The Metallic Raincoat – making McCall’s M6517

Yes, I finally did it. I made the raincoat I’ve been promising to make myself for years (I’ve had McCall’s M6517 in my stash for years too!) It’s definitely a much needed item in Somerset, and I’ve been struggling with just a pac-a-mac and a brolly these last few years, since I got rid of my fancy technical raincoat when I decided powder blue really didn’t suit me.

McCall's M6517 raincoat in Lady McElroy metallic oilskin fabric

My raincoat dreams finally got a kick up the arse when I found this gorgeous metallic snakeskin raincoat fabric (affiliate link) on offer as part of the Minerva Brand Ambassador programme. I figured having a deadline would really help motivate me to get going on this project at long last, and I was right! You can find my post on the Minerva site here: https://www.minerva.com/posts/1073665

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The Art Gallery Shirt – sewing Butterick 5526

This is one of those projects which while it isn’t perfect, I’m really proud of. Yes, I made a proper shirt for me! Using designer fabric! And finally using that Butterick 5526 pattern I’ve had hanging around for so long it’s now out of print *facepalm*

I’m pulling a bit of a strange expression here, but what the hell, the picture shows the shirt well!

You might have noticed I missed posting last week, and that’s because I was insanely busy trying to finish this beauty up before the deadline that’s part of any Minerva Brand Ambassador projects. Full disclosure, this Art Gallery Fabrics poplin (affiliate link) was provided free of charge in return for a review over on Minerva’s site. You can find my review here: https://www.minerva.com/posts/1072416

Now, I’ve had two months to make this up and I honestly didn’t leave it all till the last minute. I just spent quite a while trying to sort out the fit of the toile, and then my perfectionist side wanted to sew everything the most complicated, time consuming way. And then Daisy needed a couple of trips to hospital for some anticoagulant injections (missed warfarin dose- whoops!) on the days I had earmarked to finish everything off. Ah well. I got it done, just in time.

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The Red Jennys – making the Closet Core Jenny Trousers

Today, for the first time, I’m wearing my red corduroy Closet Core Jenny trousers – yay! This really is a fresh off the sewing table project, considering I hemmed them yesterday. Ideally I’d like to have worn something a few more times before blogging so I can give an honest assessment of what they’re like to wear. However, as this is the second time I’ve made this pattern (first time as dungarees, blogged here) I reckon I’ve got a pretty good idea.

Closet Core Jenny trousers in red corduroy
I’m going to have to apologise for the out of focus nature of some of these pics. One of the dangers of taking last minute photos with a mirror behind you!

These Jenny trousers started life as a toile, which I was really glad I made as it indicated I needed to add an inch in length to the crotch for my dungarees version for the waist to hit me at the right place and fit. However, I was hoping I could make something work with these by grabbing all the extra width from the seam allowance I could and cutting the waistband longer too. This is a necessary adjustment when the waistband isn’t sitting at the narrowest part of me where it should be, but an inch lower where I’m an inch or so wider 🙂

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The Almost Perfect Turtleneck (using Seamwork Neenah and Gertie’s Knit Sweetheart Top)

I’m nearly there with creating my perfect winter top, using two of my TNT patterns for knits: The Knit Sweetheart Top from Gertie Sews Vintage Casual and the Seamwork Neenah Dress. Read on to find out what hasn’t worked so well, and what I’ll change next time!

I’m trialling a new location for indoor photographs: my bedroom. The door by the big windows I used to take pictures by is now partially blocked by dolls houses that are a hassle to move. This location isn’t as light but at least it’s part of the house that is always tidy and presentable. No kids allowed to make a mess in here!

Anyway, less about the picture location, more about the top. I knew I wanted to try the turtleneck from the Seamwork Neenah pattern as it looked like a traditional, high and close fitting turtleneck that folds over. I realised that this is what I wanted after having a go at sewing up the Megan Nielsen Rowan and realising those modern, low turtlenecks are not for me, thank you very much. That top was never finished and will have a new neckline to be turned into a summer top, methinks.

