Finished: A bit of a disastrous Colette Zinnia

4 May

Let’s just skip over the fact that it has (again) been a number of months since my last post, and that, 4 months into the year, my sewjo has only made an appearance for one day (seriously?! I want it back!), although I have just started sewing a skirt, trying to kick start my sewjo again! But here’s a skirt I made last year, although not one that was a huge success…

This pattern was a bit of an impulse purchase. When the pattern first came out, I wasn’t fussed by it at all and had no plans at all to buy it. But when I was buying the Hawthorn in the Colette black Friday sale last (er, last last – 2013!) November (no, I havn’t made it yet!), Zinnia suddenly looked very nice to me! I think I must have seen a couple of nice versions around, and it somehow ended up in my basket.


I probably wouldn’t have got around to making it up if it wasn’t for the fact that The Stitchery announced that they were going to run a Zinnia sewalong. I decided that I’d make it up during the sewalong to enter into their sewalong competition.


Doesn’t look too bad here – I think my hands are keeping the pouffiness in check!

I bought this fabric in Goldhawk road specifically for this pattern. You’ve seen this fabric before in the form of the tie I made my grandad for his birthday. The fabric is a Chinese brocade and, in hindsight, is really not a great fabric for this skirt, but more on that later.


I decided to make the pleated version of the skirt. I made this skirt a long time ago, and so don’t remember too many details of the construction, but as far as I can recall, it was fairly smooth. I did try to follow the sewalong, but this was the first sewalong that The Stitchery were running and I don’t think they’d got it down yet. The posts were a little sporadic, and it got to the day before entries were meant to be submitted and there had only been a handful of posts. I did contact them then and ask if they planned to extend it, but didn’t get a reply, so pushed on and got mine done. They did then announce they were extending the sewalong, but the posts were too late for me by that point.


Pouffy :(

The fabric was a bit of a nightmare to work with – it catches on absolutely everything. Every time it moved across the seeminly smooth edge of my cutting table, I could hear it snagging. The fabric also really didn’t work with the pleats of the skirt – it just had way too much body. I’d say the pleats need a drapier fabric to work well, but actually I think it would work well in something like linen, so I’m not sure what character it is they need. But I do know my my fabric doesn’t have it. My skirt is just ‘pouffy’ below the pleats. I have tried extending the stitching down the pleats a bit further, pressing them (and then trying to press them out again when that didn’t work), and various other things, but nothing really did the job. The pouffyness is actually worse than it appears in most of these photos as I was trying to get some where it didn’t look quite so bad! Trust me, it’s bad!


Super pouffy – I actually look like I’m about to take off here!

The sad thing is that there are some aspects of this skirt that I really love – I am incredibly proud of the waistband, and the botton closuse – I think that looks really great (although I did somehow manage to make the waistband just a smidgen too small), but I just don’t think the skirt works. Needless to say, it hasn’t been worn, and has just been lying round my sewing room for over a year since I finished it, as I’m not quite sure what to do with it.


BUT, although I don’t have a wearable version (and have yet to dream up a version I want to make that I think will work), I don’t regret buying the pattern, or this fabric tao make it from. If I hadn’t bought that fabric for that skirt, I wouldn’t have had it to be able to make my grandad’s tie, and I think this fabric is perfect for that. Clouds, silver linings and all that.

I might try and make another Zinnia again in the future, should inspiration strike me. In the meantime, anyone have any thoughts on what I could do to turn this into something wearable?

Which sewing magazines do you enjoy?

27 Feb

Over the last couple of years, since I started sewing, I’ve read a fair few sewing magazines, and I thought I’d take some time to share my views on some of the different ones I’ve read, and see which ones you all like.

IMG_9108 The sewing magazines that I most commonly see on shelves are Sewing World and Sew magazine. Occasionally I see a copy of Threads, and Burdastyle is sometimes available as well. For a while, when I first started sewing, I read both Sew and Sewing World semi-regularly. At the time, I just wanted to absorb anything sewing-related I could find, and it was before I really discovered the world of sewing blogs.


