Steely Seamstress

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#SummerOfBasics Full Outfit

This is my final post for the #SummerOfBasics. The instagram feed has been full of such amazing makes. It has been great to be part of this challenge. This is also such a fantastic contest for providing me with solid everyday clothing and this year I have made a yoga outfit.

The items are a pair of yoga socks using this free Patons pattern on Ravelry, a hoodie using a Burda pattern (Burda #119 01/2018) and the Ruri Sweatpants from Named Clothing.

Now I just needed to model my yoga kit all together – I finally have a yoga kit that I can feel proud to wear! The hoodie and sweatpants are cosy and perfect for the winter months in the yoga studio. The socks keep my feet warm, whilst still allowing me to grip the yoga mat with my toes. I’m super-pleased with the combination of fabrics and yarn too, all sticking to my navy blue / grey theme.

Yoga Outfit

Yoga Pose in my new yoga kit!

Yoga Outfit

…..And time for a rest!


#SummerOfBasics Ruri Sweatpants – Elegance in sweatshirting?

I have my doubts around sweatpants, joggers, tracksuit bottoms or whatever people call this item of clothing. Essentially I fear wearing something that looks awful; a garment seen on builders that reveal too much cleavage or a teenager loitering on a street corner (no offence intended to builders or teenagers – I know some very nice examples of both!) But I hold a degree of prejudice for this garment and I needed to find a pattern that would eliminate my fears. Is it possible to make “elegant” sweatpants? Or at least ones that look like you decided you’d made an intention to wear, rather than just picked them up off the floor for the umpteenth day in a row. (See, the negativity towards sweatpants just keeps on running off my fingertips!)

Ruri Sweatpants

After a search on the internet for suitable patterns, I decided to go with the Ruri sweatpants. Just look at the photo of the model (below); they are sweatpants in disguise surely? Admittedly, the high-heeled boots do make the model’s ensemble rather more sophisticated than some trainers would. However, I have hopes that these will fit the bill. They are slim fitting, have some roomy pockets and I love the snap closure feature on the hem. Furthermore, I can actually see myself making additional iterations of this pattern, perhaps in a woven fabric or in velvet, which would be a plus. I hate to buy a pattern that I think I’ll only use once.


I didn’t start sewing these until August. The reason being that I took a trip to London on 30th July and I wanted to buy the fabric there. I’m quite limited locally with fabric shops. There are a few, but I knew that cotton sweatshirting was not going to be stocked in any of them or at least with lots of choice. Anyway, despite a long meeting in central London, which took up way more time that I imagined it would, I still managed to head up to Islington and enter the tempting emporium that is Ray Stitch. Unlike my local shops, which are small and once you’ve eliminated the non-dressmaking fabrics, like the felt or upholstery-thickness bolts, there is a very limited selection, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the goodies. Fortunately, I hadn’t gone in with a carte blanche purchase attitude and I stuck to my guns and bought my sweatshirting. (I also bought some jersey fabric, but again that was an intentional purchase. I hope to use that very soon.)

My sweatshirting is in navy blue, in keeping with my grey/navy blue basics theme for my #SummerOfBasics outfit. I also purchased some silver-coloured snaps. I found some 4.5cm width elastic in my stash and I was ready to go.

Ruri sweatpants

The Named Clothing instructions for the Ruri are very good, with clear line-drawings; such a joy after the wasteland of Burda instructions. I quickly put together the pockets and tacked together the crotch and trousers seams. At this point I tried them on and found that they were rather roomy at the front, so I re-cut the fronts of trousers making them narrower and so the crotch seam was less curved too. Once I was happy I sewed everything up and constructed the waistband.

The waistband caused me quite a few problems and I had a couple of attempts making it smaller each time. The fabric pieces must have been quite a bit smaller than the suggested pattern measurements for my waist size. I had tried the waistband on before sewing the top-stitching. So, I think that when I sewed in the elastic, there was some stretching out, which caused the elasticated back portion of the waistband to lengthen. Never mind, I got there in the end. I notice that Sie macht had had the same problem when she sewed the waistband. And then, I had an enormous drama sewing the waistband to the trousers. It resembled an enormous tug of war with the overlocker. Trying to hold the elastic unstretched while getting umpteen layers of fabric through the machine. I broke two needles in the process and had to visit the haberdashery to replace them! I would say that when I make this pattern again I will make sure that the seam allowance on the upper waistband is wider perhaps 1.5 – 2.0 cm so that I have little chance of the elastic creeping into my seam. It might prevent the needle breakage.

