Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


#MakeNine2023 Ambitions for the new year

I’m a little late with this years plan, and in fact I have already posted about one of my makes! Still, I suppose that means that I’ve got off to a good start!

Like most years I have managed a few items from my previous year’s #MakeNine, but not all, so I will carry over some of the ideas that I still plan to do.

Clockwise from top left: Clair Skirt (Liz Haywood) eventually made in green see below, Tartan Skirt, Black Sweatshirt (pattern to be decided), Palisade Trousers (Papercut Patterns), Nikko top hack (True Bias), Dropje Vest (Waffle Patterns), Bobble Hat, Peter and the Wolf Trousers (Papercut Patterns), Cortland Trench (Grainline Studios)

The items I intend to continue to make are as follows:

1. A Long Wool Skirt

This will use the Clair pattern. Actually I’ve already made this, see my post here. So a good Strat for my Make Nine!

Clair Skirt

2. A Skirt with Scottish tartan

Tartan Skirt

I don’t know how many years my precious souvenir tartan fabric has languished in my stash. I am scared of this fabric, and I’m not sure exactly how I can use my limited yardage. It will be a headache of a project which is why I’ve found every excuse not to do it previously! Let’s see if I can manage this in 2023.

3. Black Palisade trousers

I don’t know why I keep on putting off making these trousers. I know I like my shorts version in a cotton-linen blend. I suppose it may be that they are such an ordinary useful pair of trousers; all the more reason for doing this project. Plus the pockets are supreme!

Papercut Palisade Trousers
Papercut Palisade Trousers

4. Dropje Vest

This is absolute necessity for working from home. It may be a difficult project, but at least now I have the fabric.

Dropje Vest
Dropje Vest

5. Cortland Trench

One of things that I would really like to try is making a coat. I’ve always been a bit stuck because in the south-west of the UK, a warm woolen coat just wouldn’t get much wear. I have lots of coat patterns in my magazines, but I’m wary of sewing a first coat using the inadequate instructions from Burda. When the Cortland Trench by Grainline Studios was released I was immediately drawn to it; I like the short style and it has many of the trench coat details that I was looking for.

Cortland Trench by Grainline Studios

And below are the new items to add to my list:

6. Nikko Top

I made lots of t-shirts last year, including a Nikko Top. I would like to make more of these, or more specifically make Nikko top hacks. I would like a short sleeve tops, but with the high neck line. I have also seen the Terry pattern by VikiSews. The cut-out detail on this pattern interests me, so I may decide to make a Franken-pattern t-shirt with that detail.

True Bias Nikko Top
True Bias Nikko Top

7. A Black Sweatshirt

This isn’t the most interesting make, and I have yet to decide on a pattern. I have quite a few Lekala credits so I could use this pattern. Or I could use a men’s pattern, because there’s no fancy stuff involved, like bat wings or cowl, The I AM Men’s Rainbow looks the part with good variations, like different pockets and with or without hood.

I AM Rainbow Sweatshirt

Essentially I am look for a hooded top with kangaroo pockets. I intend to make this make a little more interesting by adding an interesting design on the back. I haven’t yet decided on the design or how to apply it to the sweatshirt. I’m still at the initial thoughts stage with this one!

8. A Woolly Hat with a Big Pom-pom

I bought a beautiful fluffy TOFT pom-pom at Bath Christmas market and I would like to knit a new hat for it. I bought a book of beanie hat pattern booklet a while ago The one on the far right at the bottom appeals to me.

Rowan Beanie Hat Booklet

9. Peter and the Wolf Trousers

Peter and the Wolf Trousers (Papercut Patterns)

I suppose this is a replacement for my pair of Peter and the Wolf jeans. These are nearly a decade old and are “wafer-thin” in places. I am literally waiting for the holes to appear. I bought some stretch-cotton twill from Like Sew Amazing in an steel blue colour for this purpose.


#MakeNine2022 Final Update

I must admit I have been struggling with my nine projects this year. My completed count is currently at 2 and a half. I managed to make the underwear and also the Lander trousers. I have also started on the Nikko top.

It isn’t because I’m not excited about my selection, it is mainly that I haven’t been able to do much in the way of in-person fabric shopping. If there is anything that my chosen Make Nine have in common it is that they use fabrics that I haven’t sewn much with before, which for me necessitates the need to make decisions based on fabric stroking.

But fear not, I told myself, when Sew Brum was on the horizon! The Birmingham emporia are sure to provide for my every whim! It was one of the highlights of my year to finally get out and be among like-minded sewing enthusiasts, after two years of Covid restrictions. We enjoyed the day mooching around the Rag Market, Fancy Silk Store, Barry’s Fabrics and Guthrie and Ghani. The fabric shops didn’t disappoint either and I now have fabric to make some of the more challenging projects on the list. Here is what I bought:

1. A window pane checked green wool fabric. This is going to be made into the Zero Waste Clair Skirt. A proposed make that has been on the cards for a while. This fabric pairs well with my super-warm green jumper. This is definitely going to be a warm but elegant outfit.

