Sewing Leftovers: Baby Shower Gifts

Here's something a little different that I could've never seen myself sewing: baby clothes. My friend is having a baby shower and I wanted to make a gift for the baby with a personal touch - a perfect chance to sew some leftovers. Outside of the very blue or very pink 'gendered' clothes, the shops seem to have a limited offer of mostly boring white baby grows - my friend has chosen to keep the gender of the baby a surprise. This leftover Chat Chocolat organic cotton jersey in wine, green and pink seemed perfect for some fairly gender neutral but pretty cool baby sewing.

Sewing Leftovers baby clothes!

Original garment made: This Secondo Piano Basic InstincT t-shirt in Chat Chocolat organic jersey from the Solid as a Rock collection.

Leftover fabric amount:  The scrappiest of scraps - a pretty unmeasurable remainder of the metre I had for the t-shirt

Sewing Leftovers make: Baby shower gifts for a friend - a pair of baby leggings and reversible baby hat!

Leftovers-wise what did I learn?: This may sound obvious to a lot of people, but wow, baby clothes are small and require the tiniest amounts of fabric! These two pieces were the quickest and simplest makes. A great way to stop these lovely scraps going to waste by turning them into sweet gifts! 

About the make:
I found both of these patterns by just searching 'free baby sewing patterns' on Pinterest. The hat is a slightly adapted version of one from this trio of baby hats tutorial by Zaaberry Handmade. The pattern is for 0-3months and includes a tie knot version and a version with little bear ears.


Reversible baby hat
I made my version reversible by cutting an extra set of the main hat pieces and flipping them to use the wrong side - a solid wine colour. I thought this added a bit of interest, and neatened up the finish of the hat, which will hopefully make it more comfortable for baby to wear. I used a zig zag stitch to topstitch the bottom band in place, sandwiching the main hat between it. 

Other side!
The baby leggings were meant to be the main piece, but I actually think the hat turned out cuter! They are a little bit bigger, which might explain it - the sizing didn't start at newborn. I used the Baby Go To Leggings pattern by Andrea's Notebook - another freebie - which has 3 sizing options: 3-6 months, 6-9 months or 9-12 months. 

Go To Baby Leggings!
As a warning, the written instructions in step one wrongly tell you to sew the fronts together along the outer edge, and then repeat with the backs. This step should be 'sew one front leg to the corresponding back leg along the outer edge'. Unfortunately I followed it blindly and ended up unpicking my overlocking - the worst of the worst sewing tasks.

Once I'd gotten over this, sewing them was a breeze. I already had a scrap of elastic in my stash for the waistband too, so it was an all round leftovers project. Using the overlocker for both projects made them seriously fast little sews - a sort of warm up to my main sewing of the day, which is coincidentally also with leftovers, this time from this project

Gift ready!
I'm really pleased that I was able to make such unique gifts from my leftovers - hopefully they'll make baby stand out from the crowd when he or she arrives! Making these two pieces has definitely made me consider saving the smaller amounts of jersey that I'd normally throw away. I wonder if the hats would also be welcomed by local charities and hospital wards - one to look into...

I'm sure there're many other scrap-busting baby patterns out there too - if you have any favourites, please suggest them in the comments so we can grow a little resource of possible patten picks. 

In other #sewingleftovers news: 
Did you see that November was Sustainability theme month over at The Sewcialists? 
I had the opportunity to talk about the positive impact that practicing sewing leftovers has had on my own sewing habits. Read my piece here and get inspired by some of the other things sustainable sewers are doing to tackle waste and sew more mindfully here.


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The Good Grab Bin Buying Guide ft. the True Bias Nikko

Can you make a bad fabric good? When I'm not sewing leftovers, I'm a keen rescuer of the questionable fabrics that I'm sometimes drawn to - mainly the grab bin variety. This textured black velour is a prime example of one of those weird need to haves. It's sort of ugly and full of imperfections, but something about it just begged to be liberated from the bottom of the pile in Manchester Abakhan. A luxe True Bias Nikko Dress sprung to mind, working with the vertical stripe texture of the velour.

