Megan Nielsen Briar Top- the one that worked.

Last Summer I bought the Megan Nielsen Briar top pattern and made it up in a thickish silk cable knit fabric I bought in a sale. It never saw the light of day as whatever I tried, I just could not finish the neckline in an acceptable way. I even tried a stretch satin binding and it came out horribly wavy. The pattern then languished in the box for months.

I thought I’d give it another go in some stretchy lightish cotton jersey.

Megan Nielsen Briar Top

Megan Nielsen Briar Top

There you are, a perfect neckline, lying close to the skin! It’s the standard neckband topstitched close to the edge of the top. As the fabric has 4 way stretch I cut the neckband lengthways to make use of the stripes. Obviously I haven’t made the cropped version, but the normal length is perfectly age appropriate. I made a size S grading to M at the hem. The instructions are perfectly clear as all indie patterns tend to be, but I don’t need to look at T shirts ones now. It took me a couple of hours to make.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALook everyone, practically no puddling at the small of the back! I must admit I was expecting some.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI quite like the silhouette or mullet hem as some call it. I have seen some RTW tops like this made from linen jersey, and I intend to make at least one. They would look fabulous over loose linen trousers  or a flowy maxiskirt ( I have bought the Sewaholic Gabriola  and can’t wait to try it). Then all that is needed is some sunshine, too much to hope for a tropical beach. I’ll settle for floating around an English garden.

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Tilly Coco Top

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love this top, it has a 60′s feel to it! When I saw Tilly’s pattern I wasn’t sure it was for me, the dress was rather too like those I wore in my teens. I don’t think you should revisit your past, it can be a mistake. I never liked the blue eyeshadow  and frosted pink lipstick look so there’s none of that here. I did have a minidress way back then in purple with yellow pockets (remember Good Vibrations anyone?).

The top version appealed to me much more, so I cut the body from some thick dogtooth jersey, and the collar, cuffs, and pockets from  heavy textured black jersey. I thought the boat neck was a little wide for me so I brought it in by 1/2″ each side. I also added cuffs to the long sleeve version.

I cut a size 3 and. according to the measurements, graded to a 5 at the hip. However this made the sides slits stick out rather than lying smoothly. I took them in and probably ended up back at size 3.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe side slits lie nicely now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQuite a nice back view ,not too much pooling going on!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThey also look good with my cream jeans. This top is very comfortable to wear.

I think I’ll make some more of these, it would be cosy out of sweatshirt fabric;ponte would also be a good choice. It’s great to have variety in my cool weather coverups.


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Style Arc Lolita top in mosaic

LOLITA-TOP line drawing

This is the second Style Arc pattern I’ve made, I like it much better than the Sunny top, although the instructions left me baffled. The collar is cut in four pieces, two upper and two lower bands. The instructions tell you to sew the longer side completely shut and leave the shorter side open between notches to fit the neckline. This is the wrong way round and if I had read Clothing engineer’s Pattern review  first it would have saved my unpicking session. However I ignored the neckband instructions and sewed on the  collar and then added the binding.

Back collar lolita top

Back collar lolita top

The back collar has a pretty ruched effect.



Neckband lolita top

Style Arc Lolita top

Style Arc Lolita top

It is a very neck hugging top but that’s no bad thing in my opinion. This jersey has very little stretch which makes getting the top on and off rather challenging. I’m not sure what the collar bands would look like on a larger frame as they cross right over the bust.

Style Arc Lolita top back view

Style Arc Lolita top back view

Isn’t this jersey fabulous? I had to have it when I saw it on ebay.

Mosiac jersey- careful pattern placement required.

Mosiac jersey- careful pattern placement required.

Of course you need to consider where the faces will fall when doing the pattern layout. I have the ladies on the back and sleeves and avoided them completely on the collar and front.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have quite a lot left and don’t know what to make with it. Maybe as edging or in accent pieces?

I’m much better pleased with Style Arc now, which is lucky as I have 4 more patterns to try!