Clair Skirt Fabric (Green windowpane check)
Clair Skirt Fabric (Green windowpane check)

2. A tartan checked wool fabric in muted shades of fawn, mauve and blue with an orange accent. I think this will be great for my hooded Dropje vest. This is going to be one a wearing-round-the-house item, since anything to be worn outdoors in the south-west of the UK needs to be waterproof. I haven’t bought any lining for this garment yet, but that will be an easier online purchase. This fabric looks super with my recent Lander trousers.

Dropje Vest Fabric (Muted shades of green, fawn and blue with an orange accent)
Dropje Vest Fabric (Muted shades of green, fawn and blue with an orange accent)

3. A cream ribbed jersey. I have made a few t-shirts this year, but I really would like a Nikko top and this will be to replace a much-worn RTW cream t-shirt that has a hole in it and rather nasty looking armpits.

Nikko Top Fabric (Cream rib jersey)
Nikko Top Fabric (Cream rib jersey)

4. A striped silk fabric. This was an impulse purchase; surely I was allowed one? I loved the idea of making a top that positions the stripes in an interesting manner. I like the idea of this Burda top, but I fear I may not have enough fabric for it, but you never know.

Striped silk fabric
Striped silk fabric

In essence these are all projects I have probably already talked about, but I may actually get to make now I have the fabric. I’m really looking forward to finally getting on with these. And as I have knocked nearly three items from my list, I can come up with a new three to add to my list. I’ll post soon with my new ideas too!


#MakeNine2022 Madalynne x Simplicity 8229 Underwear Part 3

The Simplicity 8229 by Madalynne is the only bra I have made and my first attempt was made using the pattern in kit form. This made the whole process a bunch easier as I didn’t have to source all the fabrics and findings from scratch.

Fabric and other supplies

For my new bra, I sourced all my supplies from the Sewing Chest as individual items and not as a kit. I decided to go for a cream / off-white colour scheme and selected lace and findings accordingly. However, it did seem like I spent an age on the website trying to figure out what to buy. If you have a look on the site, you’ll just see how many pages there are of little coloured rings! I don’t think I made the best choice with the rings and sliders (they are supposedly “fawn”), but I don’t think I did too badly with all the other components.

Pattern adjustments

Although I can say that the original 8229 bra fits, after some wear I have come to some conclusions on suitability of the style. I have a very short torso, and as such the extra fabric under the cups just bunches up and settles at the level just under the breast and above my stomach. I wouldn’t say this causes any discomfit, but it doesn’t look right. For comparison, here is a (very old and comfortable) RTW bra (black bra in photo below) that I wear compared to the Simplicity 8229 (white bra in photo below). As you can see there is nothing below the underwires on the black RTW bra, whereas the Simplicity 8229 has extra fabric in this area.

Comparison of two bras. Top Simplicity 8229 (white), Bottom RTW bra (black) – note the extra fabric between the bra band and the underwires on the white Simplicity 8229 bra.

I thought that I could make another version with some adjustments that would make the bra more in line with the style that seems to work better on my body. These adjustments included:

  1. Making the bottom band come directly under the underwire
  2. Reducing the height of the back band and front band at the top too
  3. Adding bones where the front band joins the back band to prevent the fabric “scrunching-up”

Another problem that seemed to occur is that the straps were always falling off my shoulders. I really don’t know what caused this. I don’t like changing things unless I know they will make a difference, so I’m not sure the adjustments here will work, but I hope so:

  1. Decreasing the length of the straps (yes, I adjusted them to fit, but there was a double thickness of the elastic for virtually half the length of the strap)
  2. Making the strap elastic wider
Simplicity 8229 – note the stupidly long strap. This is adjusted to fit me (just shows how short my body is!)


I remembered to look at the short video that Madalynne provides online. It’s not really a sew-along, however it helped me improve the finish of the bra, with lots of tips on how to hide raw edges etc.

It has been a long time since I made the original bra, and I don’t remember whether I used Wonder tape to the extent I used it this time. Anyway, it was brilliant for holding straps down where using a pin just wouldn’t work.

I felt sure that I would have lace left over for a pair of knickers, but sadly I seemed to use it all up making sure that the bar cups were cut symmetrically.


It looks great; every bit as good as underwear from a shop. I wouldn’t normally be flabbergasted that this is the case, but being still a novice at bra-making (and definitely a novice at selecting the right components for bra-making) I am delighted with the way it looks. I haven’t worn it yet, but will do tomorrow.

Cream Madalynne x Simplicity 8229 bra: very pretty!


#MakeNine2022 – Ambitions for the new year

Review of Make Nine 2021

I’ll start with a short re-cap on my progress for 2021. Overall, I didn’t manage that many on the list, just four. However, I did tackle the biggest project, the jumper!

1. A Winter Jumper

Finished! This took a long time and I learnt many skills along the way with this make. My confidence in my knitting skills has greatly improved too; I feel that I can tackle whatever Ravelry waves at me now!

2. A Long Wool Skirt

Still on the list. I am still keen to do this make as it will complete an outfit with my winter jumper.