Luxe True Bias Nikko Dress in bargain garb bin velour
When I pulled the length of fabric from the grab bin, I realised that the stripe (and with it, the main stretch) ran horizontally rather than vertically as I'd hoped. It had a few faults too, where the texture looked squashed out of shape. Whilst I'm not one to promote over buying, in some cases it's good to have spare fabric, particularly if you're buying 'seconds' or worried about quality. In this case, I took home just over 3m for £8 - enough to 'work around' the dodgy bits and to try something else if my plans for a vertical stripe Nikko were scuppered by the stretch. 


I used the fabric stretch guide on the Nikko, and although it didn't quite reach the recommended 75% (it was probably closer to 50%), I thought it was worth the risk of cutting on the cross grain. As with my previous Nikko, I cut a size 6, grading to a 2 at the waist and out to a 4 again at the hips. Knowing there would be tears if I couldn't fit it over my head (this has definitely happened before with some of my Nikko Tops made from stretchier fabric!) I cut the neckband on the less-risky straight grain, meaning the stripes run horizontally. 

Side shot
Back view
In the end, I found that the fabric had enough stretch to fit (I was a bit worried it would turn out tiny!). It was actually the lack of bounce back/recovery that presented more of an issue in getting the right fit. I had to take the dress in a couple of times to get the perfect comfortable-yet-close fit around the waist and hips. 


This is a pattern is so made for tall makers - something I already knew about from last time. The weight of the velour seemed to make this version look even longer. I took 3" from the length and took the side split up by 3" too, though I'd be tempted to take the split up a little further next time.

Spot the fabric faults!
In all I'm really pleased with how this Nikko turned out - definitely my best version yet! I didn't totally manage to miss the imperfections of the fabric - something the eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted - but I think this sort of adds to the charm of it. It fits well, it's made to a higher standard than most high street garments, so who cares if there are a few dodgy creases here and there? After making it, I realised that Anthropologie are stocking loads of RTW clothes in similar fabrics at the minute - 'on trend' at a cost of about a twentieth of the price of the average Anthro dress can only be a winner.

I've always been quite restrained in my fabric buying, but even more so recently. Despite the low price of this length of fabric, I asked myself a lot of questions before committing to buying it. Here's a little guide for good grab bin buying for anyone else who feels like they need to check themselves before sticking the bargains in their basket:


I'm really interested to hear people's thoughts on this. Do you find it easy to be restrained when bargains present themselves, or are you the first to put them in your basket?

Feeling luxe and fancy in my <£5 dress
I always knew I would have some leftovers, but cutting this project on the cross grain meant that I used much less fabric than anticipated. It gives quite a basic dress a real luxurious feel to it - I even wore this dress to my friend's wedding last week! Party season is almost upon us, so this is definitely something I'm hoping to replicate with the leftovers, in either a pair of wide leg trousers or even a jumpsuit at a push! Bring on the #sewingleftovers!

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Chat Chocolat's new 'Solid as a Rock' collection

My recent projects have all been the kind that have had to be kept under wraps, so I'm pleased to now be able to congratulate Chat Chocolat on the release of their latest fabric collection, 'Solid as a Rock', and show you my makes as a part of the launch! I'm a fairly regular pattern tester, but I've never had the opportunity to specifically test fabric before - it was a real luxury to be given the freedom to decide what to make with such lovely fabrics by designer Véronique!
My cosy Chat Chocolat makes
The collection is made up of a series of jersey and soft sweater knits in these amazing prints. I'm normally more of a block colour maker myself, but it's rare to come across such cool graphic prints - I couldn't resist trying them. If solid colour is more your bag, each print has a solid colour counterpart and matching ribbing - a nice touch! I already have a lot of 'wine' coloured clothes and accessories - this Ready to Sew Juliette faux leather skirt being just one of them - so the wine/pink/green colour palette was a natural fit for my wardrobe. (There's also a vivid blue/brown/orange colourway too).