Sew was tempting as it often came with a free pattern, which was very exciting (in the days before I had a pretty sizable pattern stash). Sewing World I think I first discovered when I saw a version of Tilly’s Marielle skirt somewhere, which is a pattern she released in an issue of Sewing World. I liked the skirt so much that I tracked down a back issue of the magazine so that I could get it. (Have I made it yet? Erm…)

While I enjoyed reading both of these magazines, I’d find that I’d flick through them, skip over a lot of the articles that weren’t particularly interesting to me, and have read the whole thing (well, the bits of interest anyway) in about 20 mins. At about £6 each, that was a pretty expensive 20 minutes, and I started to think that I’d rather spend that money on a pattern I really wanted, or put it towards a sewing book that I know I would get a lot of use out of. I did used to buy them occasionally – it was a nice treat when I was in Tesco doing the weekly shopping, to be able to pick myself up something sewing-related as well.


I had a subscription to Sewing World for 6 months, and while I enjoyed them (and even won a pack of Fat Quarters from one of their competitions I entered), I didn’t extend it after that time. The issue I had with these magazines is that they were a bit too general – they covered so many different kinds of sewing, that it was unlikely to ever all be of interest to me. Every issue there’d be a number of home dec projects/ideas for sewn gifts, probably a couple of patterns or things to sew for kids, maybe a men’s pattern, and a ladies’ pattern or two. While I’m not averse to doing a bit of home dec sewing (I’ve got a number of blinds and curtains that I need to sew up pretty soon), it’s not really my main interest. Similarly kids, I don’t have any, and although I may occasionally sew something for a friend’s baby, that is a rarity. Sewing for men – it’s something I’ll probably do at some point (once Marcus lets me know something that he’d like that isn’t a coat!), but again, not my main interest. That leaves a very small proportion of the magazine that is actually about what I am really interested in.


It’s cute, but I’m just not sure it’s me…

The same applies to more general crafty magazines like Mollie Makes – there just isn’t enough in it than I’m interested in to make it worth me buying it. I do still occasionally pick up Burda Style, but that’s a different class of magazine – more just a collection of patterns rather than having general magazine content as well.

Love Sewing is one I haven’t tried yet – I won a subscription to it at the SewBrum meet up, but haven’t yet received any issues, so I’ll hold judgement on that (and maybe chase them up)!

A few months ago I picked up a copy of Threads at the airport when I was flying to Sicily. I figured it would give me something to flick through on the flight. That magazine kept me entertained for the whole flight – I basically read it cover to cover, and there were a couple of articles in particular that I found especially interesting, and I’m now keen to try out those techniques.



I love the clear step-by-step instructions of techniques in Threads

I think the main difference that makes Threads so much more enjoyable, is it’s focus primarily on dressmaking. It means that pretty much the entire magazine is of interest to me, and makes it much more worth the money (it also happens to be cheaper than most of the ones I’ve already mentioned. Marcus gave me a subscription to Threads for Christmas, so I’ve now got my fix for the next year – and I don’t have to worry about tracking it down in the shops, which is an issue I had – Threads and Burdastyle don’t seem to be as widely available.


Yes! This was something I needed!

I would love it (and I know I’m not the only one) if there was a UK equivalent to Threads, although I guess the advantage of reading a US magazine is that all the advertising is lost on me and can’t persuade me to buy anything ;) I noticed this week there is a new sewing magazine on the block – Simply Sewing, which is produced by the same people as Mollie Makes. It will be interesting to see if it fills this current hole in the UK sewing magazine market – I’m sceptical to be honest  – their description seems to imply it includes home dec and embroidery as well, and the sewing special that Mollie Makes produced around Christmas did not seem to be particularly well received – I had a flick through it in the shop and decided it wasn’t worth buying, and I know some people who bought it and wished they hadn’t bothered! But I’ll have a look at Simply Sewing if I come across it in a shop, and see what I think.

