Travelling Pants: Sewaholic Thurlows

I remember reading in one of Trinny and Susannah’s books that as a skittle (bowling pin), trousers weren’t the most flattering choice for my shape. Whilst I understand the sentiment, I am un-prepared to lead a pants-less existence so enter these shorts. I plan on making the longer version but there were quite a lot of new techniques for me so I gave it a bash first on these shorts to take on my holiday home in a couple of weeks.

thurlow-titleThe Pattern: Sewaholic 1203 Thurlow Trousers

Size + Alterations: I made a size 16 with a 1/2 inch added to each of the side and in-seams and 1 inch to the length. I left off the belt loops as I wouldn’t wear a belt with these anyway and lastly I made a mistake with the waistband (more on that later) so the pointed edge is outermost on these.

The Fabric: Mustard (the cooler khaki) Cotton Sateen from Walthamstow Market. Navy gingham for the lining.

Time to Make: Much quicker than I thought – I started cutting them out about 4pm and worked until 10pm then finished them in the morning so all up about 8 hours including cutting out.

photoNew Skills: Welt Pockets and inserting a front fly – very glad I made a muslin first as there is still a bit of practise to be done.

thurlow-detailsFavourite Features: As always Tasia’s instructions are one of the best – I know I can follow them blindly step-by-step and it’ll all come together. Other bits I like – navy gingham and mustard is one of my favourite combinations. Discovering that a blind-hem foot can be adapted for edge-stitching on the cuffs.


Ch-ch-ch-changes:  The seat still needs a little more room and I think I need to transfer a bit from the vertical part of the crotch curve to the horizontal at the front. I also, totally faffed-up the waistband/fly – NB: when the pattern piece says ‘cut 1 right side up’ it’s talking  about the pattern paper not the fabric – doh! This meant that my left and right waistbands (each has it’s own pattern piece) are reversed. I made do and put the pointed piece on the outside but I had to improvise because the length wasn’t sufficient for finishing the top edge of the fly facing.

thurlow-flyFirst Worn: Around home – it’s fricking freezing out there!

Repeatability: Definitely. I have some grey suiting ready to go for the full length version.

Sew Grateful: Tasia for making all the new techniques straightforward and un-intimidating. Lauren for her amazing sew-a-long posts and inspiration.

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Thinking About: Orla Kiely

Thinking about Orla Kiely’s Autumn/Winter 13 presentation.

orla-collarsroxanne blouse – victory patterns // orla kiely pleated collar blouse via wishwishwish

orla-sweaterorla kiely aw13  via memoirmode // sublime stitching forest friends embroidery design // vintage sweater via etsy

orla-brocadeorla kiely aw13 via wishwishwish // burdastyle march 2013 brocade dress with petersham ribbon

orla-t-strapsorla kiely aw13 via wishwishwish // kurt geiger daphine t-straps in black + nude

orla-coatorla kiely aw13 via betty magazine // burdastyle january 2013 calf length coat // margot tenenbaum

Orla Kiely Presentation LFW AW/13 from James Hatt on Vimeo.

Other thoughts this week:

  • Lots of love to everyone for the thoughtful comments on my bombshell bodice – made me all warm and fuzzy!
  • I’ve been on holiday this week which equalled lots of instagram time-wastage
  • Gertie released two new patterns for Butterick and announced a second book – busy lady!


  • Tilly will be teaching two new classes at my local sewing store Raystitch including her very own Mathilde blouse
  • Vicki’s mapping the whole damn world or at least the important sewing people in it – add yourself here

Have a lovely and peaceful weekend x

ps. want to know what the models were really typing at orla kiely…


Gertie’s Bombshell Bodice


The Pattern: BurdaStyle 07/2011 #132

Size + Alterations: I started with a size 48 but I followed Gertie’s Craftsy Course for the fitting so the actual size is anyone’s guess. I took quite a lot out of the back panels and the three-piece cup changed shape dramatically.

The Fabric: Oh, I splurged for this ;) 1.5m of Anna Maria Horner’s Turn of Events Voile and the same of medium weight cotton  both from the lovely folks at Raystitch.

Time to Make: I was on a bit of a deadline for this project so it was quite intense. I completed it during evenings for a week and over a weekend. Using the craftsy course was great as it broke it into manageable chunks but there’s no escaping the fact that there is a lot of hand sewing and fitting involved.


New Skills: Too many to count thanks to following the course – thread tracing, draping the cups, properly underlining, boning, joining the lining by hand.

bombshell-4x4Favourite Features: The fabric is just dreamy to work with and I love the way the zipper works – I hate the feeling of a side zipper tab under my arm so I inserted it upside down. It now sits at the bottom when zipped up.

Ch-ch-ch-changes: In hindsight, I made the cups a little shallow. It fits because they are quite wide but the centre panel doesn’t sit flat on my chest. The bodice is really a work of engineering because of the weight it needs to support so next time I would trace off the cups of a well fitting bra as the starting point.


