Making A Copy Of A Boden Tee

red stripe tee

When I was recently sorting though my fabrics I found I still had a piece of red and white stripe jersey left over from making a skater dress a couple of years ago. Just enough to make a tee shirt. Since I gave up the RTW Fast last September I have bought 3 long sleeve and one short sleeve Breton tees from Boden. I really like the fit of these as they are slightly relaxed and not too skinny.

So instead of reaching for my Sewaholic Renfrew pattern I thought I’d take a pattern from the short sleeve version.

I measured the original tee across the shoulders, bust, waist and hem, noting the depth of the armhole and the front and back neck scoops. To make sure I got the shape of the sleeve head and armhole correct I used wax paper and tracing wheel.

red striped tee pattern (1824 x 1368)

striped tee sleeve pattern (1824 x 1368)

Using wax paper and tracing wheel to get the shape of the sleeve head correct.


It’s a simple tee but made with methods I hadn’t used before. The back and front necklines are finished separately. The back has a 1cm wide non stretch herringbone tape and the front is finished with a 1cm self fabric binding. Once these are done the shoulder seams are then sewn together.

neck binding for stripy tee (1824 x 1368)

the front neckline with 1cm wide self fabric binding  – you can see where I am using the wonder tape to hold the fabric in position before sewing.


The body and sleeve hems are sewn with a twin needle. I hadn’t done this for a while as I find the results can be a bit hit and miss, this is why I like the Renfrew with the banded hems.

Before I started sewing this I read thought my copy of ‘The Colette Guide To Sewing Knits’ to pick up some tips. The book recommends using ‘Collins washaway wonder tape’ to stabilise areas before sewing. It is a bit like double sided sticky tape and you can sew through it without it gumming up your needle and it disappears at the first wash. I bought a roll of it on eBay.

I used it at both the front and back neck and the sleeve hems. It really helped and would recommend it.

I didn’t run this up on the overlocker like a would a normal tee. The shoulders needed sewing together really carefully to make sure the seams met perfectly at the neck edge and that the chevrons created at the shoulder seam with the stripes matched. So I used the stretch stitch on the machine and used the overlocker just for finishing the seams. I forgot how slow going and noisy the stretch stitch on a normal machine was!

shoulder seam

Accuracy required for the shoulder seams. Arrgh! just spotted an untrimmed thread at the neck edge.


The twin needle stitching for the hems didn’t give me as much trouble as I was expecting. I used the wonder tape on the sleeve hems but decided against it on the body hem as I thought I’d give it a go without wasting a metre of tape. It worked out fine.

Even though it’s just a tee I was really pleased with the results, it fits just like the RTW one and there is something about the pitch of the sleeves I really like.

Unfortunately this did take me weeks to make. I started towards the end of May. Seriously, I would pin the shoulders one evening, then a few days later tack the seams, then sew them an on an on for 6 weeks! I was going away with work for 10 days in June and thought I’d have it done in time but I just couldn’t get my act together. Then I got back and slumped in to a Brexit gloom made worse by being overloaded in the day job and coming home and instead of sewing having to get out the work laptop. But anyway, this week I tackled it and got the tee finished.

My next project is a denim dress I’ve been wanting to make for months, I just need to get back into the swing of things. 🙂


Slim Leg Trousers Adapted From the Jeans Pattern


Last week I posted on how I altered my Jeans pattern to make a pair of smart trousers. Sewing up without the  yoke and contrast top stitching makes for an easier construction. I still had some challenging moments though.

slim leg trousers

In this photo the leg lengths look slightly different but I promise you that they are the same length.


I had sampled the welt pocket complete with pocket bag and it worked out fine but when it came to the real thing I cocked up! For some silly reason I cut the patch of fabric used to make the welts way too small and didn’t realise this until I had sewn them on and cut the pocket opening,  on both back pieces, gah! There was nothing else to do except set to work with the task light and unpicker. Luckily I’d interfaced the opening on the main body piece which gave it stability and finally I stitched the pocket opening closed with a zig-zag  and started again.

unpicking the welts

carefully unpicking the welts…..


welt pocket fixing

stitching the opening up like Frankenstein’s forehead. I had to make the welts bigger the second time to cover all the stitching holes.


Second time I had much more success but instead of a double welt I opted for a single welt. For making the welts I follow the same method as for a bound buttonhole – when having a double welt but a single welt was just the case of folding it differently. I also checked out the tutorial on the Thread Theory website for help with the pocket bag.

slim leg trousers from back

I chose not to put a button on my welts but next time I think I will do as the opening does pull downwards slightly, this is why you definitely need a self fabric facing inside.