So, which sewing magazine you read and enjoy? Do you think there’s still a gap in the market? Do you think there is still a place for sewing magazines given the number of websites and blogs dedicated to the subject? While I could probably find most of what is in a magazine on the internet, I quite like being able to sit down and flick through, and maybe come across something that I wouldn’t have done if I had to look for it on the internet. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

A sort of 2014 round up, and some sort of goals for 2015

20 Feb

So after my last post, where I said I was going to try and post more this year, it’s almost the end of January um, February and I’ve yet to get any up…oops! I seem to have lost my sewjo a bit at the moment, and when that goes, everything sewing related goes with it. I do seem to go through definite phases, and when I’m not in a keen sewing phase, my blog reading, blog posting and even my use of twitter, which I use mainly for sewing related stuff, all drop off as well. Conversely, my use of facebook always increases during these phases – seemingly I just can’t keep up with it all all the time, so when one drops off, the other goes up! I am definitely in an ‘obsessed with roller derby’ phase at the moment, and seemingly I only have time to be obsessed with one thing at a time, and so my interest in sewing wanes slightly.

But I am fine with that :) I can’t do all of the things all of the time, and I am lucky that I have multiple hobbies that I enjoy doing – if my interest in one of them drops slightly for a while, it just means that I have more time for other things that I enjoy doing, and that is great! I haven’t been feeling the desperate need to sew, which has also been nice. In fact, I basically haven’t touched my sewing machine so far this year! Usually, when I get a bit of free time at the weekend, I really want to sew, but I also have about 5 other things that I need/want to do, and I can get a bit stressed about trying to fit it all in. But this weekend, when I had some free time on Sunday afternoon, instead of feeling like it was the only time I had to sew, I went over to visit some friends (and their cat!) for a cup of tea, and that was time very well spent. I’ll get back into the sewing when I get back into it :) I’ve got plenty of other projects I need to work on this year, like trying to decorate the downstairs of my house, and so it’s good to have some time to think about those.

So, this post is not the post I sat down to write today (um, and by today, I mean the end of January when I wrote most of this post, but didn’t quite finish it…), but let’s go with it! At the end of last year, I intended to do a round up of 2014, but I didn’t get round to it, so let’s call this a sort of review of 2014, and sort of setting some goals for 2015.

By my count, I made 14 items of clothing for myself last year, although there may be some I’ve missed. Of those, 7 haven’t made it onto the blog yet! At least half of those 7 were made in November/December, and I just haven’t managed to get photos of them yet, due to it always being dark by the time I get home from work! Once I add in Bonnie and Francoise, which did both make it onto the blog, that’s 5 items of clothing (as well a few smaller items – a passport wallet, a glasses case and two pairs of baby leggings) that I made in those two months, which I am pretty pleased with. The end of the year was definitely a productive sewing period for me. Of the 14 I made during the year, 8 were made with knits – I do love the knits for a nice quick win!

My makes consisted of:

– 2 Renfrews (yet to be photographed/blogged)

– Another lady skater (also awaiting photographs)


– 2 Cocos (one awaiting photographs)




Espresso leggings








– Zinnia (a bit of a disaster but I will blog about it soon)

– Margot PJ bottoms (you guessed it, waiting for pics!)

– An infinity dress

And the non-garments (only one of which has made it onto the blog so far):

– Passport wallet

– Glasses case

My grandad’s tie


– Napkins as a wedding gift for some friends

– 2 pairs of baby leggings for the twin daughters of someone in my roller derby team. They were born on my birthday so I feel a particular attachment to them, and they are incredibly cute. They have the leggings I made them in team colours, babygrows with their names and numbers on, and one of the other girls in our team crocheted them super cute jammer and pivot hats!

It was quite a social sewing year as well – I went to 4 meet ups (Rachel’s NYLon meet up in May, Charlotte’s SewBrum meet up, Lauren’s Goldhawk Road meet up and then that awesome trip to Paris (details of which I will get up here at some point!)). I also did quite a lot of meeting up with other sewists in Oxford (Claire, Hannah, Vaire, Elena and Marcie) for drinks/sewing chat/actual sewing, and we have plenty more planned for this year.

I’m pretty pleased with my sewing output this year, not least because I’ve had a lot of other stuff on, and achieved a lot this year in life in general – I’ve bought a house, changed jobs, taken up a new sport, and Marcus and I (ok it was mainly him, but I started it off by buying him the kit last Christmas) have also brewed over 220 bottles of wine and 120 bottles of beer this year!