First Worn: Eek, I haven’t yet. I chickened out of wearing it to the black-tie even as it was work related and this felt a little too booby-liscious. I’m working on building up my cahones to wear it in public.

Repeatability: Well I don’t really need another for the reasons above but for the learning experience – absolutely!

Sew Grateful: Thanks to Gertie for being a kick-ass teacher on the course.

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The Pattern: Sewaholic Cambie View A

Size and Alterations: Size 14 at the shoulders grading to 16 at the waist and hips. 1 1/2 inch full bust adjustment which added side-seam bust darts.

The Fabric: Cotton Sateen purchased over a year ago on Goldhawk road. Oh yes, the magical meet-up fabric finally made it out of the stash!

Time to Make: This was much quicker than I anticipated despite having 20 darts to sew once I’d added the FBA. All up about 4 and a half hours excluding cutting it out. Though I must give a shout-out to Jen’s chaining tutorial at Grainline – serious game changer people!


Favourite Features: Too many to choose from! The pockets are genius - though I would recommend reinforcing the stitching at the top and side edges, if you’re like me and always keep your hands in them. The fabric was a dream – sturdy and dependable making it easy to sew. Also, one of the things Tasia’s patterns always excel at – neat tricks for finishing the inside as nicely as the outside.


Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes: I think I could have started with a size 12 at the shoulders as they are a little big and the top of the sweet heart neckline gapes. I really like the look of Tasia’s samples and I think this would make the difference.


First worn: Quarter Brief work function

Repeatability: For sure.

Gertie’s Bombshell Dress Intensive

Long story; short? I have one week to make a dress for a black-tie masquerade event for work. Finally an excuse to put the Craftsy course purchased a year ago to work.

Day One: Planning

Remember this Louis Vuitton collection? Easy inspiration.

Louis Vuitton Fall 2010 via


Guilded Colette Lily

Another summer sewing project, this dress was made in a hurry but is still my favourite dress of the season.

From the front

The fabric was a serendipitous find from Walthamstow market at only a pound a meter. I have a sneaking suspicion it may have been a home dec cloth but this dress would not be defeated by such definitions. It has a thick slub like weft thread and a shiny warp and seems slightly mustard and green-gold depending on the light. These photos were taken in the sunny kitchen so they look more yellow.

The back – ignore the black zip – I was in hurry

The pattern is Colette’s Lily, one I overlooked in favour of the clever Hazel when the spring patterns were released. In hindsight, what a silly mistake. This pattern is fantastic, hugging all the right places and with pocket construction reminiscent of the Rooibos to top it off.


I made it in a rush for a work team dinner but I’m determined to find more excuses to wear it now!

Double-knit Pencil Skirt

In a bout of familial duty, I volunteered today to go on a road trip with my parents. The objective: Empty and clean the small caravan my parents have stored in Petworth, a couple of hours south of London. To understand what a sacrifice this is, you must have watched the film Little Miss Sunshine* (or as I like to call it – every family vacation we’ve ever taken). Luckily no disasters yet but plenty of bickering and back-seat driving (usually Dad’s behind the wheel). At least, these days I am in possession of an iPad and can escape for a few minutes to share one of my summer sewing projects – an easy to wear double-knit pencil skirt.

No zipper, BurdaStyle Jenny and a folded waistband. (Worn with my black silk sorbetto PJ top!)


Sometimes, I sew…


This is a post I’ve tried to write many times but it never quite feels right. Change is a constant as we all know, but some of us take longer to settle into it than others. I needed to press pause on blogging for a while to have the space to do so. The not-so-new now job is moving a long and requires both mental and physical energy with a team of 24 staff looking to me for answers and direction and my desperation not to let anyone down saw me committing to too much and feeling overwhelmed. So for everyone who has emailed, twittered and messaged me thank you for your thoughts and I’m so sorry I didn’t have my s#!t together enough to respond.

So why am I finally hitting publish now, im-perfect as it feels? It’s the oldest cliche in the book – life is just too short for perfectionism. Recently, my 60-year-old vegan, bike-riding, physical-labouring, healthy as an ox father had a blood-clot which travelled to his brain causing a stroke and throwing our small family into upheaval. When I got the call I was at work – busy and stressed as usual – but it all fell away and priorities re-aligned in seconds. He was rushed into surgery at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery where they unsuccessfully tried to break up the clot before entering the High Dependency Unit. My sister in Melbourne flew back to London. Dad is okay, now.

He’s been home now for a couple of weeks and whilst we had another scare* on Monday which resulted in a night back at UCL he is on the mend. We got lucky – he can talk fine, he can walk, he’s alive. We got lucky.

Other people don’t, in the relatives room of the HDU, there were so many conversations and stories of those who had been there for many months and you wonder how and you wonder why.

Dad is a musical person, so his biggest frustration is the weakness on his left side making it hard for him to play guitar and the remaining confusion in the affected part of his brain makes listening to music frustrating. It just reminds you that your ability to indulge in your passion can all go so quickly. So, sometimes, I sew…

*Everyone should know the F.A.S.T. Test for stroke, please share it.