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The Not-a-Golf-Shirt: sewing the Jalie 2562 polo shirt

As promised, I’m back with one of my summer 2020 makes, the Jalie 2562 Polo Shirt. You’ll have to excuse me if this post isn’t as well written as usual as I had my first Covid jab yesterday morning and am definitely suffering some side effects today–although nowhere near as bad as I was last night. Fuzzy head, exhaustion and dead arm ahoy! I’m just trying to embrace it all as a sign my immune system is starting to recognise this little bugger of a virus and it will help life get back to normal eventually. Or July 21st as Boris kind of promised us here in the UK. Let’s see…

Jalie 2562 Polo Shirt

I have really mixed feelings about this top, but more about that later. I’ve never been particularly into polo shirts and this is the first time I’ve ever worn one myself. I got the idea, though, because I love open neck shirts and I thought if I could have that in a knit tee type garment it could be an ideal casual summer top. Obviously sewing it all in one solid colour gets away from the really frumpy looking pattern cover pics. Seriously, how ugly are these?!!!

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The refashioned maternity dress with a self-drafted split funnel neck collar

Back with a quick post and a quick make! This was a refashion of a maternity dress I blogged back in 2018. The original dress was a mash up of the Maternity Agnes pattern from Tilly and the Buttons, along with the cowl neckline from the Seamwork Neenah pattern, but I’ve now updated that to a self-drafted split funnel neck instead. I loved the original dress, although my records show I only wore it ten times. Perhaps the weather warmed up too quickly that spring–this is definitely a winter dress as the fabric is soooo snuggly!

Refashioned maternity Agnes dress with self-drafted split funnel neck collar

I turned the dress from maternity to regular fit simply by seam ripping the side seams and resewing them without the gathers for the bump. It meant the front was then quite a bit longer than the back! I cut it about 2.5″ shorter all round as I prefer a more mini look in the winter with thick tights. A quick rehem and the dress was finished… almost!

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Another Oslo for Mum: a longline Seamwork Oslo Cardigan

Just popping by with a quick post today, as this is my third Oslo Cardigan to hit the blog in the last year. This time, though, I’ve gone and made a longline Seamwork Oslo. Go me! I’m modelling it in the pictures, but it’s now with Mum. She’s a similar size to me at the shoulders, which is what matters with a pattern like this 🙂

I made this with a ribbed grey sweater knit (affiliate link) from Minerva, which I paid for with my own money for a change 🙂 It’s a medium weight with a nice drape, and is still in stock in five colours if you’re interested. What I loved about this fabric was it behaved really nicely when sewing up, and the ribbed and marled yarn gives more interest and depth than a regular plain sweater knit. Plus it’s really soft against your skin! It’s not super warm so not suitable for winter woolies, unless you layer it up well. On the plus side, that should make it something Mum can wear for most of the year here in the UK.

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The Zebra Dress – sewing the Sew Over It Heather Dress

Oh look, here I am blogging my second take on the Sew Over It Heather Dress, and it’s a 2021 make. How recent is that? And I didn’t get any of the fabric from Minerva. I don’t even recognise myself any more! Don’t worry, though, I have plenty of catching up still to do. I just felt like sharing something snuggly and weather appropriate rather than a pair of shorts 🙂

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

I had my first go at the Heather Dress back in 2017 and at the time I wasn’t all that sure I liked how it turned out. However, I got used to the more sporty, colourful look and my Stylebook wardrobe app tells me I’ve worn it 44 times since then. Not too bad, I suppose, considering I spent some of that time pregnant and then too large to fit back into it.

I’ve always wanted to have another try at it with a more classic black contrast and dark patterned fabric combination like Lisa Comfort models in the sample pictures on the Sew Over It site. I bought this gorgeous zebra jacquard knit from Fabric Godmother over a year ago (sadly no longer in stock) using a gift voucher I was given for my birthday. The black ponte I bought from a local fabric shop is a bit thinner than the jacquard, but I thought that would probably make the dress a bit more wearable. We don’t tend to get that much really cold weather here in Somerset, although this last week has been an exception. Brrrr!