Then, there were the snaps. I was so worried about the holes that I needed to make in the fabric to insert the snappers, I even sewed around the holes to strengthen them. I was also anxious that I was going to insert the snaps wrongly, but it the end I managed. But I suppose they gave me as many jitters as buttonholes do….I think it must be the “putting holes in fabric” that worries me so much.

I decided to model the sweatpants initially in a similar fashion to the Named model. I think that they actually look smart, which is unbelievable. I’m not entirely sure I would naturally team this shirt and boots with these sweatpants, so it was good to see this combination.

I’m off now to model the full yoga, so I’ll post more photos later….




#SummerOfBasics Hug a hoodie

As everyone in the UK knows we have been basking in the most amazing summer weather this year. The only downside is that it has been difficult to really sew in this weather; sweaty fingers don’t hold pins, pressing between sewing steps is an ordeal and who wants to try on a snuggly hoodie when just the thought of putting on another layer makes you feel hot!

Burda #119 Hoodie

My sewing-time windows have been few this month, but unexpectedly my son went on a trip to the seaside with a friend and his family. I sent him off with sun-cream, a pack lunch and I parted with £20, way too much for an ice-cream and train fare, but all I had in my purse at the time. Master Steely is renowned for his spending habits and I doubted I would see a penny of my twenty pounds back.

But, now I had a whole day to myself for sewing and I sewed up a storm (well, I wished I could sew a few rainclouds, at least). I managed the majority of the sewing in a day. In fact, everything except the hood which was sewn on afterwards. I don’t think I’ve ever sewn in such a long stretch ever before. I always thought I was an incredibly slow at sewing, perhaps my usual 2- 4 weeks per garment is more a reflection on the intermittent nature of my sewing.

As for the twenty pounds….. I was surprised with Master Steely’s purchase – a boat! Yes, a two-seater inflatable dingy with paddles – I had to laugh! I actually think he did well to get a boat for twenty pounds and with all this great weather it has had a few outings.

Burda #119 Hoodie

Burda #119 Hoodie

A few notes on the construction:

The fabric is a Cosy Colours Sweatshirt fabric from Guthrie and Ghani. I’d previously made a sweatshirt in the teal colourway and was incredibly happy with this soft and cosy fabric. In keeping with the “Basics” theme, I’m sticking to my grey/navy blue colour scheme for my yoga outfit and this fabric is a grey marl with coloured flecks, including navy blue flecks.

Burda #119 Hoodie

The zip was an old zip saved from an ancient hoodie, which died a long time ago. I kept the zip as I really loved the star-shaped pull. I found some gold eyelets and a white cord for the hood. Sadly, these were all that were in the shop. I may try to find some navy cord at a later date to keep the grey / navy theme going, but so far no luck.

The pattern I used was the hooded jacket #119 from the January issue of Burda Style magazine. It’s a very relaxed fix and has all the features you’d expect from a hoodie – kangaroo pockets, a good-sized hood. It also has some unusual design elements such as the curved hem and the pleated sleeves. Since I wrote my Summer of Basics planning post, I have found some others who have made this particular sweatshirt – Dressmaking Debacles has made two, a grey one for herself and a beautiful mustard-coloured one for her daughter.  Coco’s loft has made this black version where she has stitched the sleeve pleats down and added a facing so that the zip tape doesn’t show. What great finishing touches!

Burda 01/2018 119 hoodie

The instructions with Burda, as always are brief, but I didn’t find too many difficulties with them. I did find certain things tricky such as making sure that the side seams were tidy with the edging aligned. I sewed them in place first on my machine and then used the overlocker. Getting the pockets lined up either side of the zip was tricky too. The method I used was to align the top and bottom of the pockets and when I found that the hem didn’t quite line up, I unpicked the hem of the side that appeared longer, trimmed it and reattached the binding. This seemed to work well.


