39°C in the shade

It’s 39°C in the shade in this corner of France today (that’s 102°F) and I’m melting.  I realise some of my readers, especially those in Australia & the US are used to extreme heat, but most homes in France aren’t equipped to deal with such hot weather.  We don’t have aircon, and all we can do is keep shutters & windows closed to try and keep the heat out . . . but even then it’s 28°C indoors (84°F).  Anyway, not much we can do.   Weather forecaster is promising some cooler weather as we get closer to the weekend.  I do hope he’s right!  In the meantime, I’ve been mooching around indoors and honestly not feeling up to doing much. 

Luckily, I have some sewing to share with you, of something I made before this second bout of heatwave.  


Lookee here!  I splashed out on some stretch jersey fabrics (cotton & elasthane) and, drafted my own pattern from a pair of 3/4 length leggings that fit me.  I deliberately went for stripes . . . horizontal stripes, because they remind me of the seaside and old fashioned swimming costumes . . . and I’ve decided that stripes can look fun with anything!


So, here I am, and yes, I do go out looking like this . . . in my red & white stripey leggings, complete with yellow shoes AND red ankle socks lol.

legging green

And then in my green & white pair, standing in the shade of our local church wearing my green shoes, no ankle socks. 

I wish I could say they’re lovely & cool, but they’re not.  However they are lovely & stretchy and I am really quite excited to have overcome my fear of stretch fabrics.  


ScrapHappy # July (beware contains photos of dolls).

It’s 15th of the month, time to link up with Kate and Gun and share a ScrapHappy post!

Followers may remember some past clothes-making projects . . . which always provide many scraps for future projects.

Way back in June 2016 I made myself a wrap-around skirt


which left me with lots of scraps.  And in April of this year, I made a shirt

shirt 05

which also left me with scraps.

Both lots of fabric scraps called out to me when I saw a free pattern by Antique Lilac, to make doll dresses.  And since I had only recently unboxed some of my BJD dolls . . . it seemed like the ideal occasion to use a few scraps.  I had said I’d try and keep my doll hobby separate from this blog, and recently started a new blog especially for my dolls: Claire’s Collections.  But since today we’re talking about scraps . . . I’m afraid you have to put up with spooky dolls photos in order to appreciate the sewing.


Hence . . . one pretty summer dress in pink floral for Erin and one in more autumn shades for Kyra.

Erin, on the left, is approx 43cm tall but has quite a large bust. Kyra, on the right, is approx 45cm tall but has a very narrow torso and wide hips.  I therefore made alterations to the bodice part, as well as making a longer skirt for the pink floral.  Dolls look the same height in photos because Erin has proper BJD shoes with quite a thick sole & heel.


Whereas Kyra is wearing a pair of lace-up ankle boots I made, in the same fabric as her dress!  Found a tutorial for that here:  Sneakers.

summer sewing with a smile (McCall’s M7458)


I bought a few more clothes making patterns recently, with our grand daughter, aka Baby Viking, in mind.  She’s 10 months old now and getting about on the floor as well as pulling herself up on furniture and trying to take a few steps.  So, with this pattern, McCall’s M7458, I decided to make view A (the short bodied tunic top) and view E, the 3/4 length leggings.  That way, her little knees will be protected, and the skirt part of tunic shouldn’t be too long that she’ll get her knees caught up in it while crawling about.

The leggings were ever so quick & easy to make and I made a fine job of them, even if I do say so myself.  Made in a lovely orange stretch cotton.

smiley 03

I invested in a special “twin stretch fabric” needle which was absolutely brilliant for giving a really professional finish to the top stitching on hems and waist band.

And for the tunic top . . . a minor pattern alteration.

smiley 02

I made a sleeveless tunic, and used a minty green bias binding to finish neck & armholes.  The reason I went for sleeveless wasn’t laziness, nor fear of sleeves (since I have now mastered that technique) . . . it was simply that I wanted to use this smiley print fabric, and I only had a FQ which was just enough to cut pattern pieces for the bodice front, backs & skirt, but not enough for sleeves.

And here is Baby Viking, modelling the tunic.  I’ve cropped the photo to respect family privacy, but that happy grin says it all really.


