Still Knitting The Jumper…And An Adapted Cowl Neck For The Sewaholic Renfrew

Happy New Year and yes I’m still knitting the jumper. The end is near, I have another 5 or 6cm to do on the sleeves and then it’s the roll neck and sewing up. I took the advice I was given and knitted the two sleeves at the same time. One set of needles, two balls of wool. Half way up the sleeves I swapped to slightly longer needles to cope with the width. 40cm instead of the 35cm I had been using. 5cm does make a bit of difference and they were only £2 to buy.


I have found that this jumper has taken over my life. I feel like I should be knitting now and not typing a post…. The sleeves have taken longer than anticipated, manly due to evenings out in the run up to Christmas and no knitting was done during Christmas week.

Knitting hasn’t left much time for sewing but I did manage to run up a Sewaholic Renfrew in November. I’ve made a few of these now but this time I wanted to alter the cowl neck line. I wanted more of a roll neck look. The neck line on the original pattern is quite wide and deep so I raised the neck line on both the centre front and back and extended the shoulder up closer to the neck. I had some polyester stretch fabric which I used for a toile, it took me a couple of tries to get it fitting how I wanted it to.

The collar piece isn’t quite a straight tube. The edge sewn to the neckline has a slight curve, just like the original pattern and the centre back seam slants outwards so the top width is slightly wider than the bottom width.

I really love the fabric and it was such a bargain. It is a wool mix, I bought it in Abakhan so I don’t know the exact fibre composition but I’m supposing it is mixed with polyester and I think there maybe some elastane in it. The piece I bought measured 2.20mts at 150wide and cost only £7.50 when weighed. It is a light weight rib construction, maybe referred to as a ‘sweater knit’ and it is seriously warm.

When doing some Christmas shopping I came across this thimble shaped desk tidy in John Lewis, I just had to have one!


So hopefully the  jumper will be finished in the next few weeks and I can get back to making myself some new clothes. I could do with some inspiration. I popped into John Lewis last week and was seriously disappointed with the fabric offering, in the past I’ve picked up some really bargains in the sales. I was hoping for some interesting prints  but there was nothing. Every other area in the shop was busy but the fabric and yarn department was dead.

The latest Boden catalogue has just come through the door and I really like the look of the printed trousers. The fabric is cotton with 3% elastane, I remember trying to find similar printed fabric in a trouser weight last year but didn’t have much luck so if anybody knows a source I’d be grateful. I have the pattern I made for these trousers which would be perfect. I also like the printed shirts and haven’t made myself a shirt for a while so maybe that’s where I should start.





Girl’s ‘Renfrew Style’ Cowl Neck Tee

A few weeks back when I was sewing the orange striped Sewaholic Renfrew my 8 year daughter saw the fabric and expressed an interest. I had fab some of the single jersey fabric left over so I said I’d make her a top and to which she added ‘with that neck bit’.

girls renfrew.jpg

Girls Renfrew style top using the Girl Skater Dress pattern


For the pattern I used the Kitschy coo girl skater dress as a base. I’ve made two of these dresses for my daughter, long sleeved in this great Russian doll print and a red spotted short sleeve one. The pattern only goes up to age 7/8 which is the size I used to make the dresses. The width of the dresses are still fine but I did add an extra 1cm to the width and dropped the underarm by 1cm. The bodice pattern for the dress only goes to the waist so I needed to add length. With the sleeve pattern I needed to drop the underarm point to match the changes to the bodice and add length.

adjusting pattern

Pattern adjustments


For the cowl pattern piece I measured the front and back neck and added together. For the depth of the cowl I made it 2/3 of the adult pattern piece and followed the shaping of the bottom edge.

I used the same banding technique for the cuffs and hem as the adults style.

It’s a great little top and I’m amazed that I got the two garments out of 1.8mts of fabric!

My only issue is that it is more polo neck than cowl neck. I left the front neck line as the original girl skater dress but to get a better cowl I should have scooped out the front neck more. It could have been a little bit longer in the body but I was limited by the  amount of fabric available. So a few pattern adjustments and it should be spot on for next time.

Just to add…we will not be wearing our tops at the same time in the same place, I’d think she’d like to but it’s not going to be happening!

Black Jeans – No Belt Required!

These are the 3rd pair of jeans I’ve made for myself using the pattern I made from following the Craftsy Jeanius course. I was really pleased with the make up of my second pair but the fit was not what I was hoping for, they were looser around the bottom and thigh than the first pair and I still had gaping at the back waist even after changing to a shaped waistband.

jeans front

Unfortunately black doesn’t photograph well and you can’t see much detail


I found that I had too much ease on the back leg creating horizontal wrinkles at the back of the thighs. I adjusted the pattern by cutting and slashing horizontally from the outer edge to the inner edge and taking out the excess, I did this in two places and took out around 2cm. I also took out another 1.5cm from the top edge of the waistband pattern – 3cm in total. I took this out from the back of the waistband only as that was where I needed the extra shaping.

jeans side

Before I cut the fabric I measured the pattern against the Levis I had originally copied. I found I needed to shave some of the width of the hips and thighs.

