Jump to the beat

Sewing soundtrack: Stacy Lattisaw’s Jump to the beat! If I could have sewed wearing roller skates, I surely would have.

Hubby’s I ♥NY t-shirt has had a bit of a rough time over the years, sad to say – pale pink splodges and shrinkage, so off into the refashion pile it goes. Flush from the success of the Poppy Playsuit (she wears it!), I rustle up this number for Little Miss in a couple of hours.

This needs just one adult size tshirt. Cut it out like this – I used guesswork, a pair of shorts and a tshirt to get the proportions about right. It’s supposed to fit loose, so precision not necessary. First sew on the pockets. The pockets are made from the sleeves, so have a pre-finished hem. Gather the tops of the pockets by running a length of shirring elastic through the hem, and gather the bottoms of the pockets with a long running stitch.

NY jumpsuit pocket closeupNext sew the leg seams and crotch/centre front seam. I serged it. Easy-peasy. Then finish the underarm edge by folding a 4mm hem (twice) and multi-stitch zig-zagging it – this is the bit that was the original t-shirt’s neckline.

NY jumpsuit underarm detailLastly, fold over about 5cm at the top neck edge, and multi-stitch-zig-zag that too. This creates the channel to feed the ties through.

NY jumpsuit strap channelYou can use ribbon, jersey scraps or anything else that works for you – I used the sleeve of another old tshirt and made these tapered tubes.

NY jumpsuit straps

I left a gap in the stitching about halfway along the long edge so I could turn the tube inside out. After feeding the ties through, I secure them with a few straight stitches at the front/back centre seam.

DONE. And she wears it. I couldn’t get Little Miss to jump to the beat so we rocked down the street instead! Happy days!

NY jumpsuit in action


Four tea-towel lunchbags – warts and all


Everything starts somewhere. These four lunchbags started life because we had so many teatowels (and much other crap, truth be told) that the kitchen drawer wouldn’t close. So the drawer got a good overhaul and into the bin went four pretty tea towels that only dry one plate before becoming limp, damp rags. Pointless.

So, hating seeing textiles in a bin, I lifted them out and tucked them away in the stash. They seemed perfect for lunch sacks, and I have just the tutorial: Lemon squeezy’s lunch sack. I’ve have been dying to use it – it’s a brilliant tutorial, super clear instructions, a very simple construction method – and it looks great!

two lunchbags

two lunchbags rear

I adjusted the measurements to give them a wider base – that way they fit perfectly the plastic takeaway boxes I use for my leftover lunches. I used John Lewis’s shower curtain fabric for the lining – which means leaks are very water-proofed. The colours of the towels look pretty groovy and the finished bags are clearly not from Asda – or the same as anyone else’s.

I’m really pleased to have completed them – they will be put to good use, as I’m taking lunch into work more often these days (King’s Cross is not great for quick and satisfying snacking) and Marina needs snack bags when we’re out and about.

lunchbag from tower of london tea towel

lunchbag with lid open

lunchbag interior with label

Why warts and all? I have to say, that they’re neither my proudest achievement nor most enjoyable sewing experience. Why? Because I found this simple project really hard. Working with stabiliser makes for really hard, manual sewing, because your fabric is really….stiff!

And even harder to apply bias binding to. I’ve not much experience working with bias binding, and this was my first experience of using my bias binding foot, which I found really fiddly to use. So I was disappointed that the ‘more finished look’ I was hoping for is actually the bit that looks the crappest: wrinkled, uneven stitching and very wonky in the inner corners by the lid.

lunch bag wonky stitching

And I stupidly used a different colour thread so all the non-smooth stitching, wrinkles and swerves missing the inner corners are very, very obvious.

BUT look. They are now off the to-do list, and hey, today, that’s the most important thing. I’m sure as I put them to use I’ll notice these things less, and be a bit more forgiving of myself and my less-than-perfect efforts. And, seriously, I’m not about writing blog posts that just present a perfect sheen of glossy gorgeousness. This was the result of some hard work!

Genuine whip-up – from roll neck to baby hat

baby hat from roll neck

I often read blog posts where something that is super-complex, beautifully finished AND winningly photographed is described as having been ‘whipped up’. I yearn for the day when a few hours at the kitchen table / sewing machine results in a well-fitting, photogenic, suitable and stylish garment.

Don’t get me wrong folks, I don’t not believe you.  It’s just that ‘whipping up’, with its implications of speed, deftness and lack of mind-boggling so infrequently describes my making process.

Maybe I need to cut back on the staring into space and taking on hyper-complicated concepts (like projects without sewing patterns AND future-proofed for body shape changes AND complex fabric patterns that require pattern-matching so they don’t look daft – all in one garment).

However, last night’s baby hat creation really was a genuine whip up. I didn’t time it, but I think we’re talking about 10 minutes. And I’m quite pleased with it – although frustrated that I’ll have to wait at least 2 ½ months to see if I got the fit right.

whip up baby hat on me


  1. one jersey roll neck. Mine is from the irresistably cheap but questionable Primark. The rollneck itself is double thickness with a central seam at the back.
  2. cut off roll neck and turn leftover tshirt into v-neck (much more flattering to my maternal bosom shape)
  3. cut off resulting ‘V’ and cut into 7-10mm wide strips
  4. fold strips in half, then tuck into top of cut edge of roll neck, at corners
  5. overlock /zigzag the cut edge of roll neck, making sure to catch strips in stitching
  6. trim loose threads.

Erm, that’s it. I didn’t take pics as I went along, but the drawings should give you the idea…

instructions for baby hat from primark jersey roll neck

Look at me, look at me, look at me!

crow pose
A few months back, before stout-with-child set in, I had a moment during a yoga class that was vv yogic and deeply UNyogic.