3. Grey Burda Trousers

Finished! I loved the style of these, but found the fabric wanting (too much pilling happened in the first wash). I’m sure I’ll make another pair of these, but not for the moment.

4. Nikko Top

Still on the list. The fabric I had originally ear-marked for this make didn’t have enough stretch so I didn’t get to make this.

5. A Skirt with Scottish tartan

Still on the list. This skirt has been carried over more than once!

6. Wearing a square from Pattern Magic

Finished! I’ve really enjoyed wearing this top, it is unusual, but rather cool! It is also a zero-waste pattern, so the process of measuring and cutting out was very different.

7. Black Palisade trousers

Still on the list. Another carry over from 2019!

8. Corduroy trousers

Finished! I made these beautiful chocolate-brown corduroy trousers using vintage Butterick 3065.

9. Dropje Vest

Still on the list. This make suffered from my inability to go fabric shopping in person last year.

Make Nine 2022 plans

Plans for Make Nine 2022

I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t a little disappointed that I didn’t manage to make more of my 2021 list. I suppose the intersection between ambition and shopping constraints was the main problem. For a good part of the year in-person shops were closed and then later I didn’t have so many opportunities to go places on my own (i.e. not boring Mr and Master Steely in a fabric shop). I should be grateful that this meant I was able to use more of the stash, but the stash seems to contain overwhelmingly fabrics that can be used for tops and there are hardly any heavier-weight lengths in there. So Make Nine 2022 will have many projects carried over from last year, so first a reminder of those:

1. A Long Wool Skirt

I’m really keen to make this as I intend to pair the skirt with my winter jumper. The cold weather hasn’t gone away yet, so it may well get worn before the summer.

I’m going to use the Clair pattern which is one of Liz Haywood’s zero-waste designs. It’s a little out of my comfort zone and I’m not sure about the fabric yet. I’m most worried about the weight and drape. How can I achieve the look of the skirt below, which is a cotton gabardine in wool? I’m really not sure about the colour either, the skirt in my drawing is red, but I’m equally drawn to blue and even using a tartan.

Zero-waste Clair Skirt
Zero-waste Clair Skirt

2. Nikko Top

I bought a small remnant of ribbed cotton jersey at Guthrie and Ghani’s, but I discovered that it didn’t have much stretch. I need to rethink fabric ideas for the Nikko top and probably have to take a gamble and buy on-line, so I could go for neutral navy blue or perhaps another colour. I feel that this garment could well become a work-horse in my wardrobe and get worn under my jumpsuit or pinafore in cool weather.

True Bias Nikko Top
True Bias Nikko Top

3. A Skirt with Scottish tartan

I am scared of the precious souvenir fabric I want to use for this make and I’m not sure how to squeeze my intended skirt out of the narrow width and limited yardage that I have. I’m hoping that I’ll find a more peaceful and organised house this year, that will mean these more challenging projects, like this, will be possible.

4. Black Palisade trousers

I keep on putting off making these trousers. Again, they require me to buy fabric that isn’t in my stash, but I am sure that I would like to make these in a black cotton-linen blend, which will be easy to find on-line. I did make a pair of shorts using some cotton-linen blend left-overs using the Palisade pattern, so this should be a relatively easy make, although I do need to amend the fit a little by reducing the rise.

Papercut Palisade Trousers
Papercut Palisade Trousers

5. Dropje Vest

I’m still thinking about improving my cold weather clothing! This is very much a necessity rather than a whim. Working from home can be very cold and I don’t like using the heating excessively. I’ve worn my winter jumper a lot in the house to keep me warm and I’m thinking that this vest would be a useful addition too. Again, I’m going to have to buying some more wool fabric, so I may not dive into this immediately.

Dropje Vest
Dropje Vest

Now, for the more fun items which are new to my list……

6. Underwear

I’ve made this a broad category, but I intend to make one bra and a few pairs of knickers. I have made the Madalynne 8229 bra before. It fits well and I’d like to make another one. There is one change that I would like to make and that is to make it less deep. I find that with my short torso the extra length below the wiring wrinkles up, so I think I will adjust the shape of the pattern pieces to exclude this extra length.

I’m also looking at making some knickers. I like the look of either the Wonder Undies by Waves and Wild or the Wonder Unders from Scroop Patterns for practical, no non-sense undies. The Scroop pattern also includes a slip /camisole. The Waves and Wild pattern is designed to use knit bands instead of elastic and I rather liked that idea. Having said that I am also toying making something a bit more fancy using some of the lace from the bra to make matching knicker such as the Grace Pattern from Ohhh Lulu

Ohhh Lulu Grace Knickers

7. Navy cardigan

With the fabric originally intended for the Nikko top, I plan to make a cardigan. I like the style of the Marlo sweater from True Bias, but I have a pattern from Burda that is very similar, namely cardigan #111 09/2021.

Burda cardigan #111 09/2021

I am also inspired by the photo below (also from Burda) to use some red and white rib knit for the bands.