ScrapHappy #June

I’m linking up with Kate & Gun today, to share a ScrapHappy project. 

My “scraps” for this project were rather large this time and fabric was actually saved from an old quilt cover that was wearing thin in too many places.  This project, inspired by 2 foot ops.  Namely, the disposable slippers patients have to wear.

I had been meaning to make myself some “shoe covers” for quite a while . . . so that I can keep my shoes (with orthopedic insoles) on indoors, without traipsing dirt upstairs where we have wooden parquet.

shoe covers 07

They might not look very elegant but they do the job!  Easy to slip on over my shoes before I head upstairs . . . and easy to take off when I come back downstairs.  Very easy to make too.  If you’re interested, I took step by step photos. 

To make one pair, I cut two rectangles of fabric 38cm x 35cm (I have very big feet).  Folded each piece, right sides together (so piece measured 38cm x 17.5cm) and sewed a 1cm seam along both 17.5cm edges.

shoe covers 01

Next, I pressed those seams open and drew a sewing line 2cm in from the corner point of seams.

shoe covers 02

Sewed along that line & trimmed.

shoe covers 03

Still working with wrong sides out, I then pressed under raw edges along the top of my “pouch” before pressing under a generous seam allowance. 

shoe covers 04

This is the casing for elastic, so I sewed close to the inner edge, remembering to leave a gap large enough to thread a safety pin with elastic.

shoe covers 05

I cut 32cm of elastic to thread through.  Sewed elastic ends together, before sewing the gap closed.  And voilà!

shoe covers 06

I got slightly carried away and made 3 pairs.

shoe covers 08

Idea being, these will need to be flung in the washing machine from time to time, so I’ll always have a clean, dry pair of shoe covers to slip on and protect wooden parquet when I head upstairs.

the flamingo shirt (or what Claire wore to the wedding)

As you know, we attended my sister’s wedding over the last weekend in May.  Wedding where most of the ladies were looking very pretty & feminine in summery dresses . . . but where I just wanted to be comfortable. 

I had toyed with idea of making myself a dress, but the problem with a dress would have been: what to wear on my feet?  Bearing in mind feet haven’t recuperated 100% from foot ops and I’ve got my orthopedic insoles to worry about.  Anyway, my sister, who knows me too well, had said I could wear what I liked so, I turned up with my smartest pair of brown jeans on the bottom half of me, plus my new (and I think, rather trendy) desert boots.  However, on the top half . . . I did make myself something especially for the occasion.

shirt pattern

Using this pattern, that I’d already trialed and tested twice . . .

flamingo shirt 01

I made a flamingo shirt – yay! 

flamingo shirt 02

Pale blue buttons for the sleeve detail (from Bonne Maman’s button box).  I kept it the same as the previous shirt I made: rounded hem both front & back; grandad style collar, and the 3/4 sleeve which I find the most practical/comfortable.  I really do love this flamingo print, which is slightly whacky without being “too much”.   I bought 3m of this fabric (for only 12€) therefore I have plenty left.   I also have it in a more turquoise colourway so stay tuned . . . more flamingo sewing will take place before the summer is over. 

the spotty dotty top (NewLook 6483) warts & all

I seem to be on a roll with sewing at the moment.  And trying my hand at several new (to me) patterns.  Ones that I’ve had in my stash for quite a while, but never got around to opening.  After the two success stories with the shirt pattern recently, I decided to open NewLook 6483

spotty 6483

. . . another pattern that’s marked “easy” with promises of 1 hour sewing time.  When will I learn to ignore that sort of info?  I expect an experienced sewer would find this pattern easy, and would no doubt run it up in under 60 minutes.  But surely, it’s the beginner sewer who is drawn to the “easy” patterns?  In which case, a top like this will require several hours of patient sewing, and much head-scratching trying to understand some of the instructions.