So the result-  I have finally made a pair of jeans with a great fit around the waist – no belt needed, perfect fit around the bottom and thighs and no stupid mistakes like cutting the inside leg just that tiny bit too short.

back waist on jeans

No gaping at the back waist!


After sewing up the inside leg seams I tacked the outer legs using a contrast thread and big machine stitch. They were very tight and I nearly wavered and let them out but I held firm knowing that they would loosen up.

I gave them the ultimate test and cycled to work in them and they were slightly tight on the front thigh when cycling  which was to be expected but other than that no problems.

I seemed to have the usual topstitching stresses, thread getting tangled at the start of stitching & tension problems but black on black is harder to unpick than orange on blue denim! I used the Gutermann extra strong as usual as even though the thread would be colour matched I wanted the thicker raised look. On this pair I only flat felled the back rise seam which I think is a must with cycling.

I found the fly slightly hard work this time. With the black sometimes I couldn’t see what was what.

fly openiing

slightly creased as I have been wearing a couple of days and just took them off to photo. The jeans zipper is from eBay, I’m not too impressed of it’s quality and will stick to the YKK ones in the future


The fabric was from eBay and was just the right weight at 10z. 98% cotton with 2% lycra at £6.99 metre.

I’m wearing it with a new Sewaholic Renfrew with a cowl neck which is exactly the same as this one I made last year but with a brighter stripe. The fabric was £4.95 a metre from Leon’s in Chorlton. It’s a straightforward easy make with all seams sewn on the overlocker.

My next make is for World Book Day, 3rd March. Luckily this year the school gave us a months notice to which I said to my children “don’t go telling me the week before that you want to be ….”. My daughter settled on Dorothy straight away and it’s me who’s been slow at doing anything. All items have arrived from eBay for the Dorothy outfit so I just need to get cracking and have it ready for next Thursday.

dorothy world book day

My 4 year old couldn’t make up his mind and rejected all my suggestions. So it’ll be Harry from ‘Harry and His Bucketful of Dinosaurs’ (again). We have a small bucket and we have dinosaurs.

Harry and his bucketful of  dinosaurs


‘Sewing for Summer’ Plan – Starting With A Couple Of Easy Tees

This year is really speeding along and summer is practically here. I have so much I’d like to make but not enough time. When I should be working I get out my notepad and scribble down sewing plans week by week. I’ve even done a typed template where I can get the satisfaction of crossing out what I’ve done in red pen.

Navy kimono tee and striped Renfrew

Navy kimono tee and striped Renfrew

I started with a couple of easy makes. A navy Maria of Denmark Kimono tee and a Sewaholic Renfrew.

The fabric for the tee was the same cotton / lycra single jersey remnant from Abakhan that I’d used for the bike bloomers. It’s a lovely weight with a slight brushed finish. This piece of fabric only cost £1.50.This is the 4th kimono tee I’ve made. My first was a grey marl one which was my first real attempt at sewing with knits properly. It still looks good after nearly 18 months and gets a lot of wear. That fabric was also a remnant from Abakhan. The second two haven’t been quite as good. The fabric was a single jersey from Calico Laine which after a few washes soon went limp, I still wear them occasionally but feel they are a little bit scruffy.

Navy Maria of Denmark Kimono tee

Navy Maria of Denmark Kimono tee

The single jersey for the Renfrew is a viscose / lycra  red and navy stripe from John Lewis, on sale reduced from £16 to £8 a metre. I used the V neck when I made a pyjama top last summer and trimmed with lace but this is the first time I’ve added the neck band to the V neck. I knew it would be a bit of a challenge and nearly went for the easy round neck version. I liked the effect of the stripes mitring at the centre but getting the shape of the V was a right faff. I stabilised the V with a small piece of stretch iron on interfacing then tacked and re-tacked numerous time until it looked ok. I got there in the end.

The front V on the Renfrew was a bit of a challenge.....

The front V on the Renfrew was a bit of a challenge…..

I sewed these two tops up together using the 4 thread overlocker. On the Kimono tee I got out the twin needle for the hems and surprisingly worked out ok, no tension issues for once.

I’m trying to be realistic about what I can get done and not plan too much in.