Burda jacket #110 03/2020

8. Cortland Trench

One of things that I would really like to try is making a coat. I’ve always been a bit stuck because in the south-west of the UK, a warm woolen coat just wouldn’t get much wear. It rains so much that going outside the front door without something waterproof is almost anathema. I have lots of coat patterns in my magazines, but I’m wary of sewing a first coat using the inadequate instructions from Burda. When the Cortland Trench by Grainline Studios was released I was immediately drawn to it; I like the short style and it has many of the trench coat details that I was looking for. I suspect this may well not get made by the end of the year, but here it is, on my wish-list!

Cortland Trench by Grainline Studios

9. “I got through this” Jeans

I definitely need more jeans in my wardrobe. I wear jeans a lot and I have a couple of pairs that are already featuring multiple repairs. Whilst I like to repair, there is only so much you can do when the seats get wafer-thin. Anyway, I have had this idea floating around my brain to make something to remind myself of the last two years. I think most people have been through the wringer in some way or another and I want to just acknowledge this and have a more permanent way of saying to myself – “That was hard, but I got through it”. So, this pair of jeans will figure some embroidery…. you’ll have to see what it is in a later post! I may use the Lander pants from True Bias patterns for this.

There are quite a few things that didn’t get to the list, and I know they should have. We are doing some changes to the living room and I should have added the curtains to my Make Nine. But they will be a dull make so I didn’t fancy adding them. I didn’t include a knitting project either, but I think I need a breather from knitting for a few months and I really couldn’t decide what to do next, or rather I had plenty of ideas, but no idea what to prioritise! My ambition, with absolutely no pressure, is simply to complete more of my list than last year. I think that is achievable!


#makenine2021 Pine green seventies sweater: the finished look

The makenine challenge each year always feels like an almighty hill to climb. Perhaps I am too ambitious for myself, but including a knitting project in the nine, when I am such a novice, always makes the challenge hard.

The project I chose was a sweater using a vintage pattern. I hadn’t knitted a full sweater before, nor followed a vintage pattern: this really was a learning curve. Not to mention that this is only the second project where I had picked up stitches on a neckline, or used mattress stitch to seam. I laugh in the face of my ambitions! This said, it was no surprise that the process was slow, and I needed to consult youtube frequently to check on the techniques that I either didn’t know, or needed reminding about.

Sirdar knitting pattern from the seventies

Yarn choice

The only familiar aspect of the project was that I chose to use Lett Lopi yarn. I used the same yarn here and was so pleased with the result I wanted to used the same wool again. The yarn is extremely warm, perhaps because it comes from Icelandic sheep.

I had a conversation with my next-door neighbour recently where we talked about working from home and he shared with me his delight in a quilted gilet and fingerless gloves. This sweater is my equivalent and will help ward off the creeping cold that seems to penetrate your bones when you need to sit still for hours in a cold Victorian house.

One thing to note for those that have never used Lett lopi before; it has the very unusual property of being made of only one strand. Plyed yarns are stronger than a single strand of the same thickness so you do need to be careful when pulling on the yarn. I am quite a loose knitter so never have problems with this, but trying to seam my sweater together I did pull the yarn apart a few times.


My experience with my first vintage knitting pattern was better than I expected. I was nervous about diving into this project simply because I couldn’t tell what quantity of wool was needed, but after those initial doubts, following the instructions was simple enough and I used youtube to fill my knowledge gaps when I came across techniques or stitches I didn’t know. I learned a lot about different types of decrease and picking up stitches with this project. I was extremely pleased that I incorporate a beautiful alternating cable cast-on too.

Pine-green sweater styled: stood out in the wind and the rain just long enough for this photo!


My sweater is very warm; I would go as far as saying that I will probably only wear it inside at home or when it is very cold outside. My only regret is that it is quite tight-fitting and before you ask my gauge was spot on and I picked the correct size. According to the pattern, it is to be worn with no ease. I really should have read that, but somehow I didn’t. I think it fits with the seventies aesthetic, but I’m not convinced it looks marvellous on me with my lack of waist definition. I have been going through my wardrobe and experimenting with different looks. Here are my thoughts:

Three looks with the pine-green sweater

Look 1: Brushed cotton checked shirt (Lekala) with RTW low-rise jeans

The low-rise of these jeans meant that there was a definite gap between the bottom of the sweater and the trousers, so I wondered whether the untucked shirt would work. I’m not sure. I like the brushed cotton under the sweater though.

Look 2: Brushed cotton shirt with flared high-rise jeans

The colour of the shirt is probably not a great choice, but I wanted to see if this style fitted well under the sweater and it did. The high-rise jeans cover the gap between the sweater finishing and the jeans waistband.

Look 3: Floral liberty shirt with RTW Black velvet skirt

This was a surprise combination: I have never worn this shirt and skirt together and the sweater brings the whole look together. I like this! I have often seen dresses worn with cropped jumpers and this emulates that look as the skirt sits quite high on the waist.


#makenine2021 Pine green seventies sweater progress 1

I took the plunge last month and bought yarn for a new knitting project. I chose a very simple, plain knitting pattern for the project. However, the pattern is vintage and I had been worried that this would cause all sorts of complications.