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Iconic Sammi Camisole- This one is a TNT

SammiThis looked like just the sort of camisole I was after, even though I don’t look very much like the model. I’m not 6′ tall with a large chest!

I added 2 ” to the length to make sure it tucks in to my skirts and trousers, as this will be very much an underlayer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a very good fit, and the purple viscose jersey is really comfortable. The way Lena attaches the bands and straps is the neatest I’ve seen. However she advises cutting 1″ strips and when I tried that my machine was not happy. It wouldn’t sew them straight and kept veering off. I recut the strips to 1.5″ wide and all was well.


This view is as much as I’m prepared to show on the WWW.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made one in grey viscose jersey as well.

This is a really great basic that takes very little fabric. I’ve already cut out another in scarlet viscose, and I expect there will be many more as they will be in constant use in the winter as a base layer. They will be also be used under loose shirts in the summer.

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Style Arc Sunny Top- It’s not going to be a TNT


Silly posture to show the lines of the top.

Silly posture to show the lines of the top.

I bought 4 Style Arc patterns in February as they had an offer which meant I got 4 for the price of two. This top was the first Style Arc pattern I’ve ever made, and it is rather different to my usual sort.

SUNNY-TOPIt is designed to be the new cocoon shape, and why I thought it would suit me I don’t know. It is supposed to be wider around the waist and then narrow at the hips, exactly the opposite to me. I had some soft wool jersey which I thought would work. It turned out to be very stretchy, so the shape is not clearly seen.

The sleeves are drafted to be extremely slim, I really disliked them. I cut out some sleeves from another pattern, and reduced the shoulder line by about three inches. With my narrow shoulders very off the shoulder tops look odd.

An even sillier shot.

An even sillier shot.

It’s comfortable, but my DH has given it the thumbs down. I’ll wear it around the house but I don’t think this shape is for me. Black is so hard to photograph, but it doesn’t look any clearer in my mirror.

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Butterick 5760 Cardigan- the last Winter 6PAC piece

Butterick 5760 Cardigan, Burdastyle 11-2013-103 Blouse, Burda 7447 Trousers

Butterick 5760 Cardigan, Burdastyle 11-2013-103 Blouse, Burda 7447 Trousers

I believe it is supposed to be bad blog etiquette to apologise not posting frequently, so I will only say intensive physiotherapy sessions and very poor indoor light conditions for photographing finished work have prevented me.

However I did finish my Winter 6PAC and here is a dim photo to prove it. I won’t say much about this version of Burda 7447 trousers, except that I widened the legs a little, and used a silk organza selvedge to stabilise the waistband. I have worn them a lot, and the waistband appears to be staying it’s original size.

The Butterick 5760 Cardigan pattern is a basic round neck cardigan, but the instructions are dreadful.

B5760I have made three versions now, the first out of some interlock cotton which stretched out of shape, the second of a very stretchy jersey, and now this one. I used some merino wool jersey I found on Ebay , it’s thin but very warm.


The neckband is supposed to be stitched on, and then the edge turned under and hand stitched? I overlocked it in one go. The front bands are supposed to be stitched on twice and then trimmed, but I overlocked them. It gives a much neater finish. They also expect you to set in the sleeve in the round. In fact the whole instructions are more suited to woven fabrics, although they recommend knit fabrics.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy only issue is that the neckband is too narrow to fit a buttonhole on it, so I used press fasteners. I see the original photo shows the fastenings are only on the front band, but I would prefer the neckband to be fastened. I think I will try making the buttonhole before attaching the neckband.

I made a size 12 grading to 14 at the hem, narrowing the shoulder 1/2″ and taking a pinch out  of the neck line. I also took about 1″ off the top of the sleeve to make it fit.

I have now got a workable cardigan pattern, but a novice sewer would have a dreadful job making a nice version.

