Gable #2

I know I posted very recently about my first Gable but the main reason for a further report so soon afterwards is because of this fabric.  I just love it!

It’s the eco-jersey I bought from Ditto during the recent Portslade meet up.  I’d seen it online but decided to wait until I could actually touch it.  Once I had there was no way I was leaving without it.

This fabric is made without the use of chemicals which is reassuring because who wants formaldehyde (amongst other things) next to their skin?  This is also just about the best jersey I’ve ever sewn with.  The level of stretch was perfect and it has good recovery.  It is REALLY soft and the edges stay flat and smooth when it is cut.  It also washed very well and didn’t distort.

I made up the Gable in no time and wore it on Day 14 of #mmmay17.  I think because this fabric is firmer than the one I used for the first version the neckline felt slightly too high and began to feel like it was choking me.  Then my mother pointed out that it looked a bit high so I couldn’t stop thinking about it after that!  The beauty of this top is that the neckline is sewn right at the very end.  The instructions state that it should be sewn with a long straight stitch so it was very easy to unpick the front neckline, drop it down slightly and re-sew.   I wore it again on Day 17 and although it doesn’t really look any different, it does feel much better.

The Gable is definitely the top I’ve always been looking for and I will be making more.  Hopefully in chemical-free jersey.




Me Made May 2017 – halfway round up

If you follow me on IG you will have seen all this already so feel free to look away now.

This is the third year I’ve taken part in MMM and each time it’s had quite an impact on the way I view the contents of my wardrobe.  Since May 2015 I’ve almost stopped buying new RTW clothing and this year, although it wasn’t part of my specific pledge (which was to wear at least one me-made item a day), I’ve decided to be pretty ruthless to make sure everything fits/is comfortable/doesn’t have holes in it.  If I’m not happy with something it will either get altered straightaway or sent to the charity shop.

Here’s what I’ve worn so far.  Tights are very much in evidence, as are scarves!  And curtain fabric turned into skirts and dresses!

Action taken so far :

  • Coco top from Day 2 is in the recycling bag.  I’ve never really liked the fabric and it has gone a bit bobbly.
  • Skirt from Day 3 – one of my all time favourites – has had a new invisible zip inserted.  I made this skirt before I mastered the invisible zip and my centered zip wasn’t up to much!
  • Skirt from Day 4 has been taken in as it was too big round the waist and is being worn again today.
  • The Gable top from Day 14 has had the front neckline dropped slightly and no longer feels like it is choking me!  Also being worn again today.

I’m pretty happy with everything else.

Day 10 was a bit of a cheat because I was so keen to wear a dress I’d bought from a secondhand shop and just couldn’t wait until June!  I did use one of my Anya bags made from the pattern by Zoe and as she is the creator of MMM I decided it was OK.

I never think I’ll being able to keep up daily posts on IG as I HATE having my photograph taken but I’ve even posted a proper photograph taken by Mr Jane Makes.  I’m usually hiding behind my phone with a mirror selfie!  Thank you to everyone for all your lovely comments – it really boosts my confidence.

Another reason I’m glad of the daily photographs is that I’ve been able to make this comparison.  Regular readers will know all about Mr Jane Makes’ heart attack last June and his pretty impressive four stone weight loss since then.  The stringent portion control and lack of inappropriate food around the house + increased exercise had a beneficial effect on me too.  Here I am wearing the same skirt in May 2016 and May 2017.  Since last May the skirt has been taken in – removing a total of four inches from the circumference of the waist!

Looking forward to the rest of May – and hopefully some better weather!  It’s pouring with rain at the moment and I’m back in tights.

Simplicity 1364

I finished this top a while ago but when I posted a photo of it on IG as part of #mmm17 I realised I’d never blogged about it.  I think it’s worth a mention.