Instructed to get into crow pose (Bakasana), I followed instructions, got into crow and much to my surprise, actually held the pose for about eight  l o o o o o o o o n g   seconds

Totally unable to stop myself, I cried out “Look at me, look at me, look at me!”, reducing everybody in the class to giggling heaps on the floor. Held the pose for a further two heroic and blissful seconds then joined my colleagues chortling on the floor.  Not quite the crowing that Nicki, our teacher, was after, but fitting, nonetheless – why not crow about your crow?
I’m going to follow up with a little more crowing, if you don’t mind: found out my wee tutorial on a maternity skirt refashion is featured on luvinthemommyhood. Needless to say, I’m quite tickled by this. I’d not been to the site before and am really looking forward to pottering about getting familiar. Not only does it offer me inspiration & tutorials by the bucketload, but in a lovely aesthetic too. I feel quite proud to be in such company – and grateful too. Thanks!  

And it’s not the only site this tutorial found its way to – Anne featured it on craft gossip and kindly mailed me to let me know, think liz picked it up and featured it in a list of free sewing patterns, and it appears again on whipup.net. What a gift! Not only does each of these sites offer a whole new bunch of blogs and sites to browse through, it’s given me a real confidence/ego boost. Go and have a look – there’s good stuff out there! 

This unexpected bit of acknowledgement has given me a timely kick up the arse:  feedback and response is one of the great benefits of the interwebs that I enjoy receiving and engaging in. But I’ve been a little lax and ungracious in giving much response to you peeps who’ve taken the time to pass on comments or compliments on my blogging and I’d like to make amends.   

So without further ado, and following the lead of Kristy ‘loweryourpresserfoot’, who is VERY good at acknowledging her commenters and got me into blogging in the first place,  big thanks and acknowledgements go out to…   

  • Pam – Cool. I hope your skirt for your daughter works out – I’d  love to see a picture!
  • misscraftyfingers – go for it. I carry my knitting bag around In The Outside Like A Real Bag and it works a treat. The only thing I’d suggest is if you live in a city/commute, pop some feet or a reinforced bottom on it, or it gets a mucky bottom. See, my maternal instinct is already being put to good use.
  • Trisha, anna.drops, Lindsey, Isra – thanks for the compliment. The top, although a thrifted (heehee – £5, not £69) Isabella Oliver top, is very similar to Meghan Nielsen’s maternity wrap top. Utterly comfortable and totally pregnancy-friendly. Highly recommended – both simple to make and bloody brilliant to wear.

There’s more, much more – but soon. Tonight’s Madmen and I’ve got a sofa space to go and claim. Feel thanked, you guys.

Modest maternity mini skirt

Maternity mini-skirt

After a week of unsatisfying and slow sewing, my quick wins weekend (now a few weeks ago) took shape nicely and I finished a modest maternity mini that mashes up an unworn Reiss skirt with a primark tshirt.

I’m still trying not to purchase maternity clothes, but the challenge of refashioning my existing wardrobe is getting keener. Some garments are off the list for refashioning/cutting up because they’re just too nice and I’ll hang on to them until I get to The Other Side of Pregnancy. Other garments just can’t accommodate a jersey expanda-panel. But when tempted to just go shopping, much of the maternity stuff on the High Street I’ve found so far is ghastly! I may well elaborate in another post.

reiss skirt fabric close up

Where was I? Oh yes – this skirt was on its way to the charity shop. Although I like the colour and the sewn-in swirly pattern of the fabric, the shape just didn’t flatter – too tight. Hoiking it up over the knees, however, turns it into a modest-mini – perfect with tights, boots and a jumper. You can do it too, by adding a jersey panel at the front with an elastic waistband.  

Maternity mini front panel 2

maternity mini front panel

All you need to do is…

skirt with marked up bump

1. try on skirt and hoike up to hem level required. Mark lowest known point of baby bump, and desired waistline at back.

Reiss skirt cut for bump and waistband

2. mark out and cut waistline, following curve of original waistband at back, then general bump shape at front. I cut mine extra-low because I get terrible tummy ache if anything cuts in to my bump.

3. reaffix waistband to back. I put in a couple of small darts at the back to keep the shape for my remaining waist. Tiny bit left!

4. cut a thick piece of elastic – at a length that sits comfortably from your side seams over your tummy. Mine worked out about the same width as the tshirt I was using, and to be worn right up over the top of the bump.

5. tshirt – use whole body of tshirt. You will be using the fabric doubled up, and the body hem as your new ‘waistline’. Fold the tshirt hem (double thickness) over your elastic so it overlaps by 2-3mm. Stay stitch at each end, then catch hem edge and elastic in wavy zigzag stitch.

Jersey panel for Reiss skirt, cut and marked up

6. Fold the tshirt in half to give you the centre front, lay your cut skirt over the top of it matching up waistlines and mark out the curve given by your cut skirt. Then add 1cm seam allowance and cut. This is your jersey panel. 

Panel pinned to skirt

7. pin the lower edge of jersey panel to the cut out bump of the skirt (still double thickness),  right sides facing, matching centre fronts and stretching where needed. Stitch a single seam 1cm from cut edge, then finish raw edge with a zigzag.

8. sew the back to the jersey panel at the side seams, right sides together.

Reiss skirt with jersey panel, finished

9. It should look a little like this.

10. Now pull on your new maternity skirt. Get your boots on.

Which suddenly reminds me of King’s Love and Pride, and feeling a-flutter watching Paul King on TOTP in 1985 …

Cross posted on wardrobe refashion.

About me

I started this blog to help me Get Things Done: sewing and knitting mostly.
But now I have a daughter! So I continue to daydream in enormous detail about what I'd like to make, but squeeze the 'doing' into precious naptimes and evenings.

Can I keep it up? Time will tell!

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