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Winter 6PAC 2013/4 Burdastyle 06-2013-121 A-line Skirt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI started this back in November before my fall, and I’ve now managed to finish it. It’s a nice A-line skirt.06-2013-121 skirtAs Burdastyle drafted it, it has lots of topstitching , back welt pockets and belt loops. I wanted to make it in black corduroy so could not face the welts. I ditched most of the topstitching, so then it seemed pointless to have a centre front seam. I didn’t fancy making corduroy belt loops either.

So a much plainer skirt then. I cut a 42 at the waist grading to 44 at the hip as usual. I was really surprised when I basted it together and tried it on for fit. Mega gaposis! I had to add back darts; but now it’s a great fit.


Terrible pics I’m afraid, black in midwinter daylight. Also I find it hard to tuck in my shirt with my wonky hand!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used black pocketing for the waistband facing to reduce bulk. I’m proud of my lining insertion, and the invisible zip really is, you can’t see it on the photo I took! The instruction have you take the zip up to the top of the waistband, but that seems unnecessary on one this narrow.

I will make this again in the summer with all the topstitching , but probably not the welt pockets.


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Jungle January ’14- Kitschy Coo Penny Pinafore Tunic

Where's the rest of the herd?

Where’s the rest of the herd?

I wanted to join in Jungle January and I had this scarlet animal print in my stash. At first I thought of yet another Renfrew but then Kitschy Coo released another pattern. I liked the idea of using the print as panels; it would be more subtle especially with this bold colour.

The Penny Pinafore comes in three lengths, tunic, minidress and kneelength. Of course I chose the long sleeved version of the tunic length in the depth of winter! I cut a size 4 grading to size 5 at the hem. The pattern has cutting lines to make the tunic length a little closer to the hip than the mini or kneelength version. I felt that I needed the extra room so followed the dress cutting lines. I also cut the length 2″ longer as I wanted to cover my rear completely.

The pattern as drafted went together easily, I followed all the instructions apart from the neckband where I used the quartering method. I would normally sew a jersey top using a 4 thread overlocker stitch, but with my currently weak hand decided to sew it together with my sewing machine, and just overlock the seams. I could have basted it and then used a 4 thread overlock  of course, but the brain isn’t functioning too well and I didn’t think of it. Also it would have meant a lot of handsewing and that hurts my hand.

When I came to the hem, I just added an extra inch instead of the two I allowed for. This has given me the coverage I was after.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like this top, although it will have to wait until early spring to be worn in public. I wanted a top to wear with these skinny jeans I made last year which are really too tight. That’s what happens when you use a non stretch woven fabric with a pattern for stretch denim and don’t make allowances.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like it better with the stone jeans, it makes my legs look a bit longer. I hope you notice my leopard print socks completing the jungle theme.

The neckline is a nice scoop, but I think I’ll raise it for my next version in a ponte for winter wear. I hate a cold neck, and we have a drafty house. There will definitely be another one, maybe a dress.

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Top 5 Hits and Misses 2013

Looking back, I have had a productive year starting 55 projects  and only failing to finish 2. Of course there would have been a few more if December hadn’t been wiped out by my fall. I still have an almost completely useless left hand, but now my doctor has given me a good set of pain medications I feel ready to start a little sewing if I can manage it.

Anyway it’s time to reflect on what  I achieved this year.


1. This must be the Sewaholic Renfrew. I have made 5 different versions which have all been worn constantly.

Kelly Skirt and Renfrew wool sweater

Kelly Skirt and Renfrew wool sweater

I think this is my favourite version in Turquoise wool, it’s so cosy and shows no sign of pilling.

2. 6PACs

What a fantastic concept! I completed Spring ,Summer and Autumn 6PACs; almost all the garments worked, and they all fitted into my existing wardrobe palettes. It really makes you think about what you are making and leaves far fewer orphans.

3. Wedding outfit.

Marfy 3058 skirt and Marfy 3057 jacket

Marfy 3058 skirt and Marfy 3057 jacket

Katie and MeIt was worth the hours spent, the sweat and tears and curses. I learnt more about sewing silk than I realised, and would go about making the skirt completely differently were I to do it again. The only regret is I have worn them once, and probably never again.