Sample of the wine/green/pink colour palette
Despite Autumn/Winter being my favourite time of the year, I'm not a huge maker of jersey and sweater knit garments - I was even asked to test for the previous collection and didn't know what to make! It took the cusp of the changing season to help me see that I already had the perfect patterns in my stash: the Ready to Sew Jamie Cardigan and the Secondo Piano Basic InstincT t-shirt.

Fleecy underside of the sweater fabric
Good quality sweater fabric can be quite hard to come by, but the quality was obvious as I unpacked it. The sweater knit is thick and luxuriously soft, particularly the underside which has a fleecy feel to it. There's not a great deal of stretch to the fabric, making it really stable, and easy to both cut and sew with.
Ready to Sew Jamie
When I made my fabric selections, Véronique told me that they'd used the Jamie for some of their sample garments, so I knew it would make a good pairing with the fabric. I cut the longer version (View 1) to make full use of the cosy fabric and I opted for the size 38.

Back view
As with the other Ready to Sew patterns I've tried, I found the Jamie to be a smooth make with clear instructions. I was kindly provided with some of the matching plain sweater knit fabric for all of my hem bands and cuffs, which makes for quite a smart finish. The fabric was just right for the project, but I did find attaching the hem bands to be quite difficult due to the low amount of stretch. It's totally doable, but I'd probably gather all my edges in next time. I skipped the buttons as I'm quite happy with the finish as it is and can't see me wanting to fasten it.

The cuffs were particularly tricky as they're so narrow - regardless of the fabric stretch, there's no way I could have stretched them around the free arm of my machine - so I'd probably approach the construction in a different way next time. Perhaps joining them to the sleeve while flat, sewing the cuff/sleeve seam and then hand stitching the underside of the cuff in place would be an alternative.
Cuff close up!
I really like the finished garment, but would probably scale up the sizing in future to give it a more 'oversized' look. I'm definitely tempted by the cropped version too - this might actually go better with my current wardrobe as I wear a lot of high waisted bottoms - but this version definitely has the cosy-factor.
Basic InstincT t-shirt in Chat Chocolat jersey
Next up to test was the jersey fabric - also lovely to work with. I thought I couldn't sing the praises of the Basic Instinct Tee any more than I already have done here (and it's a free pattern!) but it's come out looking even more polished than I expected. The power of quality fabric! The green in the print also pops a lot more than I thought I would ever be comfortable with, but I really like it. 

(T)winning in Chat Chocolat
Wearing the two together is a fun, bold look, whilst still being pretty casual, but I also really like both as standalone garments too! The benefit of having a wardrobe made up of majority plain garments means that the odd bold patterned piece works with nearly everything, so I'm looking forward to getting both into rotation. I can see definitely see the Jamie becoming a warm staple for my cold workplace.

Thanks Véronique for inviting me to try such lovely fabrics. The 'Solid as a Rock' collection is released on 13th November. Chat Chocolat is based in Antwerp, but you can visit the website to find a stockist near you!

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Milan AV-JC zero waste Karma Trench

I can sense a definite shift in tone in the sewing world: growing awareness of sustainability and sustainable initiatives, and with that, a heightened consideration of sustainable means and methods of creating. I started #sewingleftovers with the idea of transforming potential sewing waste into something wearable, but what if there wasn't actually any waste in the first place? The future of zero waste patterns is looking very bright - and I'd argue insanely fashionable - if Milan AV-JC are anything to go by. I had the pleasure of taking my first venture into the world of zero waste patterns with their Karma Trench. The following review is pretty epic, but in short, wow. Just WOW.