Last month my problem was how much yarn to order, but using other patterns on Ravelry as a guide, I guessed the total amount I would need and ordered the wool. This month I’ve actually been making progress on the knitting. Have there been any more challenges?

Surprisingly, so far it has been a reasonably smooth process. The pattern is reasonably straight-forward, although just like a seventies sewing pattern it does assume a reasonable amount of knowledge. For example, when it suggests a decrease, it doesn’t tell you what sort of decrease to make. However, because there was no hand-holding, I have been forced to take to Youtube and learn. Actually, I always prefer this way of learning, the type of learning that relies on discovery. I’ve always found that the most rewarding type of learning. It means that you will always end up reading/watching more than you really need. However, I think this means that you acquire more understanding as a result, compared to a situation where you are just “told” what to do. I can certainly see with this make that my arm-hole edges are much more elegant and all my decreases are slanting correctly. Plus, because this is such a plain sweater, if I like the shape I could easily make another with stripes or other colour-work. (Clearly my dreams of being a proficient knitter well exceed reality)

The other thing I have noticed is the pattern is full of details that add finesse to the overall finished knit. For example, s1 stitches are used at particular points as the first stitch in a row. Essentially s1 is where you just slip the stitch, without knitting or purling to the working needle. The reason this is great is that it can tighten up the edges and give a better finish.

The Toasty Sweater I created last year was a very off-putting experience and mostly because the maths wasn’t correct. An example, the pattern would say decrease 5 stitches for 2 rows (so 10 stitches in total would lost overall), but then the total number of stitches left at the end of the decrease would be incorrect. It was very frustrating and I ended up re-writing sections of the pattern. This jumper, so far, has been prefect. Every decrease I have done has resulted in the right number of stitches for the row. For a beginner it is so important that these things are correct, otherwise you begin to doubt your own (limited) skills.

The back piece took quite a while to knit and it wasn’t the most interesting thing to do once the colour changes on the ribbing were completed. I only used 2.5 balls of wool, so I will have plenty to finish the project, which is reassuring. The front piece is very similar to the back piece so I know that the maths will be correct for that too. Reassuring again! I finally feel I am well on the way to a warm jumper!


#makenine2021 A vintage knitting project and what colour is frostbite?

I was looking at my Make Nine choices. There comes a point in every plan where the initial enthusiasm wears off and it becomes harder to realise all the garments I have chosen. Generally, I think this point comes when I reach the more challenging items. One of the most difficult items in my plan is, without doubt, the knitted jumper. It is probably no coincidence that it is also the most needed item too.

The last year I have worked mostly form home. Home is hard to heat. Although that isn’t a problem at the weekend when moving around keeps me warm, but on work days when I’m sitting still and chained to the desk I can quickly feel cold.

Finding a pattern that I wanted to knit proved to be a difficult step. Essentially I have two specifications – that the sweater shouldn’t be too fancy so that it gets maximum wear and also that the pattern uses only techniques I have used before (or at least not too many new ones).

Extensive browsing on Ravelry came up with limited possibilities. There are so many beautiful patterns with colourwork or cables that I itch to do. However, I’m determined to have a warm jumper in my wardrobe by winter so I need to rein in my ambitions until I have a bit more knitting experience under my belt.

Of course, I could just choose a jumper for it’s shape and leave out any cables or colourwork, but that requires modifying the pattern. With my previous make, a striped tank top, I re-wrote the whole pattern adding in the stripes, but also correcting mistakes I found in the maths. I didn’t want a repeat of that experience, it was pretty soul-destroying for a beginner.

Fortunately, I found this fantastic vintage pattern in a charity shop. I picked up quite a few of these 70s patterns, but this was the plainest one. In fact, I’m now thinking it looks a bit like a school jumper. (Thank goodness I didn’t consider making this in grey otherwise it would definitely look like school uniform! Although perhaps it looks a bit like a Slitherin house, Hogwarts school jumper because it is green.) I think it fufils my criteria well; plain enough to wear with most of my wardrobe and using all the techniques I’ve used before – increasing, decreasing, ribbing, picking up stitches.

Sirdar 5525 – a plain classic jumper. I like the styling here too on the cover – brown and cream with the “dog-ear collar” blouse.

Features of my vintage pattern:

  • Ribbed finishes on the hem, neckline and cuff including two bands of a second colour.
  • Worked flat and then seamed
  • Round neckline, perfect for wearing shirts underneath

My next obstacle was buying the wool. Sadly the pattern didn’t help much with this – “7 balls “of a long departed product wasn’t going to provide me with any guidance on the quantity I needed. Fortunately, this is where Ravelry is helpful. I found a similar style of jumper in a similar size and made a guess. I decided that to be on the safe side I would order 1000 m of yarn, and buy a few extra balls in different colours. That way I could decide which second colour to use when the wool arrived and (ambitiously) I thought I could even make something else with all the left-overs. I still have a little of the two blues from the tank top.

I decided to use Lett lopi yarn again. I enjoyed using it before and it comes in a great range of colours. Also, it isn’t too expensive. I picked 1407 – pine green heather for the main colour and also ordered 0005 – black heather, 1417 – frostbite, and 9421 – celery green heather as possible contenders for the second colour.