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

Incidentally, I just discovered that the local fabric shop I used, Steve Bane Fabrics in Frome, has recently closed down for good. Thank you very f8*cking much, Covid. I was looking forward to getting back to doing some fabric shopping in person when the lockdown ends. I guess I’ll just have to travel to Bristol or Bath to be able to fondle fabric lovingly before I buy.

Still, buying online can work out amazingly well at times, and that was definitely the case with this zebra ponte which really exceeded my expectations. It’s super snuggly and pretty thick, but not unwieldy. Fabric Godmother didn’t give any indication of the fibre content but I’m guessing it’s a polyester/viscose/elastane blend, based on my previous experience with pontes. It’s a lovely quality at any rate.

Sewing up the pattern was relatively straightforward as I’d figured out a few changes to make the first time around. It’s much simpler to put the sleeves in flat and I used a different neckband technique–from my old favourite Gertie Sews Vintage Casual (affiliate link)–which results in a flatter, neater finish. I also trimmed the shoulders by 1cm on each side as I’m pretty narrow shouldered.

My only hiccup when sewing it up was when I misread the instructions and clipped the wrong section at the pocket top. Hopefully that won’t be a problem as I overlocked all along the clipped seam which should help it to stay together, but if necessary I’ll put a few hand stitches in there to reinforce it.

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

Now for the elephant in the room: sizing. Last time I made this up I was a bit slimmer and fit into the 10 at the bust and 12 at the hips, but cut a 10 as the internet said it ran a little large. I’m still wearing that size ten dress, but I’m trying to be honest with myself and sew for the size I am now, rather than the size I might possibly return to at some point in the future.

So, this time my measurements (full bust 38″, high bust 37″, waist 31″, hips 42.5″) suggested I should cut a 12 at the bust and 14 at the waist and hips. I decided to go with that. Ideally I would have cut a 12 at the waist too as there’s quite a bit of ease there, but I couldn’t wrap my head around grading that with all the panels and pockets. It was simpler to grade between further up. I suppose I could have risked cutting a straight size 12 but after reading this informative blog post about swayback adjustments I realised that my problems with fabric pooling at my back might be more down to me not allowing enough ease over my bum and hips. I’m actually pretty pleased with how a larger size has eliminated most, if not all of the fabric pooling:

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

Okay, it’s not perfect but it’s definitely good enough for me. I would have liked to take in a bit more fabric at the princess seams but after trying several basted fittings with different amounts taken in at the side and back seams, I opted for a very small amount of slimming down. This was no more than 2cm total taken in on any one seam – probably about 7cm in total – as more than this resulted in lots of drag lines at the sides above the pockets. I wonder if this was partly because the black ponte was less beefy than the zebra. Perhaps it would have been more successful if both fabrics were the same weight.

Sew Over It Heather Dress in zebra jacquard jersey

You can still see some drag lines in the photo above along with something strange going on at the back of the arm, but I can live with it. Something I’m still wondering about is whether to peg the skirt a little by taking it in a few inches at the bottom. I’m not sure I’ll bother but it’s possible I’ll give it a try next time my machines are threaded up with black.

Anyway, with all that pointing out of drag lines and possible future alterations you might be thinking I’m not happy with my finished Sew Over It Heather Dress, but the truth is I love it! It’s definitely a bit of a looser fit than I’m used to but there’s enough shape still there to suit me. I cut it a bit shorter (around 2″) as I thought that looked better with the more roomy fit.

The things I particularly love about this Heather dress are the pockets (such a clever design feature) and the zebra fabric. It’s one hundred percent me and I feel fabulous in it. It’s also really cosy on these cold, dreary lockdown winter days. I’ve been wearing it three times a week since I finished it. Yes, it does get washed sometimes. Honest!

My only regret is that I didn’t order more of this gorgeous fabric. I could so see myself in a cardigan made out of it!