Anyway . . . I picked a summery cotton print fabric from my stash (this is leftover from a huge piece I bought as backing fabric for my F2F quilt way back in 2017).  And selected pattern pieces to make top C (the red version).  I’m quite narrow shouldered so thought the way shoulders were shaped on this would be a better fit.  As usual, I ummed and ahhed for ages, about what size to cut.  Pattern didn’t give FINISHED bust measurement, only finished length so . . . since I’m rather busty (not meaning to get too personal, but the following proved to be a problem with this pattern:  I’m a 40” bust and wear a 36 D-cup bra).  I therefore cut the largest pattern size which was for a 38” bust . . . slightly worried that the top would be too tight, but deciding I’d take the chance.

Something I learned from this sewing experience is:  check out other sewers pattern reviews on the internet before cutting or sewing!!!!! Because . . .

spotty 01 before

THIS is what I ended up with.  Absolutely massive!!!!  Now, I do have a tailor’s dummy, but I’ll admit, I don’t really know how to use it properly.  I’ve got it set to my vital statistics, but I don’t really know enough about clothes making to make the necessary ajustments to a pattern to make a “fitted” garment.  Besides, I have always felt I’m a fairly standard size. I can walk into any clothes shop and buy something that fits, off the rail.  I’ve made quite a few tunics, and the recent 2 shirts, without having to modify the pattern in any way.  In fact, I’ve used mainly NewLook patterns in the past so I had no reason to think there would be a problem with sizing.  Although, on hindsight . . . I did end up with exactly the same problem with NewLook 6602 in July last year – which funnily enough was also a tunic with facings for neck & armholes.   

Another view, to show you the gaping armholes

spotty 02 before

The above photos were after about 4 hours of sewing.  I was not a happy bunny! 

This is when I went looking on the internet for pattern reviews.  And realised I should have started with that!  Of the twenty or so reviews I read . . . a good 75% of sewers had made pattern changes along the way, or quite simply not really followed the pattern at all.  Many chose not to bother with facings, and just added binding.  And almost everyone said that the pattern sized up way too big.

So hmmmmffffff!!!!  What to do?  I  couldn’t do a great deal about the gaping armholes because they were faced (and should have been cut smaller if I wanted a smaller size) but I did manage to make a few improvements.  First . . . I unpicked side seams, and unpicked darts which were simply there, and miles away from my boobs.  Redrew and sewed darts much lower and longer . . . which improved things somewhat, but not 100%.

spotty 02 after

And I scooped out the neckline, simply drawing a curve freehand and bringing it down quite a bit.

spotty 01 after 

That doesn’t solve the too big armholes or the fact that shoulders are much wider than on the pattern picture because (as said above) I refused to unpick the arm facing and redo that part. 

spotty 04

As long as I don’t walk about with my arms sticking out like that though, it doesn’t look too bad.

spotty 03

Since I scooped out the neckline, I’ve got a button fastening at the back which is purely decorative as, with the saggy baggy arms, and lower neckline, I can just slip it on over my head without undoing the button. 

The big question is: will I use the pattern again? And to that I’ll say: I honestly don’t know!  I do like to try the same pattern several times, in different fabrics, to get my money’s worth, so to speak. In fact, I had big plans of making all five of the different options this pattern offered.  But that was before all the hassle with the first top. 

the “dances with hens” shirt (see & sew B6270)

On 9th of this month, I showed you my first ever sewing project with sleeves and a collar.

shirt 01

made following the pattern

shirt pattern

Well, I was so pleased with how it turned out, I was raring to make a second one.  For my second version, I went for the rounded shirt tails, on both front & back, but kept sleeves as 3/4 and the grandad style collar. 

And just to make things a little different, I decided to use a white “piqué” cotton for the collar, front yokes and the button loopy bits.


Main fabric is a very fun feather print . . . hence the Indian name for this new version of the shirt:  “Dances with hens” lol.


I really love it!   It looks so different from the first version, because of the bright colours. 



Just look how cleverly the feathers match up when sleeves are rolled!


Everything went ever so smoothly this time around.  Collar went on first time.  Sleeve insertion was still rather daunting, but I’d done it before, so I knew I could do it again.  Overall, it really was a joy to make and I am already planning on making it a third time!  I’m even toying with the idea of making the proper pointy collar of version B for my next attempt, despite having said that I don’t like pointy collars.  Definitely won’t be adding a pocket or going for the full length sleeves though.