from one width of very wide acetate lining, I needed only one French seam in the centre back. I marked the quarters and then ran a gathering thread around the top. This was pulled up to fit the waistline seam of the pinafore and pinned into place. I checked the length of the lining and to ensure that it was no longer than the corduroy, turned up a wide hem of 2 inches folded under a further 3 inches. The hem was machined in place and the gathered top was overlocked to the waistline seam.

It took just 40 minutes to bring down the bodice lining, turn up 1/2 inch and then slip stitch to the waistline seam. All done!

Front view

Back View

Right Side
Left Side

The pinafore dress is pullover style and looks good over my fine polo neck sweaters. When the weather is a little warmer I shall also be able to wear over plain blouses or tee shirt tops.

Sewing Plans

I have a few projects that have been hanging around for a while so I really must get those completed. So for January/February I have identified the following:-

There are a couple of stuffed toys/pincushions that I made last year that were stuffed but not stitched up!

Kitty Cat who looks more like a dog!
Nellie the Elephant – turned out much larger than expected

Then on the list is a Black Corduroy Pinafore Dress that I plan to decorate with some felt appliqué (similar to the denim jacket that I made in 2017).

Vine lines on front bodice
Vine lines on back bodice

There are a couple of small patchwork quilts that need binding and a ‘Jodi’ top by Tilly and the Buttons that just needs lengthening with the addition of a frill.

In addition to the usual dresses and some raglan sleeved tops I also plan to make a coat using the Vogue pattern V8346 that I received in my KB pattern swap.

Vogue V8346

The Pippi pinafore dress from Jennifer Lauren Handmade.

Pippi Pinafore Dress by Jennifer Lauren

some Piccadilly PJs by Nina Lee (to wear to the Sewing Retreat on the Isle of Wight)

and another larger version of the Companion Carpet Bag by Mrs H.

Small version of the Companion Carpet Bag by Mrs H patterns

That is it so far but you know how it is – the well-made plans of mice and (wo)men often go awry!

Colourful Applique Pinafore Dress



Regular followers of my blog will have noticed that there has been nothing posted since the beginning of the month. This is due to continued suffering with chronic bronchitis followed by technical problems with the browser versus WordPress platforms. Fortunately my great friend has come to the rescue and I am back!

Back in 2017 I made this ‘not-so-subtle’ felt appliqued bolero-style jacket in denim. I particularly enjoyed the process. I have had a Black Corduroy Pinafore Dress cut out/ready to sew for over a year now and decided that what it needed was some decoration. In my book ‘more is definitely more’ and so I have embarked on a mammoth process of felt applique for what will be an ‘in your face’ decorated dress.

So far I have made the back and front bodice panels. I basted the pieces together to check fit and as it was fine, made up a lining in Black acetate fabric. The bodice and lining are now stitched together and on the mannequin whilst I proceed with decoration of the skirt. This may take some time…….

Oh oh, can’t seem to load the pictures of work in progress. Maybe later!

Top Twenty Makes in 2018

As promised, here are my Top Twenty Makes from last year. With the exception of the Ultimate Travel Bag that I made to take as Cabin luggage on my flight to the Caribbean, I am pretty sure that I will be repeating all these garments using fabric from my stash. So watch this space!

Dartmouth Hack by Cashmerette
Plantain by Deer & Doe
Plantain by Deer & Doe
Lady Skater by Kitschy Koo
Ultimate Travel Bag
by Annie Unrein
Simplicity 4032 hack
Kwik Sew 3736
Fraser by Sewaholic
Teddy by Style Arc
TNT Bodice & Gathered Skirt
Drunken Caribbean Birds
TNT Bodice with box-pleated skirt
Libby Blouse
by Sew Over It
TNT Bodice & gathered Skirt
Joni dress by
Tilly & The Buttons
TNT Bodice & gathered skirt
TNT Bodice & gathered skirt
Companion Carpet Bag by Mrs H.
TNT Bodice & gathered skirt
Collar from KwikSew 3736 hacked to TNT bodice & box pleated skirt

What I made in 2018

Be warned – this post is text only. A post of my favourite makes will follow shortly.

A Happy New Year to my readers – I know that there are not many of you but hopefully my subscribers will increase in 2019, especially if I finally manage to get a You Tube channel operational!

I have checked through my notebook of all the projects I made last year – phew! There were a lot! NINETY FOUR to be precise. But be advised – some were only very small, quick and easy projects and some were fails though thankfully not too many were the latter.

In 2019 I will be shopping my stash of patterns and fabrics for two reasons; 1 to reduce the quantity of sewing ‘stuff’ around the house and 2 – saving funds to be spent on experiences, travelling and making memories.

I will also be concentrating less on quantity and more on quality – I feel a need for some slow sewing to feed my soul.

When working in the financial services industry I needed formal business attire and when acting as President of a Women in Business Club, some ‘smart’ outfits. Now that I am fully retired my wardrobe requirements are much more for casual (and comfy!) garments to keep me warm in the winter, cool in the summer, emphasising any good figure features and hiding the bad. Although some people may think that dresses are less casual, I prefer them to separates although I have a feeling that I have made many tops throughout 2018.

Some of my working life skills have transferred to my personal life – I love a spreadsheet and from that I can see exactly which type of garments I have made most frequently, which fabrics stores and pattern companies I have used and more importantly what I need to concentrate of making in 2019 to fill gaps in my wardrobe.

My initial thoughts regarding which type of garment most frequently made has been borne out in the analysis of the spreadsheet. Twenty-three dresses and twenty-eight tops with only three pairs of trousers, two jackets, one gilet and just one skirt. I will continue with my love of making dresses but maybe cut back on the number of tops, although I still want to find my perfect raglan-sleeved top and tie front cardigan/shrug (to wear with sleeveless dresses). I usually wear tops and tunics with leggings, jeggings and jeans although I do also own a couple of RTW denim skirts. I don’t feel a particular need to make more skirts as they are my least favourite garment to wear. I would like to make a coat to wear over my full-skirted dresses, some fancy pyjamas for the sewing retreat and a pinafore dress as I have only one RTW denim version in my wardrobe.

Analysis of patterns used shows that only 9 projects were made using the major pattern company designs, Indie patterns are most definitely my preferred option. Fabrics were purchased mostly from Fabricland, New Threads Quilt Shop and the Textile Centre.

This analysis of my sewing through 2018 has been most interesting and informative. I will be continuing with my record-keeping and see what 2019 brings.