The used the same fabric as the outside for inside the hood, but I think that perhaps using a jersey for the inside would have made the hood less bulky. Perhaps I’ll enjoy this extra thickness more in the winter. The hood, though is a good size as you can see:

Burda #119 Hoodie

Burda #119 Hoodie

I have only worn this hoodie for the purpose of photographing my endeavours. It feels very cosy (although with this heat, I’m not appreciating that!) It’s also sufficiently oversized and I believe my yoga movements will be accomplished with ease. The basement Yoga Studio that I go to is always cool in the winter so an extra layer will be handy.


#SummerOfBasics Yoga Socks

This is my first make for the #SummerofBasics challenge hosting by Fringe Association. I entered last year, but didn’t quite make my deadline. I realised that knitting (incompetently) in a hurry is not my forte so this year I’ve decided to make my knitted item first.

My “basics” this year are essentially a yoga outfit in a blue/ grey colour scheme. This outfit will include a sweatshirt hoodie, yoga pants (I’m English so perhaps I should say yoga trousers, is that a term people use?) and a pair of yoga socks.

I finished the yoga socks just before the hot weather struck. This is quite fortunate as knitting wool in hot weather is horrible and tricky. The socks I knitted are using a free pattern I found on Ravelry by Patons.

The pattern is quite simple pattern. It uses some ribbing, a pattern using knit and purl stitches and increasing and decreasing. I’m not a confident knitter and the last item I knitted was this hat. The hat was definitely more fancy to make, but this was a make from a Craftsy video which made me far more confident. Any doubts and I could just watch the video again.

In contrast I had just the knitting pattern for these yoga socks, but I found that I was able to understand this. Much that I enjoyed using the Craftsy video, it did make the whole knitting process very long-winded. I was thankful that this project was simple and I could just get on without reference to videos.

The yarn was a 75% wool yarn which came originally from a sock knitting kit in Lidl. I’d picked this kit up years ago with the aim of learning to knit. I’ve finally used it! There’s still some more of the yarn, perhaps I could make a pair of ordinary socks with it? I wish Lidl still sold this kit, as I really like the yarn and it was ridiculously cheap for 75% wool yarn. I would definitely recommend picking up these kits if you see them in the store.

There was one tricky aspect to the project and that was getting the tension even, when knitting in the round on four needles. One sock is slightly wider than the other, but I don’t think it is too noticeable.

I haven’t really used the socks yet at yoga, but I tried them on and they are comfortable and warm. Perfect for my feet, which seem like icicles most of the year. That said I took this photo today (or rather Mr Steely did, as I can’t take photos of my own feet at this angle!) and it is 30 degrees outside. Definitely not the weather to be wearing woollen socks!

Completed Yoga Socks

My next garment will be the hoodie. I have already picked my pattern and ordered my fabric. I made a sweatshirt earlier in the year and enjoyed that sewing experience, so I can’t wait.


Summer of Basics 2018 Plan

Last year I entered the Summer of Basics challenge. I entered it a bit late and I hadn’t really been planning to enter it at all. In the end I didn’t finish on time as I just couldn’t knit my last item, a hat, before the deadline.

I’ve noticed that this contest is running again this year (hurrah!) and this time I’ve properly planned to take part. More importantly I’m going to make my knitted item for the outfit before the sewn items as I know that I’m more able to sew in a hurry than knit.

After a little deliberation, I’ve decided that the “basics” I need in my wardrobe are activewear, specifically a go-to outfit for yoga. I have been wearing the same hoodie, t-shirt and yoga bottoms for ages (probably over a decade). I managed to update the t-shirt at the beginning of the year, but I require the other two items, plus I’d really like some yoga socks for the colder months.

Yoga bottoms:

First of all I considered making a pair of yoga bottoms similar to those I currently wear. They are wide-legged at the bottom, but figure hugging around the hips and thigh. Here were the patterns I considered: Becky Yoga pant from Style Arc, Yoga pants and shorts from Jalie and Assorted active wear from Jalie

Ruri Sweatpants drawing

However, I hit upon the Ruri Sweatpant pattern from Named Clothing. I was particular drawn to the snap fastening on the hem and the mock fly. I think this pattern will be quite versatile and I’ll be able to make some casual trousers from it too. In fact, I noticed that on the internet there are versions of this pattern in velvet and woven fabric (I think it’s cotton denim, but the blog’s in French!) I like the flexibility of this pattern, because, judging by my past behaviour, I will probably stick to just one yoga outfit and I like to get a bit more out of any pattern I buy.