The deets

Pattern: Sew Over It Heather Dress (pdf only)

Size: 12 bust grading to 14 for waist and hips

Fabric: Zebra Jacquard Jersey from Fabric Godmother (no longer in stock) and black ponte from local fabric shop

Modifications: shortened hem by 5cm

Costing: 

  • Pattern: £6.01 (originally paid £6 on sale plus £6.02 2x A0 printing, but this is the second use so I halved that total)
  • Fabric: £12.00 for zebra ponte (but only really paid £1.69 myself) and £7.50 for black ponte.
  • Notions: £0.00
  • Total: £25.51 (or £15.20 depending on how you want to count that gift voucher)

Either way, it’s a reasonable price for a dress I love and will wear loads!

On the Sewing Table

I’m currently working on the toile for my Butterick B5526 shirt, by which I mean I’ve stitched it together, realised it was definitely too small, let it out a bit and then realised it needs more substantial work. I’ve let out the front princess seams and pinned in the fabric needed to make it work.

Top row: the size 12 sewn with no alterations. Bottom row, after adding 2cm each side seam and letting out front princess seams. Definitely fitting better now!

It would definitely be easier to pick a larger size in the first place, but I bought this now out of print pattern years ago when I was a bit slimmer, and the largest pattern size in the envelope is a 12. My current measurements dictate I should go for somewhere between a 14 and 18, but I thought I might get away with it as I know Butterick include a lot of ease and I wanted a close fit. Alas, that wasn’t to be.

Luckily I have a copy of the The Palmer Pletsch Complete Guide to Fitting (affiliate link) which gives great info about altering princess seams, and really clear visuals. It’s going to be a bit technical but I’m rather looking forward to doing a proper pattern adjustment rather than just fudging it. I can see this shirt being one I make over and over again, so it’s worth getting it right.

As one pattern on the go is never enough, I reckon I might have a go at finishing off my red corduroy Jenny trousers over next week’s half term holiday. These were originally intended to check the fit of the Jenny Overalls I made, but which ended up too low on the hips. I’m thinking an extra wide waistband could be in order!

Next week on the blog I’ll be sharing another very recent, seasonally appropriate make: another Oslo cardigan for my mum, extended into a longline version. Here’s a sneak peek of me modelling it. See you then!

Anna x

Disclaimer: some of the products linked above use affiliate links, meaning if you follow the link and make a purchase I will receive a small referral fee (at no added cost to you). Any extra income to help fund my sewing habit is greatly appreciated, but rest assured I only recommend products I love and think you might find useful too 🙂

The Ex-skirt Grainline Scout Tee

Oh dear, this is one of my Top Five failures from 2020, but I think it’s worth sharing the bad as well as the good, and I’ve definitely learnt something sewing this Grainline Scout Tee up!

Grainline Scout tee in black rayon challis

This is my second attempt at a Grainline Scout Tee. The first, in a rather beefy double gauze got some wear the first summer I made it, but has now been turned into a pair of shorts (not yet blogged, but they’re coming!). I thought I’d have another go in a more drapey fabric and see if it gave a less boxy end result (spoiler: it did, but not enough for my liking).

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The Wolf Boy PJs – Ottobre Autumn 2011

I’m back sharing another relatively recent Minerva Make. If you count September 2020 as recent, that is! This is another kids PJ make, and you can see the sets I made for Lauren here and Daisy here. This time it’s Gabriel’s turn, and again I made a raglan top and jogger style bottoms using patterns from Ottobre Autumn 2011 (4/2011)

Boys PJs in wolf motif jacquard jersey using patterns from Ottobre Autumn 2011 (4/2011)

You can find the full post over on Minerva’s site here (affiliate link) where I rave a bit about the fabric. It was sent to me in return for a 500+ word post there with 6+ photos. There is no obligation to post here or to be anything but honest about my experience with the fabric. However, I was seriously impressed with these fabrics so I’m just going to gush a bit more.