This is a re-issue of a 1960s pattern which I bought after seeing the version @lois.h posted on IG.  I was planning to  make a top to go with my Christmas skirt but never got around to it.  In my quest for the perfect top pattern I decided give it a try with some pale grey denim twill from Fabworks.  It was only £5 a metre but I’ve noticed that it is now sold out which is a shame.  I was worried it would crease badly but even after wearing the top to work all day it looked fine.

The pattern has long side seam darts which didn’t need adjusting and a lovely neckline (I’ve explained before about my preference for a high neckline!).  I would say that it’s not quite the same neckline as the illustration, I was expecting it to be more like the Gable Top, but I’m fine with the way it turned out.

The only adjustment I made was to the sleeves which were, as always, too long.  There’s a elbow dart which had to be moved to make sure it was level with my elbow.  It’s a pretty quick and easy sew and a definite wardrobe staple.

My version isn’t quite as fitted as the cover illustration and I may add a bit more shaping at the waist next time.  I’m hoping it will also work tucked into a skirt.  It has a long invisible zip at the back which I have to admit was unpicked a couple of times.  The zips previously stocked by C & H Fabrics are apparently no longer available and I’m not so happy with the alternative they now sell.  I think the one I used in the end came from Ditto and it’s fine – but there is a teeny mess at the bottom as a result of the unpicking.  I’ve not photographed it because I’m gradually learning to ignore it!    I edged the facing with bias binding because I like the neat finish it gives.

I’ve seen a lovely sleeveless version of this top by Sew DIY in black and white gingham which would be perfect for the summer – if and when it arrives!

I also have this lovely vintage fabric I bought from Anna at The Eternal Maker.  Her grandmother made a dress for her aunt from it in the late 60s and I have what was left over!  Might be a perfect match with this 60s pattern!

Top 64

Once upon a time I commented on an IG post by Karen from The Draper’s Daughter and as a result we met up IRL and became friends!  Karen is a stockist for Merchant & Mills and having seen her version of the Top 64 I bought the pattern.  It sat in the waiting to be made pile for months but after spotting Sal’s top on IG (@sewingunlimited)  I was finally inspired to get on with it.  I had a remnant of a crinkly fabric with a tiny stripe from C & H Fabrics which I thought I’d try for the first attempt.

I was particularly keen on the pockets hidden within the front horizontal seam and the raglan sleeves which are made up of two separate pieces (i.e. front and back).

I do like the utilitarian packaging and presentation of Merchant & Mills patterns, although I think the illustrations may not be sufficient for a complete beginner (and I spotted a typo on the envelope!).  I traced off the Size 8 and made no initial adjustments even though I knew the sleeves would be way too long on me.  Everything came together very easily, especially the pockets, although I didn’t follow the instruction to secure the pockets down the back of the garment.  Instead I marked the stitch line on the front with chalk and used that as my guideline for top stitching.  I did end up with a rogue triangle of fabric sticking up at the top of the sleeve – I mentioned this to Sal and she didn’t have the same problem so I had clearly done something wrong.  My remedy was to chop it off, add the neck facing and pretend it hadn’t happened!

I was right about the length of the sleeves!  Here’s the finished garment before hemming.  The sleeves extended way beyond the ends of my fingers!

I prefer three-quarter length sleeves even in the winter so in the end I shortened them by about 20 cms.

This wasn’t the best fabric.  It doesn’t press that well and didn’t appreciate having iron on interfacing attached to it but, despite that, I think it worked really well for this top.  I wore it for the sewing meet-up previously blogged and it is so comfortable to wear.  My favourite thing is definitely the pockets.  I noticed a photograph of a dress version in the pattern details on the website which isn’t mentioned on the pattern itself.  I definitely think that would be worth a try.  I made a feature of the cross stitch used to secure the facing to the garment on the shoulder and back seam using embroidery thread which I really like.

Another pattern I’d recommend and next time I’ll aim get the top of the sleeve right!