When the yarn arrived I decided to choose the palest green (1417 – frostbite) as a contrast to my pine green. Is frostbite ever that green, I thought frost-bitten toes tend to be black – not a pleasant thought? Or perhaps it isn’t really about toes, but more like frost on a leaf? Anyway, I made a swatch and picked my needle sizes based on that.

I suspect this project is going to take a long time, so I’ve decided that I’m going to knit it in stages, starting with the back piece first. I’ll then go back to some sewing before I attempt the front.

Does anyone else have experience with vintage knitting patterns? My biggest obstacle, so far, has been picking the yarn. But I’m still quite an inexperienced knitter and I’m bound to come across more problems. Are there any other drawbacks? On the plus side I’ve found that patterns of this vintage are often knitted flat, as opposed to in the round. At the moment I’m finding that this is my preferred method, but perhaps I’m just recalling the horror that was this cabled hat when I think about knitting in the round.


#makenine2021 Grey Trousers (Burda Style 08/2019 #120B)

Today, I have another make from my Make Nine 2021 to share with you. Here’s a previous post on the plans I have for the full nine. This is my second make from a collection in the 08/2019 Burda Style magazine, here’s the first. The trousers are quite unusual. They look like cargo trousers, but are designed to be made with a flowing viscose twill rather than a more sturdy fabric. I was immediately attracted to them as a light-weight pair of trousers for spring / summer.

Burda Style #120 08/2020
Burda Style #120 08/2020

Below is the line drawing. There are big front pockets, some faux pocket flaps and bands and a belt constructed from twill tape and D-rings. I was nervously relishing the complexity of the construction here. Nervously, because it’s a Burda pattern!

These trousers have been a long time in the making. I started making them early in the year (probably February), but the shops were all closed. I had purchased the fabric from Like Sew Amazing before the lockdown, but I didn’t have the buttons, twill tape and D-rings. So, I made them up as far as I could go and then left them in a bag for a while. Once I’d purchased the notions in April, I was able to press on with the construction. There were some really tricky parts to this. The Burda instructions were, as usual, completely awful. The trousers shared some instructions with #120A, which has a different waistband. I rewrote them for clarity as they jumped around between the two views and it was too much for my brain to cope with. The weight of the D-rings and twill tape also made manipulating the fabric difficult and I think it would make sense to rearrange the order of the instructions and add the D-rings right at the end.

Burda Style #120 08/2020 line drawing
Burda Style #120 08/2020 line drawing

The first time I tried the trousers on the waistband seemed really tight. I was super annoyed with myself over that. But weirdly, I’ve worn them several times since then and they have fitted fine. (One of these days I’m going to write a whole post on how hard I find it to fit clothes at the waist – my waist size seems to fluctuate so much even within the course of a day). Then, an even bigger disaster, the first time I sat down in them I heard the popping sound of all the stitches on the back seam breaking. I can’t imagine how this happened because once I sewed them up again, with the teeniest of extra ease (0.5 cm was about as much as I could squeeze out of the seam) they seemed (or seamed, if you prefer) completely okay. I even jumped around the living room doing weird poses and crouches and no more seam popping ensued! Perhaps I just caught the fabric somehow, but I don’t really like mysteries like this.

Back View – does it look too tight? Bit difficult to tell with the drape of this fabric. Certainly doesn’t feel tight at all. The Wearing A Square top looks a little weird here, only because I was in the process of putting it back on, it doesn’t normally drape like that.

Burda top #105 – Burda 11/2016 made in double-gauze. A perfect combination.

I’ve now been experimenting with wearing these trousers with various different me-mades from my wardrobe. So far, I’ve found that a top I made back in 2017, above looks great with these trousers and also the Wearing A Square top, but that was always intended to go with these trousers as an outfit.

All in all, I’m really pleased with this make. I felt it was a little risky since they are quite an unusual pair of trousers, but that didn’t mean that they are really easy to wear and incorporate in my wardrobe.


#MakeNine2021 – Bring on the new

This year, I’ve really been noticing a change in what I need in my wardrobe. I think it is a given that most people are having similar thoughts, with casual wear being worn much of the time. I have a little more of an unusual take on this, as I’m quite happy to wear fitted garments in woven fabrics, whether I’m in the house or the outside world. However, I have noticed that as I’m no longer going into an air-conditioned office much, my wardrobe needs more items to cover greater extremes in temperature and, in particular I do need items that are warm. So this year’s Make Nine does feature many items that can be worn in the winter months.

Make Nine 2021 Drawings

Make Nine 2021 Drawings

Another focus for this year, is to experiment with zero-waste patterns. My first two will include the Pattern Magic “Wearing a Square” and the Clair skirt, see below.

I have had to rein in my creativity a little with my choices and have decided to include four makes using stash fabrics. This is getting more difficult now as I have really slashed the stash, but I have to be realistic about shopping. There may be many months ahead where in-person shopping will not be possible and although I am reasonably confident with on-line purchases for fabrics I use regularly, that won’t cover all my choices. Even worse, I’ve added a knitting project to the nine and I have very little idea about buying wool. Whenever I’ve bought wool before, I have had long conversations with Laura  in Wool Bath. I’ve never been disappointed, so I’m fully intending to do the same for my next knitting project, but even the short journey to Bath is out at the moment.