First up, this jacquard jersey (affiliate link) is incredibly snuggly and an absolute dream to sew with. It’s more like a french terry in terms of warmth. Gabriel absolutely loves it and he chose the motif. I’ll admit, wolves aren’t really my thing and the whole motif looks a bit Game of Thrones, but Gabriel says it reminds him of Minecraft wolves. Doesn’t look anything like a Minecraft wolf but there we go. The workings of a six-year-old’s mind are a mystery.

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The Fashionista Gilet – sewing a faux fur vest

This project has been a long time coming. An embarrassingly long time. But it’s here now and looking fabulous, so let’s celebrate the completion of my self-drafted faux fur vest/gilet. I’m so pleased that the finished garment lives up to the vision I had in my head!

Fantasy Faux fur vest

The main fabric for my faux fur vest was sent to me by Minerva in exchange for a 500+ word review post with 6+ photos over on their site. There is no obligation to post here, but I wanted to. You can find the main review of the gilet/vest (it’s a gilet to me, but I know to most of the English speaking world it’s probably a vest!) here, and a separate post about sewing with long pile faux fur here (both affiliate links). I have to say a big thank you to Minerva here for trusting me with such a fabulously expensive and luxurious fabric (affiliate link). At £83.99 a metre this is definitely the most expensive fabric I’ve ever sewn with (although the sequin fabric I used here wasn’t far behind), and not something I’d ever have paid for myself. That said, I reckon it’s worth every penny as it’s so soft, plush and beautiful. It definitely feels top quality.

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The Happy Camper PJs, using patterns from Ottobre Winter 2019 and 2011

Yes, it’s Tuesday so that must mean it’s time for another set of kids nightwear! This time it’s little Lauren’s turn (I blogged some for Gabriel here and Daisy here), and she got a set of PJs made out this awesome campervan jersey. I used patterns from Ottobre Winter 2019 and Winter 2011 issues. Isn’t she just adorable in them?!

Campervan print girls PJs using Ottobre Winter 2019 and Winter 2011 patterns
Lauren and Seal, her favourite cuddly toy!

This is one of my Minerva makes, made with fabric supplied by them in return for a 500+ word fabric review with 6+ photos on their site. There is no obligation to post here. You can find the main Minerva write up here: https://www.minerva.com/posts/1059889

The top was actually billed as a PJ top in Ottobre Winter 2011 (the Toy Dog PJ top, apparently), and the bottoms were just leggings in a larger size with a cuff added. I used the Basic Look Leggings from Ottobre Winter 2019, which are a really good fit on Lauren in the 98 size (a whole size larger than her measurements dictate).

Lauren absolutely loves her PJs and wants to wear them all the time. She’s even worn them on the school run a couple of times as I’ve been unable to persuade her out of them in time! I think part of the reason she loves them so much is the cuteness of the print (who doesn’t love a classic campervan?!) but also it’s down to how soft the fabric is. Honestly, I’m not saying it because I was sent it free: it really is one of the snuggliest, softest jerseys I’ve ever felt. It’s super quality and I would love to have jersey like this in solids or stripes for my own clothes. Minerva sell it in two more gender neutral colourways too, if you’re interested.

On the Sewing Table

I’m currently about to start working on my Heather Dress, and hope to have it finished by the weekend. It probably would already be finished if I hadn’t made myself tidy my sewing area and deal with some of my mending/alterations pile this weekend just gone. Is it just me or does the mending pile grow when you’re not looking?! Anyway, I figured if I can get into a routine of doing one or two mending or alteration projects between every new sewing project then I should be able to power through it all and have a weight off my mind. Some stuff has been in there for YEARS. A lot of it could probably be thrown in the fabric recycling pile, to be honest.

This weekend I returned to use a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt for Daisy, a skirt and a dress for Lauren, and finally a pair of knickers for me. No, seriously. I darned a rip in some knickers. I really am thrifty!

I’ll be back on Friday with the grand reveal of my amazing faux fur gilet. This project has been a year in the making, and I’m so thrilled to finally have it finished with some great photos to share!