Portslade Sewing Meet Up

Who could refuse an invitation from Zoe to an exclusive visit to Ditto and The Fabric Godmother during the bank holiday weekend?  I’ve been to several of Josie’s open days at her fabric headquarters but this time we were visiting Ditto’s unit in Portslade where the online orders are processed and Gill has been holding some open days recently.

Mr Jane Makes kindly dropped me off at Ditto after finishing his park run (a personal best at 25:40) and chose to change from his running gear into ‘normal’ clothes when we arrived.  Emma from @dressmakerssocial did mention later than she’d spotted him out of the window in his pants.  I hope she gets over the experience soon!  He has no shame.

I’ll spare you a photograph of him in his smalls!

In addition to Zoe and her friend Rea it was lovely to meet up with :

I nearly forgot – Zoe also brought her adorable baby, Frankie.  Given that he had to spend several hours being passed around his adoring fans he was as good as gold!

Being faced with all this fabric as we walked into Ditto was overwhelming!  This is just part of one room – there’s another one too!  There was also a table piled up with homemade cake.

I never remember to take proper photographs but the image on the right shows Sal, Louise and Vicki having an animated conversation whilst clutching fabric!

We were very well looked after by Emma’s daughter who took orders for hot drinks and her son recorded an interview with everyone, asking them to choose their favourite fabric and say what they were going to make with it!

As if that wasn’t enough fabric for one day – off we went to The Fabric Godmother.  Josie had very kindly prepared lunch for us and Claire supplied chocolate brownies.  Claire has something of the Mary Poppins about her and is able to produce pretty much anything you might need from the depths of her handbag including plastic bags for take away cake!

Some people were more restrained than others.   I’ve been committed to curbing my fabric buying recently, sticking to using up what I already have and seeking out secondhand fabric in charity shops.  However …. I had already spotted an eco jersey on Ditto’s website which is produced without the use of harmful chemicals and once I’d seen it IRL decided it would make a perfect second Gable TopHere’s my first one.

At The Fabric Godmother I succumbed to some mustard/gold denim.  I’ve had this fabric before to make a Brumby skirt which is now too big for me and although I’ve done a lot of alterations recently I just can’t face unpicking the waistband and dealing with all that gathering.  I may not necessarily replicate the Brumby but the fabric will definitely become another skirt.  I was also looking for some grey denim which I also found at TFG.  This may well become a Cleo dress.  I’m very late to the Cleo party but Louise’s version in sparkly denim finally decided me.

One of the highlights of the day was our goodie bag from Josie.  I didn’t open the package until later in the day when I discovered we had all been given a length of this amazing floral fabric and a pattern!  So generous. It is not something I would normally choose for myself but it is beautiful and I’m going to think very carefully about what I make with it to ensure I do it justice.

With fabric and cake in hand I headed off for Portslade station to catch a train back to Brighton to meet up with Mr J-M at my sister’s house.  Thankfully it’s only two stops because the train was rammed with Brighton supporters who had clearly already been to the pub and were singing some fairly inappropriate songs, the lyrics of which I won’t repeat here!  They were probably not as cheerful by the end of the day after losing the match.

A huge thank you to Ditto and The Fabric Godmother for a great day and for the great organisation by Zoe, Stevie and Claire.

A Stripy Gable

I’ve just realised that I drafted this post a while ago and forgot to publish it at the time!  As this is such a great pattern I didn’t want to miss spreading the word so here it is now.

I make a lot of skirts and had previously committed on this blog not to make any more without also making a top to match.  That resolution has already fallen slightly by the wayside but in my defence I’ve been searching for a well fitting and simple top pattern.

I’d seen a few versions of the Gable Top by Jennifer Lauren Handmade and when I read Becca‘s recent post I was convinced to buy the pattern.  I was particularly drawn to the neckline.  I’ve always had a bit of a thing about necklines and even as a small child I refused to wear anything that showed my chest!  I have no idea why.  I can clearly remember a Ladybird top with a square neckline that reduced me to tears at the age of about six.  I also had a complete aversion to anything with a pocket on the chest.  Again I have no idea why but I do recall being forced into gingham dresses with such pockets and dragged to school making an almighty fuss!  I’ve got over the pocket issue but still quite like a high neckline.