Ruri Sweatpants Inspiration

Hooded jacket:

For this garment, I was looking for a hooded jacket that has kangaroo pockets, can be zipped up at the front and is loose fitting.  I liked the Augusta Hoodie from Named and I’ve seen a number which use sweatshirting in different colours. However, I decided that a zip closure would be better. The Brooklyn Hoodie from SBCC patterns looks like a good basic design, but didn’t scream “make me”.

Finally, I decided that I’d rather make my hooded jacket from one of the patterns I already have. I think this one in the January issue of Burda has all those elements that I wanted in the design, plus the design has more “interest” with a curved hem and interesting sided seams that wrap to the front of the hoodie. Sadly, I couldn’t find any examples on the web that anyone had sewn, which is a shame.

Burda 01/2018 119


Burda 01/2018 119 hoodie

Yoga socks:

As mentioned earlier, my first make is going to be the yoga socks. I found a free pattern by Patons on Ravelry that suited my requirements. There is  a textured pattern on the body of the socks and some ribbing too. It even looks like I might be able to manage following this pattern. I’ve just cast on my first sock, let’s see how things go…..

Yoga Socks


#SummerOfBasics – The Full Outfit

Summer of Basics Outfit

This is the full outfit for the Summer of Basics, a sewing and knitting challenge where participants sew or knit three items over the summer months to create an outfit that fits the theme of “Basics”. For more information on the challenge, hop over to Fringe Association.

Summer of Basics Outfit

I’m a bit late with my final post (roughly three weeks in actual fact, yikes), but even though the deadline has passed, I’m not unhappy. I have a fantastic new outfit that fulfilled my need for wardrobe basics! I made the knot blouse from a spotted grey double gauze using Burda pattern 11/2016 #105, a pair of black skinny jeans with Burda pattern 03/2014 #115, and a cable hat using a knitting pattern from the Fall 2016 Knit Along from Craftsy from some beautiful Shetland wool.

Summer of Basics Oufit

I’ve described how each of the garments is made, here for the top, here for the jeans and here for the hat. In hindsight, I feel it was quite a challenging outfit to put together – two Burda patterns and a cabled knit hat, when I’d never made a hat before nor knitted cables. There were lots of new skills to be learned and the usual struggles with Burda instructions, but all three were very satisfying makes.

Summer of Basics Outfit



#SummerOfBasics – And finally I have a hat

I’ve now finished the long-awaited hat. I can’t quite believe that a project dubbed as “five hours” has taken about a month! I’m very much a newbie to knitting and therefore I’m a slow knitter. However, I think the thing that really slows the pace of the project down is referring to the Craftsy video for the difficult bits, once I’m underway I did even manage a bit of “TV knitting”, although I expect that may have contributed to some of the dodgy bits in the hat and my inability to follow Victoria on Sunday!

The Craftsy course I used for this hat is the 2016 Fall Knit-along Cable Hat. It is actually a superb course and was perfect for the level I’ve reached with my knitting. It expects you to be able to knit and purl, but nothing else. All other stitches, such as the cable stitches are well explained and if you haven’t tried using circular or double-pointed needles there is help for that too.

The course has three different accessories projects in it; a cowl, a hat and fingerless mittens. I think I may have a go at the mittens at some point in the future, as they use colourwork and that would be a new knitting skill for me.

I thought I would take a photo of the eccentric blocking technique being used – my hat is drying here on a balloon!

Hat Blocking

The most important thing about the hat, for me, is that it actually fits. I do struggle with headgear in general and have a hat that is basically child-sized or freakishly small, if you prefer. The Craftsy cable hat pattern has 13 cables around the hat. Even though I perfected the gauge required, I still took out one of the cables to make sure that the hat was smaller than even the smallest size in the knitting pattern. It was needed – I feel that this hat will sit securely on my head and I will not have to constantly worry that the wind with whip it off.

FInoshed Hat

Next time, the big reveal of my completed Summer of Basics outfit – better late than never!