I have that lovely Hemingway Designs fabric to use, out of the 3 pieces I have I’m going to use the red print and make a shirtwaister dress. I googled for a pattern and the blogosphere came back with McCall’s M6696. I saw some great dresses so  didn’t bother to look any further.
Dolly Clackett
Polka Dot Girl

McCalls M6696 with Hemingway Designs fabric

McCalls M6696 with Hemingway Designs fabric

I was also inspired by this outfit in the Sunday Times Style mag a few weeks back. I just love that Marc Jacobs skirt. I started looking on line for some cotton twill in the right colour green. I could find forest, bottle, moss, khaki but none looked right so I bought white and a packet of Dylon in olive.  It could all go horribly wrong! I also picked up tangerine jersey for a top, now it’s arrived it’s not quite as vibrant as the top in the photo so it may get put to one side.

Marc Jacobs cotton twill skirt - a snip at £280

Marc Jacobs cotton twill skirt – a snip at £280

What’s next on the list for sewing up is a pair of bike trousers. I’ve been inspired by these Outlier Women’s Daily Riding Pants. The idea is that they don’t look like biking specific trousers but have features such as 4 way stretch and a water resistant finish. A lot of these type of trousers are made from schoeller fabric which is really expensive and not easily available to the home sewer.

This is the swatch of the soft shell fabric. When water hits the surface it doesn't soak in, it just rolls of the face, this is due to the WR (water resistant) finish on the fabric.

This is the swatch of the soft shell fabric. When water hits the surface it doesn’t soak in, it just rolls of the face, this is due to the WR (water resistant) finish on the fabric.

It’s generically know as ‘soft shell’ and I found some on UK fabrics online. I’ve ordered the fabric after getting a sample . I didn’t want to spend too much as I’m not sure how these are going to turn out. The plan is to slim down the leg on my jeans pattern – which looking at my sewing schedule I should have done by now. arggh I’m already behind!

sewing schedule - I like to do the crossing out in red pen.....

sewing schedule – I like to do the crossing out in red pen…..

A Stripy Sewaholic Cowl Neck Renfrew

When I was procrastinating over the shift dress I was planning, I needed a quick and easy make for distraction. I made up a long sleeved Sewaholic Renfrew with the cowl neck.  Back in the Autumn I’d made this version for the first time using black wool jersey.

I’m always on the lookout for good quality single jersey in knitted stripes – yarn dyed rather than printed. This fabric is 95% viscose 5% elastane. I had seen similar fabric on e-Bay but wasn’t sure what to expect as I usually go for cotton single jersey. When I saw this fabric in Leon’s in Chorlton for £4.99 a metre I thought I’d give it a go. It has a lovely slightly slinky hand feel and sews up just fine. I cut this top out one evening then stitched it up the next.

Sewaholic Cowl Neck Renfew in Viscose / Elastane

Sewaholic Cowl Neck Renfew in Viscose / Elastane

I used the 4 thread overlocker for everything except for stitching in the clear elastic at the shoulder seams and the zig-zag top stitching around the cowl neck.

As with the other times I’ve used the cowl neck pattern, I cut the whole cowl in one piece without the seam at the fold line.

There’s not too much to say about this top except that in the few weeks since it’s been made I’ve probably worn it the most out any other garment. It goes really well with the dark red ponte skirt I made last November. When I finished that skirt I wasn’t quite sure about it but that has also had so much wear but the cheap quality of the fabric is beginning to show and it’s looking quite bobbly.

March is going to be spent working on jeans. I’m getting into the Craftsy Jeanius course and the pattern has been made and toile sewn up. So far so good, and the denim arrived today and has already had a pre-wash. Let’s hope I can keep up the enthusiasm.


RTW Fast 2014 – Achieved! (and stuff I made in 2014)


2014 is over and it’s the end of the RTW Fast 2014 (Ready To Wear). I’m confident to say that I achieved the goal of avoiding buying any ready to wear clothes in 2014.

I will come clean, there was one item I did buy, a pair of waterproof reflective cycling over trousers from Aldi for my commute to work. I think these can be excused as they were something I couldn’t have made myself and in the couple of weeks before Christmas were definitely needed. So I reckon that these don’t count.

I found it quite easy to avoid shopping, since having children & less money (due to having children) I don’t often get the chance. It did make me focus on what I really needed in my wardrobe. If I hadn’t been on the fast I’d have bought some new jeans at the beginning of the year as my current two pairs are a bit scruffy but this pushed me towards wearing more skirts and dresses.

There isn’t an official RTW Fast 2015 so I’ll see how long I can go on.

Did I save money?
This wasn’t the main incentive but it would be interesting to know. Roughly totting up what I’ve spent making the items just for me and not including socks I’ve spent about £190. Add to that about £40 on patterns, Coco and Renfew patterns are a large chunk of that but I know that these will be used again and again. So I think I probably did save money. Some pieces were real bargains like this black wool Renfrew with fabric at £4 per metre at the other end of the scale was the Coco where I paid over £17 a metre along with an expensive pattern.