I don’t have much patience with pdfs but am lucky enough to have occasional access to a plan printer and so on this occasion I didn’t have to reach for the sticky tape.  To check the fit I used some striped jersey I’d bought a couple of years ago as a remnant.   I’d decided I wasn’t that keen on it because it felt a bit synthetic and flimsy and I thought it would be tricky to sew with.  I was wrong.

This top turned out far better than I was expecting.  The fit is perfect, the neckline is perfect, the fabric behaved very well and it is really comfortable to wear.  I sewed it using my regular machine and it was finished in no time.  It’s a great pattern – and the neckline can be adjusted right at the end to suit your particular preference.  I  have short arms and followed Becca’s lead and used the sleeve version designed for the contrast cuff but left off the cuff itself which turned out to be just the right length for me.

I was pleased with my stripe matching on the side seams.  I’d been reading this post by Wendy Ward which clearly had a very good influence on me.

Thanks for all the compliments on IG, I can definitely recommend the Gable and will be making plain versions in colours to match some of my curtain remnant and vintage fabric skirts.


Hawaiian Vintage

This post is particularly relevant as it is Makers for Fashion Revolution Week, a campaign which asks the question “Who made my clothes?”  Whilst I make most of mine it has set me off thinking more about where the fabric I buy has come from.  I am sometimes guilty of succumbing to the temptation to buy lovely new fabric without too much thought about how or where it was made.

However, I do also buy secondhand fabric and we spend a LOT of time in Chichester’s charity shops, usually doing a trawl of most of them on a Saturday.  Our favourite, as I’ve probably mentioned before, is the St Wilfrid’s Hospice Retro & Vintage shop at Eastgate Square.

Over several recent visits I’d noticed a folded piece of fabric tied with string and labelled “?1960s vintage fabric”.  I picked it up more than once but the colours weren’t really what I would normally pick so back on the shelf it went.  I eventually decided that at £6 I might as well just buy it!   There turned out to be three large pieces – I’ve not measured them but there is at least enough for a dress and a skirt.

On further inspection I spotted the wording on the selvedge and did some research.

I discovered that a Conrad Von Hamm moved to Hawaii from Germany in 1890 at the age of 20 where he worked for a successful local businessman named Alexander Young.  He later married the boss’s daughter and he and his father-in-law set up the Von Hamm-Young Corp.

After his father-in-law’s death in 1910 Conrad took over and expanded the business and as well as selling machinery and automobiles he began to produce fabric under the name THC Hawaiian Textiles.  Apparently any fabrics with a VHY tag is from the 1950s – 60s, THC means that it was produced in the 1960s-70s so the shop label was correct.

Here’s the fabric in all its glory.  I’ve no idea what type of fabric it is.  When I visit Ditto Fabrics at the weekend I will ask for an expert opinion.

The design has started to grow on me since I posted the image on Instagram and had several positive comments!  I think I might try making a dress using Simplicity 1609 as this is a re-issued 60s pattern.  I’ve already made a bedsheet toile.

I would dispute the term Jiffy in relation to this pattern as there are a lot of darts to sew – neck, bust, back and seam – but miraculously the bodice is a perfect fit so no changes needed there.  I cut the 10 but did need to reduce my seam allowance slightly at the waist for breathing room.  Yes, I have put a zip into the toile – Mr Jane Makes is wonderful in many ways but not so hot on pinning someone into a toile to check the fit!  I’ve since waited a week to walk off a large Easter egg and it is still OK fit-wise!

There is a front seam too but after a conversation with @vintage_charity (who has made this dress up several times) I think I may eliminate the seam allowance and cut it on the fold to avoid the need for pattern matching on the front.

A New Arrival

We’ve had a very happy addition to our lives recently.  Mr Jane Makes became a grandad and I’m very happy to be granny Jane or whatever name we settle on!