Milan AV-JC zero waste Karma Trench
I was recently contacted by Mylène L'Orguilloux, the French designer and pattern maker behind Milan AV-JC, who is on a mission to raise awareness of the topic of textile waste. Having previously worked in the fashion industry, Mylène has now turned her attentions to developing zero waste patterns and promoting the advantages of #ZeroWasteDesign to both the fashion industry and us home sewists. Her journey, realisations and eventual rebellion against industry standard practice is a fascinating read, this perhaps being my favourite take away:

'Being able to see the "zero waste" constraint as a source of creativity is ... a sustainable and innovative answer to the environmental disaster caused by the ... the fashion industry.'


I jumped at the chance to test Mylene's zero waste design philosophy in the form of her latest pattern, the Karma Trench. Whilst I pride myself on being able to see beyond the cover of a Big 4 envelope, I'm still a total sucker for great styling and fabric choices, so if you're not sold on the concept alone, let the beautiful Milan AV-JC sample garments and photography reel you in. There are currently 4 PDFs to choose from, available in both French and English.

Innovative ways of using every last scrap of fabric
I opted to print the A4 PDF, though the pattern comes with an A0 file if you'd rather get it copy-printed. The tiled pages essentially form a jigsaw of all the pattern pieces you need to make the trench and cover the width of the fabric, with just a little to spare down the side. Fears of blunting my fabric scissors from cutting through the paper quickly subsided, as the process was so fast! I was impressed with the creative use of every last bit of fabric within the pattern, from belt loops nestled into the armholes, to the little detail of a label holder buried in the back neckline.


The pattern has been developed with suede/faux suede in mind, specifically the variety that does not fray. I love the fabric used in the sample garments, which is linked in the fabric requirements, but I couldn't find a UK supplier of this or something similar. I settled on the 225g faux suede in 'terracotta' from Fabric Online. It's a seriously good imitation of the real thing and only £6.95p/m - there are loads of colours to choose from and I'd definitely buy it again - but it frayed a lot more than I'd hoped, which wasn't ideal, and led me to doing some tweaks that I'll talk about later.


Showing off the epic sleeve proportions
The skill level for making the trench is listed as 'easy' and it really is. The instructions are all contained within a high quality 15 and a half minute YouTube tutorial, which you can watch before buying the pattern if you want to assess the skills involved. I've never worked solely from a video tutorial before but I really enjoyed the experience of actually seeing how elements of the pattern come together before doing it myself.

The most unusual patch pockets

The pockets are made up of 4 rectangles of fabric and the tutorial encourages creativity in how you fold them to create the final design. I couldn't help but feel that mine were a little clunky when I made them, but they started to look better on the whole once the garment came together. I also thought they sat a bit low initially, but when the trench is belted up, they're just right.


The rest of the garment comes together very quickly, particularly as there are no seams or edges to finish. I came to realise that my fabric was going to fray way more than practical or 'trendy' and I wasn't so keen on the wrong side, which was exposed by the large lapels (the fabric used in the sample garments seems to be double-sided). Ironically, I actually had a good amount of leftover fabric as I had to purchase it in full metre units, rather than being able to buy the specified minimum length of 204cm required for the size 38.

Flashing my facings
The label holder taking pride of place on my added facing
I used this spare fabric to draft a simple facing for the back neckline and front opening of the trench, with quite a generous allowance for the lapels. I also created facings for the sleeves as I couldn't risk spoiling the amazing shape of them with a dodgy hem - they extend to the seam mid-way up the sleeve, where they're tacked in place. The curved hem probably suffered the most in my experiments in using non-suitable fabric. I overlocked it and turned it up to a narrow hem, which has left it looking a little flute-y, but I'd say that the overall damage-control has been a pretty good save.

Back view
Whilst it might defeat the point of a zero waste pattern to buy extra fabric, if you can't find a non-fraying fabric then making these adjustments would definitely be an option - it's improved the overall finish of my Karma Trench no end. In other fabric options, I'd be interested to see how this works in a medium weight boiled wool, similar to the Maker's Atelier Raw-edged Coat.