I spent a while looking for suitable fabrics online. I was after chino type fabric but with stretch, I couldn’t find exactly what I was after, if anyone knows a source please pass on.

The fabric I used was from I chose a cotton satin stretch (97% cotton 3% spandex) which has a bit of a sheen and was slightly lighter than I anticipated. This was £12.95 per metre. There is quite a wide choice of fabric on this website but it’s not the cheapest and I find the £4.80 postage a bit steep. But since ordering I have received an e-mail for £8 off my next order if I spend £25. They also have a stretch twill which I got a sample of and it is heavier than the satin so this would be my choice if I were to make another pair – this could be the chino type fabric I was originally looking for.

Creating this pattern from the Jeans pattern has worked well and again with the shaped waistband I’m getting a really good fit with no gaping at the back. But I think I could add a little bit of width into the thighs.

front trouser open

I used a lightweight cotton gingham for the pocket bags and I bound the lower edge of the waistband with a contrast bias binding.


After years of not attempting to make trousers I’m really pleased with what I’m stitching up. I felt quite satisfied hanging these up in the wardrobe. The only issue is that I haven’t worn them yet, with cycling to work I’m finding that my trousers all have a horseshoe shaped faded saddle mark on the bottom, which I don’t mind too much on jeans but I wouldn’t want on these. I suppose the best thing would be to change into them when I get to work ….and I just need to be bothered to do that.

Is there anything that you have put off sewing but then found that with a bit of research and a lot of patience you got there in the end? 🙂



Adjusting The Jeans Pattern Into Smart Trousers

I’ve been wanting to make some smart trousers for a while now, I bought Simplicity 1696 Perfect fit about 18 months ago. Every so often I take the pattern out then decided it all looks too complicated and put it back.

After I finished my black jeans I re-traced the pattern and was left with the pieced together and scribbled on original pattern. Instead of throwing it away I thought I’d have a go at changing it into a pair of smart trousers.

I started with the back pieces and trimmed the seam allowance from the lower edge of the yoke and the top edge of the main back piece.

pattern back 1 (1824 x 1368)

To join the two edges together I needed to cut and open the yoke in 3 places. This gave me 3 small darts which in total measured 2.2cm.

I turned this into 2 darts. The position of the welt pocket followed the line of the top of the original pocket position.

pattern back 2(1824 x 1368)

Then on to the front. All that needed doing here was to draw on the new pocket shaping. I started by adding back in the pocket corner then drawing on a slanted pocket opening, new shape pocket corner, pocket bag and a facing for the pocket opening. Then traced the new pieces off adding seam allowances.

pattern front (1824 x 1368)

Finally I made a mock up of the back welt pocket with the darts above it to make sure it was going to work.

test welt pocket (1824 x 1368)

Test welt pocket

I didn’t make pattern pieces for the welt pocket and bag and just cut the shapes when I needed them.

It was a really easy process to alter the pattern. I’ve now made up the trousers and will do a separate post on sewing up 🙂


Marc Jacobs Inspired ‘A’ Line Utility Cotton Drill Skirt

I really fell for this Marc Jacobs skirt when I saw it in the Sunday Times Style magazine a few weeks back so I thought I’d have a go at my own version. I have to say I am pretty pleased at how it has turned out. My skirt doesn’t quite have the same proportions, mainly due to my mistake of not ordering enough fabric. I though 1.2mt would be OK but I underestimated how wide the panels were. I spent nearly a whole evening just looking at the pattern on the fabric and trying to work out the best thing to do! But I got there in the end.

My version of a Marc Jacobs twill skirt

My version of a Marc Jacobs twill skirt

I was searching for just the right colour green in cotton drill but couldn’t find it so I bought white from myfabrics and use a Dylon machine dye in olive. (I like the way the dye now includes salt). I think I got closer to what I wanted than buying ‘Moss’ or ‘Forest’ but not sure it was worth the extra cost of the dye.

Marc Jacobs cotton twill skirt - a snip at £280

Marc Jacobs cotton twill skirt – a snip at £280

The pattern is quite simple, drafted from the Winifred Aldrich skirt block. The darts are closed to add flare. After making a toile I needed to cut up the middle of the panel and add in 8cm at the hem for extra width. The grainline is placed up the centre of the panel and not the centre front or back. This improves the drape. When wrestling with the pattern layout this was one thing I didn’t want to compromise.

Winifred Aldrich 4 gored skirt pattern

Winifred Aldrich 4 gored skirt pattern

For the bellowed pocket I used a piece of A4 paper and pinched a dart in the corner to get the desired effect. I then laid this onto the skirt pattern to get the shaping of the side seam and waist.