Here he is with his adorable granddaughter on their first meeting.  She is absolutely beautiful!

I knew I would be sewing for her but I didn’t want to make a start until I knew she’d arrived safely in the world, which she did on what would have been my dad’s 87th birthday.  My sister and I were so pleased as it means the day will continue to be special.

I remembered that Zoe had posted earlier in the year about her favourite free children’s patterns so that was my starting point.

First up was the Ringer t-shirt by Brindille & Twig which is suitable for the age range 0M – 6Y and you can choose to just print the size you want.  I decided to go for the 3 – 6 months option.  The t-shirt has neck, hem and sleeve bands which avoids the need for hemming but I did view the TINY sleeve band with some trepidation!  However, everything came together really well on my sewing machine and I trimmed all the seams right back to avoid anything that could irritate delicate skin.  I made three t-shirts and have never taken so much care over sewing anything.  Despite this I somehow managed to sew the neckband on back to front on the first one – and get the fabric upside down on the hem band so the farmyard animals are lying on their backs with their legs in the air!  Hopefully she won’t notice!

Next up were dribble bibs.  Zoe had also posted a tutorial for these but it involved drawing your own pattern so to save time I downloaded a free pattern from See Kate Sew.  I made a bib to match each t-shirt and invested in a tool from The Eternal Maker to add plastic snaps as I’m sure I’ll be making more of these.  I had a quick demonstration in the shop of how to use it but it turned out to be much easier than I expected and the snaps are very secure once they’re in.  I used a soft fleece type fabric for the reverse as I couldn’t find any suitable towelling.

In my rush to wrap everything up ready for our first visit when she was a whole week old I failed to take any photographs so these were taken after they were unwrapped and are not brilliant.  The farmyard fabric was from The Eternal Maker, the dinosaurs from C & H (although I can’t find the fabric online) and the cherries from Clothkits.

I was able to make a t-shirt and bib from half a metre of each and I still have some scraps left.

I had also been tempted by this fabric from The Eternal Maker.  In my excitement I’d failed to notice that it was very narrow and I didn’t have enough for a t-shirt.  Thankfully I found another free pattern for an incredibly cute hat.

This is a brilliant pattern – very quick to make and the brim is attached so the seam is hidden and the inside is nice and smooth against the baby’s head.  Obviously there had to be a matching dribble bib.  The hat is still a wee bit big for Baby J but hopefully she will soon grow into it!  Mind you, my mother said that about my school raincoat and it was still too big for me when I did my O Levels!

I can definitely recommend all these patterns and thanks to their creators for making them available for free.

There will be more small sewing.  I’m meeting up with Zoe and some other bloggers on the 29th and now have a very good excuse for buying more fabric!


Slight Adjustments

The major dietary changes here last year resulted in a lean and rather athletic Mr Jane Makes who ran his first ever 5K Park Run with no training or preparation and at the moment is beating his personal best each week.  He even runs to the park and back, although this last weekend I went to cheer him on so we only walked there very briskly.  In my view that assisted with his improved performance as he didn’t use up too much energy in advance!


I have visions of him following in Forest Gump’s footsteps and setting off to run for months – and growing a huge beard into the bargain!  He can also climb the Trundle at Goodwood on his bike with a good deal less effort than before.

A knock-on effect of his diet was me losing weight and discovering that none of my clothes fitted me apart from the ones that had become too tight in recent years but had so far avoided the charity shop.  Given everything else going on over the last few weeks/months I’ve not had much time for sewing so have been managing with a very limited wardrobe of quickly made skirts and dresses in a smaller size plus some charity shop finds.

I really didn’t want to part with a lot of my me-made clothes so I embarked on an alterations challenge.  I’ve quickly discovered I’m not that keen on alterations, at least not a whole pile of them in one go.  I’m pretty sure I could make a simple skirt in the time it takes me to faff around unpicking and resewing seams, facings, linings, hems etc.  One saving grace is that several of my skirts are from the same straight skirt pattern with a facing rather than a waistband so they have all been treated in exactly the same way with one inch being taken in on each side seam.  So far I’ve done these five.

