Thursday, 31 July 2014

Hudson pants

Hudson trousers just doesn't sound quite the same, does it?

So, I don't think these need much in the way of introduction! The first pattern from Kelli at True Bias, these stylish trackpants seem to have taken the sewing world by storm. Or my corner of it, at least - the corner full of women who've had children, wondered where their style went, and then wondered how the hell to get it back again while basically wearing pyjamas as much of the time as possible.

Guys. These are not even secret pyjamas. They're like stealth pyjamas. Nobody expects sweatpants as properly acceptable out-of-the-house-wear, but here they are - hidden in plain sight!

And so easy and satisfying to make, too!

This is some navy lightweight sweatshirting from the Maison Doree in Brussels - on sale at the bargainous price of € 2.50 a metre, which I was overjoyed about as I'd been mightily disappointed to miss it when the roll mysteriously disappeared somewhere in early spring. Turns out it had been removed and then deeply discounted later because there are some little holes in odd bits of the fabric - which I only found out after I got it home.  NOT OK people! Mark it as damaged even if you are selling it off cheap! Fortunately it wasn't too difficult to cut round them, but I'm of a mind to go in and mention it next time I'm there. We'll see.

The red drawstring cord idea came from seeing Heather's lovely neon contrast version (see it here), and also because red white and blue. To me there's something so USA about these! It must just be the name - I'm now itching to go to New York again. Without kids. With a big fabric budget. Might take some planning...

Final detail: the pocket contrast is just the fabric's reverse side.  Mmmmmm... pockets.

There will be more of these. I'm thinking a full-length plain black pair for autumn/winter. Or in fact several, then I need never wear anything else.

Have you made your own Hudson pants yet? If not, are you tempted?  I highly recommend :-)


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Summer swimmers OMG OMG OMG!

Sun, sand...

Feet (mine)

... sea, surf....

Son and sister (also mine)

No prizes for guessing where this is going!


Let's play "Insert your favourite Bombshell blogger cliché here": OMG I made a swimming costume! OMG it totally wasn't as hard as I thought! OMG Heather Lou is a genius! OMG this is the simultaneously the most covered and most sexy I have felt in any swimwear ever and OMG it beats the pants off literally everything to be found in any shop anywhere!

Delete as appropriate: NO NOT DELETING ANYTHING IT's ALL TRUE.

Fully water tested at one temperature extreme in a hot tub (family holiday fun!) - and, at the other, in the North Sea.  Yes, I swam after we took these pictures.  It was... refreshing. The suit holds up really well when wet, despite the enormous amount of fabric it contains, and although I have to admit I was sceptical about the actual swim support it'd give, it was fine. Which is not insignificant - my small back-band and large cup bra-size combination means that I have never in my life been able to find a satisfactorily wearable bikini/swimsuit. And, while wearing this does not feel as 'solid' as wearing an actual bra, it's nonetheless feels pretty darn safe.  In turn rather impressive, as to achieve this I only made a couple of tiny adjustments to the pattern.  For those who're interested,  the lowdown is below.

But in the meantime.


  • Pattern: Bombshell duh, size 38 (I think. Maybe it was 40. Anyway: straight up, no FBA or grading between sizes).
  • Fabric outer: cotton/elastane from the Chien Vert. Fairly heavyweight for swim fabric - my only complaint about this suit is that because of this, it dries slowly. But, the stripes make me think of ice cream, which is good.
  • Fabric inner: cheap-as-chips matte lycra from Berger.
  • Swim elastic: I ordered some from Fabricland UK (bad website but great phone service) and it was really good quality. However, I am an idiot and didn't order enough. To compare, I got some more from Lijfgoed (in Holland). Sadly this was much flimsier and broke easily. Particularly if you want to stretch your elastic to prevent gaping, I wouldn't recommend it.

:: :: ::

What I did: tips for adding support if you too are blessed with large bosoms

Heather Lou mentions in the sewalong (here) a couple of ways to add support, one of which is to sew a strapless bra to the inside front at the side seams, hanging 'free' and next to your skin under both layers of the swimsuit itself.  However, I didn't want the extra layer of bra fabric, and I didn't want the bra itself to be visible - I wanted it hidden between the lining and outer. I also didn't want to go and buy a strapless bra specifically in order to cut it up (plus, I've never liked them anyway, so).

Attempts to just add a line of elastic under the bust quickly demonstrated that this would not keep the girls where they needed to be, so in the end I took the scissors to an old bra - in the process fully vindicating my hoarding of all old items of clothing, worn to death or not, in case they ever come in handy. IT WAS HANDY so take THAT obsessive-clear-outer husband!

Um, anyway - so I turned the suit inside out and sewed the bra's side elastic to the side seams (I'd already cut off the back straps). The middle of the bra was left hanging loose between the lining and the outer, but at the very end I stitched through the centre part when I sewed down the tab over the bust ruching. This keeps everything exactly in place where it needs to be.  For the bust ruching itself I had extended the gathering line by about an inch, to make sure the ruching ended up between my bosoms rather than sitting on top of them. And that was it! Here are some (badly lit, indoor) pics in case it's helpful.

Overall placement - I put the suit on and wriggled till I'd got it about right.

Sewed on at the side seams. After finishing the top edge, the bust-ruching tab holds everything in place at centre front.

Does that all make sense?? Comment or shoot me an email if not!  Hope it helps, fellow busty ones :-)


Monday, 7 July 2014

La robe Lucie jumps the queue

I've always liked my collar bones as an anatomical feature.  Add piping and an interesting shoulder detail, and I'm sold.

This pattern was not part of the sewing plan (like there's a plan. Ha!)  It's also not what I intended for this rather gorgeous lightweight denim interwoven with yellow.

