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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Thursday, February 1, 2018

P4P cocoon cardigan

Continuing my commitment to sew more Indie patterns this year I put together this little number, the Cocoon Cardigan by P4P  in the RV last week.

This was the cardigan I cut out at home and then left the fronts somewhere in the house back in Nova Scotia (I am in Texas now long way from those pattern pieces). 

The cardigan had originally been meant to be made entirely out of black and grey stripes. Absent the fronts I picked up some mottled grey with flecks sweater knit at a drive by Joann's and tried to improvise rather than waste what I had.

Once into the swing of piecing I made some cuffs out of some of the bamboo knit I had used to make the head wrap thing a few posts back.

I am not a great colour blocker. 

I reminds me too much of those bright squares of colour blocking that get old so fast when you wear them, and I have never been particularly good at fabric pattern combining, probably because I have never tried it.

However necessity and improvisation is at the heart of most creativity. And it turns out that this cozy cocoon cardigan really is cozy and that I really like the way the different fabrics worked together.

I am probably going to be cutting up different fabrics on purpose from now on.

The pattern is a little different from other cocoon cardigans I have sewn. The body is classic, sort of a big dolman that doesn't meet at the front, but there is an option for slim sleeves to be added for 3/4 and full length versions, and there are several cuff finishes too.

Most interesting to me were that there was a tunic length version and that, in addition to the standard sized band, there was another possibility - a super wide (finished width 6") "shawl collar" version.

This last idea was different enough that I wanted to try it.

Here is the pattern cover shot and the line drawings to give you a better idea:

I decided to try the patch pockets, because it was another fabric change up possibility, rather than the inseam pockets.

Here is the garment on a hanger on a tree in the state park. This should give you a better idea of how it is constructed and how wide the bands are:

On my body, as you might be able to see from the top picture with me in it, the band folds over in half lengthwise down the front and sort of scrunches a bit at the sides and opens up again at the back. Because the knit is so soft it really drapes and the pocket bags droop a bit and are baggy, not surprisingly. This probably looks even worse I realize because I have my hands in my pockets in the picture at the top of the post.

I am sure with the narrower band or a less soft fabric this might look different.

However these are details. 

Unlike most other cocoon cardigans, that are really more a layer for fashion than a layer for warmth, this one, because of the bands and longer sleeves, really is a good wrap for when you need to keep warm. The fronts can be well overlapped if you are really cold and all the fabric of the collar band around the neck is nice and comfortable as well as comforting.

Really I have been very happy to put this one since I made this cardigan. I feel both well-assembled and snug in it.

Definitely a pattern I will be playing around with again in future.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Peek-a-boo pattern's Park City Pullover

As you know I am interested in exploring patterns beyond the Big 4. Over time I have found that some independent pattern companies are simply doing a better job with fit that more closely resembles RTW, than the usual pattern companies, and also give us access to styles that are also closer to what real people are actually wearing in their real lives.

My admiration for StyleArc patterns, the pants in particular, and Jalie patterns is well documented in both my wardrobe and in the patterns I review on this blog.

As a result I intend to sew even more this year and to expand my horizons in as many ways as I can.

So for this reason I decided to make Peek-a-boo patterns Park City Pullover for my husband. I knew he needed a fleece jacket before our trip, all those state parks and campgrounds, and of course all those golf courses too.

My husband is hard to fit, or to be more accurate he finds it hard to fit himself. He is a trim fit guy but his shoulders and chest are proportionally larger than the rest of him. If left unattended, something we try not to do,  in a store he will buy himself XL tops (because they are comfy), completely ignoring the extra fabric that flaps around his waist and hips.

His approach to dressing has made me highly motivated to do more sewing for him. 

So when I saw this front zipper jacket from Peek-a-boo  I thought it would be a nice quick place to start:

I have had good luck with Peek-a-boo for kids clothes and for the diaper bag and diaper bag I made my niece in the fall. 

Like many independent designs the instructions are incredibly detailed, well-illustrated and carefully explained. As someone who has worked with new sewers, and seen them struggle through cryptic standard instructions sheets, I really appreciate any pattern designer who goes to all this trouble and makes sewing so clear and easy.

My husband is of average height but as someone who also sews for very tall sons and sons-in-law, I appreciate too that this pattern also has complete tall pattern pieces - another plus for a new sewer who would need them.

Now onto how the pattern worked for me.


The sizing was great. The large gave my husband the perfect amount of ease in the chest and shoulders but was trim everywhere else. He has more or less worn it nearly every day here on the road.


The details need a little work and there are some changes I would make next time. Here those are:

  • The pockets are the standard inseam tear drop pocket units. These are fine in something with a long side seam but as soon as my husband puts his hands in the pockets they hang out below the hem.

He isn't really that sad about the pockets, just got him looking down in this picture! I actually think this shot makes us even for all those pictures he has taken of me that make me look fatter than I actually am ...

If I were to make this again I would use one pocket piece, sew it to the back piece at the side seam, tape turn and topstitch under the seam allowance at the pocket opening in the front piece and next topstitch the pocket piece to the front of the jacket to make the pocket. 

Does that make sense? It would fix this problem.

  • The collar piece is a straight sided rectangle. You see this a lot but it makes a collar that stands up straight from the neck, rather than being curved into it, and a jacket that hugs the neck a little is warmer. A curved neck piece would fix this.

  • Finally the construction of the band attaches a little awkwardly to the front zipper. There is no way if you follow the instructions to have a clean serged edge all the way up to the zipper. Following the instructions this is what it looked like before I finished the short unfinished part by hand:

I am sure I can find a way to wrap so it turns out more neatly.

So my final feeling is that this is basically a nice, well fitting pattern, great for beginners, but definitely needs some refinement to be as good a pattern as it could be.