You have two pockets at the side seam, one for your hands and one with a flap. I made up the construction of these as I went along. The hand pocket is constructed with a front and back pocket bag then the bellowed pocket was added to the top.

showing the two side pockets

showing the two side pockets

I was trying to think of a way not having to use as many layers. It wasn’t until after I’d finished the pocket I thought that what I could do is make the hand pocket back smaller than the bellow pocket and stitch just one layer to the skirt, the stitching on the front of the skirt would then be hidden by the bellow pocket.

Front and back of the pocket area

Front and back of the pocket area

I would say that the fly zipper was the best so far! The only problem is with the size of the zip puller. It wasn’t until I’d finished that I realized it’s a big bit and sticks out. I bought this zip which is 15cm and a 13cm one at the same time, the 13cm zipper puller is much smaller. It does annoy me a bit and it’s the first thing I see when I look at the skirt!

The hem is finished with a wide bias bind tape. I had originally planned to use self fabric facing. When I cut out I left an amount which I thought would do but then I realized that there wasn’t enough for the waist band and hem facings. The waistband was more important – and that still needed a seam in the centre back to get a piece long enough.

Using the bias tape worked really well, I slightly stretched on so the smaller top edge fitted with out any tucks etc.

I had to top stitch from the front for the hem so to make sure I didn’t miss the fabric underneath I stitched first on the wrong side using contrast thread and the biggest stitch. Then just pulled out the contrast thread when I had stitched the two rows of hem stitching.

Wide bias binding at hem

Wide bias binding at hem

I top stitched using the Gutterman extra strong thread rather than the topstitch thread. I find this works for me better and gives a similar look. It’s not all plain sailing as there was the usual tangling up of bobbin thread I always experience with topstitching.

This is now my new favorite skirt. I really love the shape of how the cotton drill hangs.
I can see me making another version but next time I’ll buy more fabric as I think a little extra width could be added to the panels and I think the pocket bags could do with another couple of inches in depth.mj skirt side on

I did also pick up a remnant of tangerine cotton jersey with plans to make a tee, I’m not quite 100% sure about this yet, I’m just worried it’s too bright.

I don’t think there’ll be any more sewing in June as I’m off on a work trip from Monday. I’ve got a long flight so I’m planning to finish a pair of socks that I started back in February. I’m 1/3 the way through sock number two but it’s slow going…….

Ponte Roma Soft Pleat Skirt

After the success of the ponte roma lady skater dress I ordered more ponte fabric to make a skirt. The plan was to make a skirt to wear with the bird print shirt which so far has only been worn once as I felt I didn’t have the right thing to wear with I but I’m not sure I’ve successfully fulfilled my brief.

Ponte Roma Pleated Skirt

Ponte Roma Pleated Skirt

When I ordered the fabric I shyed away from getting a bright red and played safe and went for a wine colour. The fabric was from The Textile Centre on e-Bay at £3.49 per metre.

I really liked the fabric when it arrived, it has lovely drape but it’s a funny thing. When I’m looking at the fabric and finished skirt I like it but when I’m thinking about it I think it looks a bit cheap and synthetic, so I go back and take a look and realise it looks fine. Does anybody else get those doubts about fabrics?

I used a self drafted pattern that I made earlier this year for this denim skirt. It’s quite a simple draft which I wrote about in this post. The denim version of this skirt has had loads of wear since it has been made.

The pattern works fine for both wovens and knits but I did find the ponte roma gave a lot more bulk around the pocket bags and the top of the pleats.

tonal decorative stitch around the pocket openings and waistband seam

tonal decorative stitch around the pocket openings and waistband seam

I didn’t think that this fabric was going give a nice top stitch so I  tried a decorative stitch using a tonal thread and was pleasantly pleased with the results. I used this for the pocket openings and the lower edge of the waistband. I thought adding to the top edge of the waistband would be too much so after pressing the seam allowance I understitched it with a zig zag stitch.

zig-zag understitching at the inner waistband

zig-zag understitching at the inner waistband

I didn’t have an invisible zipper to hand so I used a normal zipper and ‘double lapped’ it , if that’s the term. I did this by sewing the seam where the zipper would be with the biggest straight stitch, then pinned the zipper in place and stitched it in then unpicked the stitches from the seam.

I was a bit unsure how to handle the waistband, I used knit interfacing on one side but on the other to prevent too much stretch I used a narrow strip of normal fusible interfacing along the seam line.

The vertical seams were sewn with a standard straight stitch and I used the stretch stitch for the horizontal waistband seams and all using a ball point needle.