But when I saw the robe Lucie on - who else? - Jolies Bobines, I had to do it. Immediately!  I have been lusting over this shape of oversized, gathered-skirt dress on Pinterest for at least a year, all along wondering if I could be bothered to hack it myself.  Well, I guess good things come to those who procrastinate - now Republique du Chiffon has drafted it for me, and impeccably so.

Now, it's immediately obvious that I added some length to the short skirt: 12cm, to be precise.  (Also obvious: my face was not really up for photos yesterday morning. Apologies.)  Looking at these pictures, it definitely could stand to be shorter, even with my slightly chubby upper legs.

However, as it is, just above knee-length, this dress is absolutely perfect summer daywear.  What I couldn't get the camera to grasp, struggling as I do with the tripod and self-timer, is how flattering this dress actually is in person. It hangs wide - the light denim fabric, while recommended for the pattern, is stiffer than all the samples I've seen so far - but the oversized shape both looks and indeed IS breezily, casually stylish.

And I LOVE the low back.  It does gape ever so slightly, and I think for my next version I'll size down in the bodice and do an FBA (no-dart version, natch) which'll probably deal with that. But straight off the printer, the fit is nigh on perfect, which left me to happily concentrate on the pattern's lovely little details.  The piping at the shoulders is self-made from some scraps of grey linen, and I also made the bias from self-fabric to bind the neckline & armholes. The label is a scrap of coarse ribbon and I really like the textural elements these all give. No-one else will notice, but I'll know :-)  And then I edge-stitched and top-stitched the bindings and waist seam to give it a kind of jeans-light look, stopping and starting before and after the piping - it was all pretty bulky, and the contrast thread would have looked awful anyway.

And there you have it - a quickly, happily made and entirely unplanned dress that came from nowhere and swept to the front of the queue, on to the blog, and all without so much as a do-you-please to either my finished, unblogged makes or the many ideas-in-waiting.  La robe Lucie is, in fact, just like the best and most imperious of French ladies.

(If you've ever been in a queuing showdown with one, I suspect you'll know what I mean).


Thursday, 3 July 2014

School's Out maxi skirt

The teachers are freed tomorrow!

Yes, end-of-year show yesterday, reports today, and then just one more morning to go - with all this week's school-related busyness and pre-summer holiday gift-giving, it's hardly surprising that teachers were on my mind as I photographed this skirt.

Though specifically, actually, it was art teachers.

Perhaps it's the pompom trimmed hem or simply the colourful, swirly swishyness of the whole thing, but yes, I think of this as an art teacher skirt - in a fantastically comfortable, utterly lovely and I-don't-care-how-stylish-anyone-else-thinks-it-is kind of way.  An initial measurements fail led to a lovely, tidy but HUGELY too big waistband with invisible zip, so after some highly frustrating seam ripping it's ended up with a yoga-style knit waistband. FYI guys: yoga-style knit waistband + legs draped in rayon challis = BEST SKIRT EVER.

Yes, rayon challis.  Now I know what the fuss is about - this stuff is pure gorgeousness. It's Sinister Swarm from Anna Maria Horner's Field Study range, which I have long coveted and to my total astonishment managed to WIN in a rather generous giveaway by Jane at Pelly Melly. THANK YOU Jane!!

Which brings me to the other reason that teachers were on my mind this morning. Because as I was taking my photos, I remembered that Jane is a French teacher.  And not only do I owe Jane herself a massive thanks for getting rid of this beautiful fabric, I also owe a huge amount of gratitude, and in fact a great deal more in life too, to French teachers in general.

My secondary school French teacher was Mrs Harrison, a woman with the no doubt generally unrewarding task of getting English girls to learn foreign words, and who was probably therefore rather pleased to recognise both an aptitude and enthusiasm for languages in the incredibly shy 11 year-old that was me. For the next four years, until she went on maternity leave, she kindly, gently encouraged me, and in the process set me up with probably the most useful life-skill I have. (It's also my favourite. Truthfully: French even beats sewing).

One of the things Mrs Harrison told me was that when she was learning, she used to try to think in French, because once you can do that, you know you've got it.  So I spent almost all of my teenage years persistently translating my own thoughts as I was having them (did anyone else notice, I wonder?), all along knowing that at some point I'd "get it" too.  I didn't study languages at university, but I did know that once I'd graduated I'd be going to live in France for a year to become really, truly fluent.  The frenchifying of my thoughts turned into daydreams of a garret flat with shutters in Paris, plus a sexy French boyfriend-with-Vespa and a convenient family home with swimming pool in Provence or the Pyrenees. All soundtracked by Air and Daft Punk, of course.

When it came to the practicalities, it turned out that France was not my destiny. Native English-speaking admin staff were (and still are) in high demand in Brussels, and if my colleagues were ever-so-slightly put out that I refused to speak a word of my mother tongue with them, it never showed. They corrected my blunders until eventually, finally, I got there - and never looked back.

Then I met and later married a Flemish man, and accidentally learned to speak Dutch too. The year in France turned into 15 years (and counting) in Belgium, and to be honest, I don't think a be-stubbled French bloke on a moto would have suited me really anyway.

So, these are the entirely untranslated thoughts in my head when I think about this skirt. A little detour from the sewing - let's call it the scenic route around this post, and my little ode to those here who have one day left until their eight well-deserved weeks of holiday.

Back in the gritty reality, we also have this going on:

My first ever foray into bra-making territory!  Drum roll please - it's a glamorous adjustable strap to make my bras racerback-friendly...

Now, it's exactly the same as the plastic straps I saw in the shop (and didn't buy, because my version is not-plastic). But of course, because of the way it hooks on, it doesn't lie flat across my back. Is this a design fault with all bra-strap adaptors??? I demand to know!

See the floaty flaring...

I think I've found my summer non-school uniform :-)