Ciao for now,

Anna x

MakeNine 2021

Okay, I said I’d be posting a summer make if I didn’t have my Faux fur gilet pics yet (I don’t), but then I remembered that January is an ideal time to think about plans for the year. So let’s have a think about MakeNine 2021!

I’ve been doing MakeNine for a few years now with varying degrees of success (see 2019, 2018, 2017), but even if I don’t make much from the list (life/pandemics happen, after all) it still focuses my mind. Here’s the final grid for 2020’s plans:

I made three out of the nine–the Stella Dress, the Jenny Overalls and the Oslo Cardigan–the last of which I ended up gifting to my sister as it just didn’t suit me.

MakeNine 2021

And here’s the grid for this year:

MakeNine 2021

As you might notice, four of these are repeats from 2020. I still really want to make the Butterick B5526 shirt, the McCalls raincoat (I have the patterns for both in my stash) and an underwired bra (possibly the Cloth Habit Harriet). The Sew Over It Heather Dress is already cut out and ready to sew, so I’m confident that one will be made this year. You can find out more about my plans for each in this post: http://annajosews.com/my-make-nine-plans-2019-results-and-ideas-for-2020/

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The Starry PJs – Frankie tee and Stella Joggers from Tilly’s Stretch book

This is another recent PJ make for one of my kids (they’ve had a set each this winter). This was Daisy’s turn, and as she’s now adult sized she got to choose patterns from Tilly Walnes’ Stretch book: the Frankie tee and Stella joggers. With a few little adaptations they make excellent pyjamas!

Starry Jersey PJs using Frankie Tee and Stella Joggers from Stretch book
Daisy modelling her PJs in her bedroom, complete with Lottie the cat

This was a make using fabric provided by Minerva in return for a 500+ word post on their site with 6+ photos. There was no obligation to post here, but I like keeping my own record of my makes on my site too 🙂 You can find the Minerva post here which gives more sewing details and fabric info: https://www.minerva.com/posts/1060723

While I was initially a bit disappointed to discover Daisy has now grown out of the Ottobre kids size range (they have such cute patterns!) I’ve realised this means I can make her any of my patterns now. And I have lots of patterns! Daisy does need some adjustments making to pretty much all patterns as she has the typical Downs’ Syndrome proportions of wide neck, narrow shoulders, short arms and legs and a tendency to be round in the middle. However, I’m now pretty used to what’s required, just like with the standard adaptations I make for myself, and that makes life easier.

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The Playworker Dungarees – Closet Core Jenny Overalls in leaf print canvas

I’m back sharing a very recent make (hooray for catching up a bit!) which I finished at the end of November: my first pair of Closet Core Jenny Overalls. Or dungarees as I prefer to call them. Not sure if there’s a difference, but it sounds less like something you’d don to fix a car. Here’s a pic of me modelling them with wellies on in some local woods:

Closet Core Jenny Overalls as cropped dungarees
Proof these are practical: can be worn for a super muddy winter walk (with wellies)

These were made using a fabulous digitally printed canvas supplied by Minerva in return for a post on their site (500+ words) with 6+ photos. You can find that post here, and it goes into some detail about sewing up this pattern. Minerva only supplied the fabric. All thread, notions and the pattern were purchased by me.

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The Teacher Trousers: make the Jalie Éléonore Pull-On Jeans

Happy New Year! I’ve still got a fair few makes to share from 2020 so I should be posting pretty regularly over the next few months–and hopefully all year if I get into a good habit with it. Here today is a make from August: the Jalie Éléonore Pull-On Jeans in a pretty bold dark floral cotton. Ah, summer!

Jalie Éléonore Pull-On Jeans

Oh yeah, I love these! They were made with a linen look cotton supplied by Minerva in return for a 500+ word blog post with 6+ photos on their site. You can find that post here. There’s no obligation for me to post on this blog but I wanted to anyway. I love having this as a diary of everything I’ve made. I keep a sewing journal too, but it’s great to have this as well.

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