I overlocked the bottom edge of the skirt and hand stitched up a 2.5cm deep hem. But I need to do it again. When I was taking photos I took one of the back view and it was only then I noticed the centre back hem was about 2cm shorter than the front. So, I need to unpick and even the hem off properly this time. It’s not too much of a disaster but I will have to loose a little bit of length from the front. That’s what you get for rushing the hem and being too gung ho with the scissors.

back of the skirt - without showing the terrible hem issue!

back of the skirt – without showing the terrible hem issue!

Looking at the photos of the skirt it looks much better than I think it does. As I say though, I’m not sure if I’ve made the perfect garment to accompany the shirt.

But hey! I now have a rotary cutter and A1 sized self healing mat and this was the first time I used them. I also managed to draw blood the first time I used it, only a tiny nick, that blade is really sharp!

rotary blade with self healing mat along with soup tins for weights

rotary blade with self healing mat along with soup tins for weights


Drafting The Cap Sleeve Bodice

To draft the pattern for the Lucienne Day cap sleeve dress I made last month I started with the basic bodice and sleeve block.

cap sleeve bodice with boat neck and waist dart

cap sleeve bodice with boat neck and waist dart

I have drafted my own from the Winifred Aldrich Metric Pattern Cutting book but blocks in standard sizes are available to buy either as actual patterns or downloads. I haven’t used these myself but I have seen these Laura Marsh blocks recommended.


front bodice draft

front bodice draft


back bodice draft

back bodice draft


sleeve draft

sleeve draft


adding the cap sleeve pieces to the bodice

adding the cap sleeve pieces to the bodice


final pattern pieces

final pattern piece

I lined the bodice which used exactly the same pattern as the main body.
The skirt of the dress was a rectangle cut the full width of the fabric.

Hope the diagrams are clear!
I don’t have illustrator at home so I’m managing to cobble these together on Excel and faffing about saving as a pdf then saving as a jpeg……but got there in the end.  I just need to work out how to get the text looking the same size, it was the same at the beginning of the process, honest 🙂

Drafting The Soft Pleat Skirt

To draft the pattern for the denim soft pleat skirt I made last week I started with the basic skirt block.

I have drafted my own from the Winifred Aldrich Metric Pattern Cutting book but blocks in standard sizes are available to buy either as actual patterns or downloads. I haven’t used these myself but I have seen these Laura Marsh blocks recommended.

To draft my patterns I use spot and cross paper that I buy on the roll from Eastman Staples. When I bought mine a couple of years ago I think I paid £30 for 100mts. The roll initially is a bit heavy and 100mts sounds a lot but I store it in the wardrobe and it doesn’t take up much space. I had been using the Hemline squared paper that you can buy in packets. I found it is too thick to trace through, it has creases which need to be ironed out and the sheets are never big enough! Also when you want to use quite a bit it can become expensive. Metre for metre buying a roll is more economical. You can also find it for sale in smaller quantities on Amazon or eBay.

After tracing the skirt block I added on my style lines.

traced skirt block with style lines added

traced skirt block with style lines added

waistband pattern pieces

waistband pattern pieces

front & back pattern pieces opened to allow for pleats

front & back pattern pieces opened to allow for pleats

I drew the shape of the pocket pattern pieces on to the front skirt and traced off. 3 pieces in total. I added a grain line before I traced off to ensure I kept the correct grain on the individual pieces

I drew the shape of the pocket pattern pieces on to the front skirt and traced off. 3 pieces in total. I added a grain line before I traced off to ensure I kept the correct grain on the individual pieces. After I made the toile I realised I needed to make the pocket wider and deeper. One thing to make sure is that your top corner piece in main fabric is deep enough so that the lower edge of it is well concealed into the pocket.

I only had enough fabric to use one width for the front and back skirt, 150cm in total so the width of my pleats were limited. I had bough 70cm of fabric thinking it would be plenty for what I wanted, as you can see it was quite a tight layout! I definitely needed to use a contrast fabric for the inner waistband and pocket bags.

70cm of fabric was cutting it a bit fine.

70cm of fabric was cutting it a bit fine.

On the left is my 'working pattern' and on the right is my traced off pattern

On the left is my ‘working pattern’ and on the right is my traced off pattern

Once the pattern was finished with added on seam allowances I re-traced it adding all the info needed.
pattern name
Pattern piece name
Cutting information  (cut to fold / one pair / contrast / interfacing etc)

I also notched the hip line on the front and back and placed a notch in the cb seam for the zipper opening.

Then put it in an A5 envelope, again with all details including yardage, pattern pieces and trims along with a front and back sketch.

Pattern envelope with details

Pattern envelope with details

A long, long time ago back in college we used to have to stencil all the info onto our patterns and envelopes, it must have taken ages but I do remember enjoying it 🙂