1. A Winter Jumper

Now that I’ve managed to finish a sweater, albeit one without sleeves in the past year, I should feel confident in my knitting skills to make another sweater. The only problem is that I want to make a very basic knit and I’m struggling to find a pattern. I would like to use the same construction techniques, just to reinforce the knitting skills that I do have. This means a sweater worked flat with set-in sleeves and ribbing at the cuffs, neckline and hem. All in all, a garment which isn’t too complicated, although I could be tempted by some simple colourwork, or cables. Can I find anything, with the whole of Ravelry at my behest? No! It’s possible, I’m being too picky in my search, but if anyone can suggest a good basic pattern I would be super pleased.

2. A Long Wool Skirt

I’m going to use the Clair pattern which is one of Liz Haywood’s zero-waste designs. I’m really looking forward to giving this a go, even though this will be a little out of my comfort zone. I’m still not sure about the fabric yet, although I do feel it should be a wool skirt. I can envisage both long winter walks in this and curling up on the sofa with the fabric tucked over my toes like a blanket! I’m really not sure about the colour, the skirt in my drawing is red, but I’m equally drawn to blue and even using a tartan.

Zero-waste Clair Skirt

Zero-waste Clair Skirt

3. Grey Burda Trousers

On to a less tricky make as far selecting materials goes! I’ve already purchased some grey viscose twill for this make. It drapes well and I’m sure will give the same vibe as the photo in the Burda Style magazine. The “Lady in Red” collection from the August 2019 edition is one of my favourite Burda collections. The whole collection looks super cool. I’ve already made the top with the shirred sleeves.The only thing that holds me back is that the trousers are definitely not a winter make, so I’m not so drawn to starting this one, at least not yet.

Burda Style #120 08/2020

Burda Style #120 08/2020

Burda Style #120 08/2020 line drawing

Burda Style #120 08/2020 line drawing

4. Nikko Top

I bought a small remnant of ribbed cotton jersey at Guthrie and Ghani’s last year. I thought it would come in handy for a Nikko top. I’m not sure what length of sleeves I’ll be able to manage, perhaps the remnant will just make the sleeveless version. Either way, in navy blue it will fit perfectly into the wardrobe, and will pair well with the Grey Burda trousers, and just about anything else blue and grey in my wardrobe.

True Bias Nikko Top

True Bias Nikko Top

5. A Skirt with Scottish tartan

This one is a carry over from last year’s Make Nine. All the usual reasons for procrastination have haunted my relationship with this fabric. I’m scared about cutting into this precious tartan and I’m not sure how to squeeze a kilt out of the yardage I have. This year I’ve really struggled to find time to myself. All the lockdown months and endless hours spent cramped in the house with a noisy teenager haven’t been very conducive to projects that require lots of thought. I intend to start 2021 with quiet optimism for this make.

6. Wearing a square from Pattern Magic

This is another project where I already have the intended fabric and have even made a start on this. In fact, I had to draft the pattern in order to make sure I bought the right quantity of fabric! Pattern Magic is one of those Japanese sewing books that are a little intimidating, but I’ve spotted lots of versions of “Wearing a Square” on line and it is generally regarded as one of the easiest makes in the book.

Pattern Magic: Wearing a square

Pattern Magic: Wearing a square

7. Black Palisade trousers

I fully intended to make these trousers last year, and they were on the 2020 Make Nine list. I did make a pair of shorts using some cotton-linen blend left-overs using the Palisade pattern. Here’s a weird thing, I haven’t had a pair of shorts in my wardrobe, since I was a teenager. I really do not wear them at all, but call it one of those 2020 things, I actually wore this pair rather a lot. I wore them cycling loads and also around the house (where obviously I spent a lot of time) when the weather was hot. Anyway, although I’m not 100% happy with the fit, I need to reduce the rise and lengthen them a little, I’ve actually enjoyed wearing them. Furthermore, I’m absolutely convinced that I need to make the full length trousers out of the same cotton-linen blend. They are so comfortable. I’m also considering whether I should make another shorts version with the improved fit.

Papercut Palisade Trousers

Papercut Palisade Trousers

8. Corduroy trousers

I’ve been mourning the loss of my last corduroy trousers for a while. They were just too threadbare. Corduroy is just the best fabric for a pair of cosy winter trousers and I can’t wait to make these. I do need to make sure that I find a colour that works well with my recently-made brushed cotton shirt. I’m completely undecided about the pattern. I could go all out seventies and choose a vintage flares pattern or alternatively I could use the True Bias Lander pattern.

9. Dropje Vest

More cold weather clothing! I’m thinking that this vest could be worn inside (Yes, it is that cold in this house and I swear I’m half-reptile, because unless warmed by the sun, I’m really sluggish!). I think this make will stretch me as I’ve not made anything quilted before. Again, I’m going to have to buying some more wool fabric, so I may not dive into this immediately.