So, what do I want out of 2015? I’m not going to set myself too many overly specific goals, as I don’t want to feel under pressure, but there are a few things that I’d like to try and achieve this year:

– Make a coat – I made a toile of Minoru a couple of months ago, but after realising that it was a bit small and I needed to size up, I didn’t have the energy to retrace the pattern! I would like to get on and make this made. I’d also like to make a Robson, but we’ll see how we go ;)

– Make trousers – I’ve got a couple of trousers patterns I’d like to make at some point, but I really want to give the Ginger jeans a go this year. I’ve got the pattern, I’ve got suitable fabric, I just need to get the hardware for it and I think I should be good to go. I’m doing a trouser fitting session with some of the other Oxford sewists tomorrow, so that should start me on the right track!

– Make a shirt dress – I’ve been desperate to make a Hawthorn for ages, and I also have plans to make a Bruyere. I get put off by the buttons and buttonholes, as I’ve had bad experiences with them, but I just need to get over that. Or just put poppers on them.

– Make leggings for my roller derby team – This seems like a good place to restart my 2015 sewing given my current pre-occupation with roller derby. It’s a fairly big commitment, but I like a challenge! And I would love to see our team all in matching leggings! I’ve spent the last few months trying to source some decent printed lycra in the right colours, and finally found some from Spandex World. Now I just need to figure out how to get 20-30 yards of lycra over from the US! If anyone happens to be going over there, or coming over here, and wouldn’t mind bringing some over for me if I get it shipped to them, please let me know! I’ll happily pay for an extra case on the flight, and reward you suitably ;)

When looking through my blog for what items I’d made last year, I came across the goals I set myself for last year, which I had completely forgotten about! But having a quick look at those, I haven’t done too badly:

1. Conquer fit!

Ish…I definitely did this on my Sew Dolly Clackett Anna, but other than that, I haven’t really needed to. I have been sewing a lot of knits, at least in part because I wanted quick wins, and then meant avoiding dealing with fitting issues. I still want to try and get a few more fitting alterations nailed, but knits work for me too!

2. Attend some blogger meet ups

Definitely did this one, and they were all awesome!

3. Actually finish my projects

I’ve been much better at doing this – mainly I think because I was often sewing things to deadlines because I wanted to wear them for a particular event, and so not finishing them was not an option! Not been quite so good at finishing my blog posts…

4. Make the most of my sewing time

I’ve got a bit better at this, having a dedicated space has certainly helped, although my space is far from completely organised. Still room for improvement, but I’ve made progress.

So it’s been a slow start to the year sewing wise, but it’s given me some time to focus on other stuff, and I have no doubt that my sewjo will return vengeance at some point! Right, I’m going to hurry up and publish this post before it sits in my drafts folder for another month! Have a great weekend everyone!

chinelo bally

Dressmaker| Author| Blogger| Freehand cutter


Sewing, quilting and pattern making

Red Hot Rosie

Sewing Vintage for Dummies (that'd be Me)

Laura After Midnight

Behind the seams at Midnight Costume Services!


ZEGNA ASTON handmade

Sarabwritings's Blog

Life's Musings...being unemployed, starting out as a freelancer, and planning a wedding


A topnotch site

Feel the fear and sew it anyway

Don't be afraid - it's only fabric!

Dresses & Me

I love to sew

Drama Queen Seams

Where handmade is back in style...

Awesome Åshild

Did You Do A "Something Every Day" Today?

Buzy Day

The adventure of NikkiM


Late comer to climbing and want to share that experience with others

What Would Nancy Drew Wear?

Adventures in sewing and other crafty endeavours.

I want to be a turtle

Adventures in sewing and other crafty endeavours.

Molly's Sewing and Garage Sale Adventures

Adventures in sewing and other crafty endeavours.

Tea For Two

Adventures in sewing and other crafty endeavours.

Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing

Adventures in sewing and other crafty endeavours.

Tilly and the Buttons

Adventures in sewing and other crafty endeavours.

'So, Zo...'

Adventures in sewing and other crafty endeavours.

Cation Designs

Adventures in sewing and other crafty endeavours.

A Stitching Odyssey

Adventures in sewing and other crafty endeavours.