Burda 7130 coat and Sew2Pro Hat

Burda 7130 coat and Sew2Pro Hat

Burda 7130 made  a lovely winter coat, which was much needed in the coldest winter for ages. I can’t wear it at the moment, I don’t want to damage it with the velcro of my arm sling.

5. Lady Skater Dress

Lady Skater Dress

Lady Skater Dress

A nice simple jersey dress, it didn’t need any fiddling about to make it fit. I made two and will definitely make more next year.


Burdastyle 3-2013-135 pic

Burdastyle 3-2013-135

I really wanted to have a moto jacket, but this one defeated me. A failure to understand a half collar stand and unsuitable fabric led to this being uncompleted.

2. Megan Neilsen Briar Top

I had some silk cable knit jersey,and wanted to make a high/low top. Total failure ensued. All was going well until I got to the neck binding. I tried both the suggested methods and also bought some stretch bias binding and tried that. Nothing gave an acceptable result, the neckline waved all over the place, project binned. The fabric was just too unstable.

I like the pattern,and will try again with some linen jersey for a sheer summer overtop.

3. Sewaholic Cordova Jacket

Sewaholic Cordova Jacket

Sewaholic Cordova Jacket

The colour is is wrong for me, pastels next to my face drain my skin colour.  The neckline is too high, that sort of close fit doesn’t flatter me . Finally, I don’t like the pleated  sleeve caps, they seem to be overwhelming me. I had suggestions of wearing it with stronger coloured scarves, but this was supposed to be a summer jacket. I wore this once, and will be sending it to the charity shop.

4.Sewaholic Minoru Waterproof Jacket

Not so much of a miss as a failure to start. I have the fabric and lining, but somehow can always find something else I want to sew instead. I think I’ll avoid the Spring 6PAC ,and catch up some other things I need; i.e a new dressing gown and new blue jeans and maybe the waterproof jacket?

I can’t think of another miss this year, so that’s not bad.

Now for 2014, in which I am planning to take part in sewalongs such as Anne of Pretty Grievance’s Jungle January and A Challenging Sew’s Marfy Free Pattern Sewalong. I want to make a proper couture french jacket and I bought this book recently to help me.

I did my first sewing for a month today! I just sewed two darts and took in part of two side seams, and fused some interfacing to the waistband. It’s a start; my hand and arm got tired after 1/2 hour, but at least I’m making progress. I’ve been so bored recently, there are only so many hours even I can spend reading.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL! I hope you and your families prosper in 2014.

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Last pieces of the year

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI haven’t posted for a while, and although I need no excuse, I have an excellent reason. Three weeks ago I fell down my stairs and dislocated my left shoulder. I also damaged nerves to my wrist and hand so cannot use it. I should mention I am left handed so am even more incapacitated. There will be no more sewing for a while until I have less pain, and more mobility.

I have two items left to blog and then there will be not much to say.

M,y daughter gave me a length of Liberty Tana lawn for my birthday and when I received the Burdastyle November magazine I decided to use it on the  #103 gathered neck blouse. It has darted raglan sleeves but no body shaping. I cut a neckband piece of the suggested length but when I tried it around my neck it was strangling me! I cut another piece 1 1/2″ longer which is more comfortable. I never thought I had a particularly large neck so this pattern is rather ungenerous.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is a lovely ditsy pattern, and when I can get the blouse on I will enjoy wearing it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor my November dress of the month I chose a magenta ponte roma. I decided to make another Lady Skater dress but wanted a cowl neck. I used my Sewaholic Renfrew pattern, and I modified the neckline of the Lady Skater to match it. Because the ponte has very little stretch I decided to make a size larger and this worked out fine. I also added 4 inches to the skirt length. Again this should be a useful winter dress, but I can’t wear it yet.

I’ll try and do a round up post for the year end, but one handed typing is pretty tiring.



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