If you can't already tell from the sheer volume of pictures in this review, I absolutely love the finished thing. The sleeves are way more voluminous than I expected, but with the triangular point on the bottom, they just sort of work! I feel bold and fashion forward in my Karma Trench, and even better knowing that some of it's coolest and most unusual design features - the sleeves, the pockets - were formed as a direct result of working with all of the fabric. I'd definitely recommend the pattern to anyone looking to try something a bit different, in terms of both method and design!

Zero waste win!
Thank you Mylène for letting me try this pattern and totally new kind of making experience. Is zero waste pattern design the future? I'm not sure, but I'm definitely open to trying more patterns like this, and I do hope that pattern companies will at least begin to adopt a 'reduced waste' focus, providing more creative lay plans and more precise fabric requirements.

These projects being zero waste are to some extent dependent on being able to buy fabric in very specific lengths, as I found with my Trench. The only online fabric shop I'm currently aware of that lets you do this is Stoff & Stil, but if you have any other recommendations for my future zero waste adventures, please leave them in the comments below!

You can read more about the Milan AV-JC project here

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Stoff & Stil Leopard Print Wrap Skirt

In quick succession to the last, here's another flounce-y midi skirt, but this one's arguably (just a bit) more dramatic. Whilst I spoke about sewing the trends on Stitchers Brew, actually seeking out the trends isn't something I often consciously do, but this one was hard to get away from. Leopard print has infiltrated my Instagram feed, my mailing lists and my day to day. I've noticed a lot of fashion bloggers parading (probably expensive) leopard print skirts, not too dissimilar to this Whistles one for £99. I'm left feeling quite smug that I've been able to recreate the look for less than £25!

Stoff & Stil Leopard Print Wrap Skirt
The Whistles version!


Both the pattern and fabric are from Stoff & Stil. Handily, they can be bought together as a 'kit', containing all materials needed to make the skirt, even better though, you can pick and choose which bits of the kit you need - I already had the thread, buttons and interfacing, so removed these from the basket. What I like about Stoff & Stil is that you can buy very specific lengths of fabric, and choosing my pattern size auto calculated the amount of fabric I required (size 10 = 2.15m), so there was also minimal fabric waste or leftovers.

Stoff & Stil kit
Close up of the unusual pattern pieces!
The pattern is only available individually sized, which I know isn't good for everyone, but the HUGE bonus in this case is that the pattern pieces came pre-cut! The pieces are made out of a material that is closer to a non-fusible interfacing than tissue or paper, meaning they're really quite durable and easier to work with. There are no markings on the actual pieces - the notches are marked with triangular cut-outs and little circular holes punched for the dart tip - so you do have to carefully consult the pattern lay plan to work out which one's which.



The instructions are basic but functional, and apart from cutting it the wrong way round (so my skirt wraps the opposite way to what's intended) it was a really straightforward make. The steps don't really expand upon on ways to carry out a task, i.e. the best way to hem, but I think this gives the maker more opportunity to think about and apply their own preferred methods. It's worth pointing out that the instructions are provided in multiple languages too.



I love a good crepe and this one feels particularly luxurious in it's drape and movement - particularly when walking at pace! I'd definitely recommend this or at least a similar fabric, as it pressed and held it's shape well during the masses of hemming for those circular flounce pieces.

Back view
In terms of fit, the skirt turned out very true to size, but as the wrap is quite generous, there is a bit of wiggle room dependent on how tightly it's fastened (I'm also going to add an extra button on the inside of mine for 'post-meal' comfort haha). In the past, I've worn wrap skirts that are totally inappropriate for any kind of weather or walking, but taking these pictures definitely put it to the test - the coverage is great! And I guess it's ended up a lot longer than I thought it would be - I'm a pretty average 5ft 6" - but I'm really into the bold look!


Gale force winds = added glamour in this case!
Overall it makes for a really polished statement skirt, at least in this fabric anyway! I'm encouraged by my first experience with a Stoff & Stil pattern and I'd definitely make it again, maybe in a slightly toned down black crepe for more everyday wear.Whether leopard print stays on trend or not, I can see me wearing this for many years to come!

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