I particularly wanted to rescue the one with the tree pattern as this was a vintage fabric find and I’d only worn the skirt once.  I’m not sure the other fabrics are still available and the striped linen is definitely too good to part with so they really needed saving.  My sewing standards have dipped slightly as I’ve gone along and none of the skirts are finished quite as neatly as they were originally but at least they are now wearable.

Here’s part of the remaining pile of skirts awaiting attention.


The majority of the rest are going to need a bit more attention as they either have waistbands, in-seam pockets or side zips and panels which will require a bit more of an effort.  It may be that some are destined for the charity shop.  I was hoping I’d be able to shrink the blue starfish print skirt to size.  I’d rushed ahead and made this one wihout pre-washing the fabric and then discovered just how much said fabric shrank after test washing a small piece of it.  I threw caution to the wind and put the finished skirt through the washing machine – it has shrunk, but not enough.

At the start of this challenge I did decide that once I’d completed five alterations I could make something new for the Spring, although I’ve just not been that motivated since losing my Dad in January.

I’m sure sewing with these sausage dogs would cheer me up but I’ve also acquired a half metre remnant of this lovely Sanderson curtain fabric for £10.  I believe it retails at around £60 a metre so it was quite a bargain.  It’s based on a 1950s wallpaper and I’d love to make a full skirt but with only half a metre I’m restricted to something less elaborate.  I’m particularly happy to see this fabric is made in the UK.

The fabric is washed and the pattern pinned onto it.  I’ve got a zip, thread, lining fabric and bias binding for the hem so there’s no excuse.  I’ve also made a new sewing resolution.  Each time I make a skirt I have to make a top that goes with it.  I make far too many random fabric purchases that I turn into skirts and then discover I have nothing to wear with them.  I’ve got some grey cotton fabric that will work well with the boats (and will also be used for the facings).  It was going to be a dress but I realised it had a tendency to crease quite badly and I don’t like a crumpled bottom which is inevitable if you’re sitting at a desk most of the day!

I’m off to Olympia on Saturday for the Knitting & Stitching Show with Sewing Su and Clarinda Kaleidoscope so there may be a few more random fabric purchases made!


Sewing Gifts

This is a very belated post for which I apologise, particularly to Sheila from Sewchet.  Sheila is the organiser of the annual #stitchingsanta gift swap which I have taken part in for two years running.

Just before Christmas I came home from work to find a ‘we tried to deliver a parcel’ card on the doormat.  Normally this would mean it had been returned to the main sorting office in Chichester but this time the card included a map of Fareham (a 40 minute drive away) and a bit of scribble I couldn’t read!  To cut a long story short I eventually tracked the parcel down to a post office counter in Chichester that I didn’t know existed within a Tesco Express!

Unfortunately Christmas had come and gone by then.  The final discovery of my parcel really did cheer me up after a less than happy Christmas, especially when I realised it was from Sheila herself!  What an honour!

The unwrapping of all the gifts took some time.  Here’s some of the parcels before I started.


And here’s everything I found inside!

The little felt robin is so sweet and will be saved until next Christmas along with the festive buttons and the beautiful quilted table runner.  When I finally get around to doing some proper sewing I’m looking forward to trying the pattern weights as I’ve never used these before.  Sheila also include a couple of patterns, a Liberty sewing book which has some great projects, a hand-covered notebook, a tissue holder (I always have tissues in my handbag so this is perfect) and some lovely fabric.  I’ve not measured it but I think there is enough for a little summer dress.

Last but most definitely not least were the mittens made from a recycled sweater.  These are fabulous and I’ve worn them a lot – I had to give them a quick press before I took this picture.  I love the little flower decoration.

Thank you so much Sheila, I really appreciated everything in my parcel!