Dropje Vest

Dropje Vest

All in all, it is an ambitious set of makes, with a few garments that will take me out of my comfort zone and into new territory. I had difficulties reducing my list down to nine makes, and I don’t make much more than nine makes in a year anyway, so my plans have to be achievable and also useful. I did toy with the idea of including underwear in my make nine. I really do need at least nine pairs of knickers! That would have made the Make Nine really dull, but it would have been useful! I’m sure some underwear will, nevertheless feature at some point in the year.


#MakeNine2020 – How well did I do?

This morning I took a look back at the post I’d written at the beginning of the year called “#MakeNine2020 – The Plans”. I had thought long and hard about the selection of makes and I was really excited about making them. But as we all know 2020 just threw massive spanners into everybody’s lives.

1. A shirt with vintage 70s brushed cotton

This shirt uses a 70s pattern and fabric from the era too. I think I was quite intimidated to start this make, since I only just about had the right amount of fabric for the garment and there was no way I could get any more. The fabric is beautifully warm, I’m only missing a pair of corduroy flares to go with it!

A real step back in time: Seventies shirt complete with flares

A real step back in time: Seventies shirt complete with flares

2. A skirt with Scottish tartan

The thought of this make just scared me too much. Let’s just say that I need more headspace for this one; it couldn’t be tackled after a day of working at home, whilst simultaneously trying to home school.

3. A pair of skinny trousers with cracked-glass design fabric

This is my latest make. I made a copy cat of an Issey Miyake design for #designindecember with this fabric. For the full details, take a look at my previous posts, part 1 and part 2.

Shattered Glass Jeans Front View

Shattered Glass Jeans Front View

4. Black Palisade trousers

I didn’t get round to this one at all. Last year I made some shorts with the Papercut palisade pattern to iron out any difficulties. Actually the shorts turned out rather well and I did get good use out of them in the warm weather. They also convinced me that linen-cotton blend fabric would be a great choice for these. I’ll get round to this one soon, I promise.

5. Lilac tunic

This was another early make. I wasn’t very sure about the colour initially, but I have found that it does work well with lots of the blues and purples in my wardrobe. Although I have worn this layered over a long-sleeved top, it does work best on its own on a hot day. I can see why lots of people are in love with linen as a summer fabric, it feels so cool to wear it.

Style 1522 Top

Style 1522 Top: Worn over long-sleeved t-shirt, worn without t-shirt underneath.

6. Grainline Driftless cardigan in black

This was a very early make in the year and I was supremely pleased that my #makenine had got off to a good start. I’ve made a couple of Driftless cardigans previously, so it wasn’t a difficult make or time-consuming make. Black is a neutral, so it will pair nicely with much of my wardrobe.

Black Driftless Cardigan

Black Driftless Cardigan

7. Closet Case pouf

I made this pouf in the early part of the year, and was immensely proud to use up lots of fabric scraps. Unfortunately, it is a huge pouf and although it looks nice and plump in the photo below, it squashed to nothing. Even after regular feedings of scraps throughout the year, it still gets squashed to nothing under Master Steely’s butt. Still, at least it is used!

Closet Case Files Pouf

Closet Case Files Pouf

8. Pattern Magic make

This particular ambition has been on the #makenine two years running. At least this year I did make a start on this. The pattern / toile has been made (I drew straight onto the fabric) and I’ve also purchased the fabric for the final garment. What I do need is some time when I can lay things out on the living room floor, which probably isn’t going to happen before Master Steely goes back to school. I’ll call this half-done.

9. Wildcard make

My planned make was to try out a zero-waste design as the wildcard. I really wanted to try out one of Liz Hayward’s designs this year. I bought this pattern for a zero-waste skirt and fully intend to make a skirt using wool. The biggest obstacle for this was that I was unsure about what fabric to get and I think this task would have been easier with a trip to Birmingham where I could handle the fabrics. It was not to be, my travel (and everybody else’s) has been massively curtailed this year. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do the trip soon.

Perhaps I should have just chosen one of my other garments  to go in this wildcard space, or would that have been cheating?


Five and a half, or perhaps I give myself six and a half, if I count the wildcard! Not too bad especially given my lack of fabric buying opportunities.

One of the most interesting things about reviewing this list is that I tackled most of the makes with fabric from the stash. Overall, I didn’t actually buy much fabric this year at all. SewBrum happened virtually. Thank goodness for my local shop Like Sew Amazing!  It is so hard to choose fabric over the internet and I do like to shop in person and “fondle the fabric”. Let’s hope the new year allows some more “in-person” shopping.

My second observation is that my wardrobe is orientated strongly towards the spring and autumn seasons. Working from home, I do experience more temperature extremes compared to the air-conditioned office. I did find that I have very few summer clothes, although this isn’t too much of a problem since they can be slung in the wash and dried quickly on the line. More problematic is the lack of truly warm winter clothing. I generally end up wearing lots of bulky layers, and I think I would prefer to create some warmer clothing instead. I’ll make another Make Nine soon, complete with the dubious little drawings; I still haven’t mastered drawing hands.