Sewing in 2014
The fast pushed me into making clothes I really needed and in 2014 I managed to make myself 14 items of clothing and knitted myself 3 pairs of socks. This included 3 shirts, 3 dresses, 2 skirts & 6 jersey tees / tops.

I also made 2 items for the children and during May I made 4 bridesmaid dresses, that was one stressful month!

4 bridesmaid dresses - hard work but they looked great finished

4 bridesmaid dresses – hard work but they looked great finished

The overall winners have got to be the 3 dresses, the lady skater, the Lucian Day dress & the Lady skater with the Renfrew cowl. I made the striped Lady skater too late in the summer for it to get much wear but it’s something I know will get a lot of wear next year.

from left to right: Lady Skater dress, Luciene Day dress, Lady Skater with Renfrew Cowl

from left to right: Lady Skater dress, Luciene Day dress, Lady Skater with Renfrew Cowl

There’s no real losers but if I had to pick it would be the red and black Maria of Denmark Kimono tees and the polka dot Renfrew. The issue with all 3 is that the quality of the fabric let them down. The Kimono tees looked saggy after a few washes. The grey tee I made last year still looks fine, as the fabric was a sturdier cotton jersey. The fabric I used for the Renfrew faded really quickly which was a real disappointment.

I was also a bit unsure of the ponte roma skirt when I finished it at the end of November but it’s turned out a surprise hit. It looks great with the black Renfrew and the grey tee. I took it away with me on a business trip and the fabric was great, no creasing.

I am completely converted to hand knitted socks, I still have some shop bought ones but I hardly ever wear them. Hand knitted are more expensive but they will last so much longer. I seem to be relying on self patterning yarn for interest rather than knitting a pattern. I think I need to stretch myself a bit but I can see the love of self patterning yarn continuing. Actually my favourite pair of 2014 were these plain grey socks with the contrast heel and toe.

Hermione's Everyday Socks, toe up with a short row heel

Hermione’s Everyday Socks, toe up with a short row heel

Sewing for 2015……
After all of this year’s makes my wardrobe is looking quite healthy so I don’t feel the need to put myself under too much pressure to get sewing. One thing I’d like to get to grips with are trousers. I’ve recently bought the Craftsy ‘Jeanius’ course and I’m going to tackle copying my Levi’s. I’m a bit apprehensive about this, I really hope they are a success or else it’ll be the thing to break my fast!

Many thanks for reading during 2014, I love being part of the blogging community and keeping up with what you are all making  – Happy 2015 🙂





Kitschy Coo Lady Skater with a Sewaholic Renfrew Cowl

When I made my first Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress back in the summer I raved about it. I just loved the styling and the fit. So there had to be long sleeved winter version and it came to me to add the cowl neckline from the Sewaholic Renfrew.

Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress With A Sewaholic Renfrew Cowl Neck

Kitschy Coo Lady Skater Dress With A Sewaholic Renfrew Cowl Neck

I love this dress just as much, or even more than my summer version.

The fabric is from Plush Addict, a polka dot ponte Roma. £9.50 per metre and I used 2mts for this dress. The fibre content is 75% polyester, 20% viscose and 5% spandex. This is the first time I have used a ponte roma fabric and I really enjoyed sewing with it and no bother to cut out.

To add the Sewaholic cowl you need to adjust the front and back bodice pattern pieces from the lady skater. The Renfrew has longer shoulders fitting closer to the neck and the back neck drop (the scoop of the back neck) is shallower. I placed my lady skater bodice pattern on the fabric and laid the Renfrew bodice on top – I matched the centre front seam and outer shoulder point and you’ll notice that the depth of the scoop neck is the same on each pattern. I chalked in the extra shoulder length and chalked in the sides of the neck scoop and back neck drop as necessary.

Sewaholic Renfrew cowl on a Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress

Sewaholic Renfrew cowl on a Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress

I cut the cowl all in one as I did on the Renfrew Cowl neck top, it’s a massive pattern piece and I only just managed to fit it into my fabric layout.

I added an extra inch to the skirt length, which now looking at the photo, I don’t think was necessary but it doesn’t trouble me enough to shorten the skirt.

I used my standard machine for attaching the clear elastic at the shoulders and waistline (I do this with a zig zag stitch and using a Teflon foot have no problems) and also for attaching the skirt pieces to the front and back bodice, using a stretch stitch and ball point needle. I also used it for the zig-zag topstitching around the neck line. All other seams were sewn on the 4 thread overlocker which makes it a really quick job.

I fell out of love with using the twin needle for the hem a while back and have since found other stretch stitches on the machine which do the job just as well or even better. This stitch took an age to sew around the hem but looks good.

Hem stitching on Lady Skater dress

Hem stitching on Lady Skater dress

This dress is a definite success and I can see it getting lots of wear over the winter.
I’m still going to rave about the Kitschy Coo Lady Skater dress as I think it is such a great pattern.