I went to Berlin and all I got was more sewing inspiration...

A weekend in Berlin has left my head is spinning with ideas of the sewing variety - I knew it was only a matter of time before something threw off my seemingly good progress with my #2019makenine. The effortlessly cool style of the native Berlin crowd is truly something to be admired, whether out and about in the day, or enjoying the latest of late nightlife the city has to offer. Whilst making conscious plans to dress like a Berlin-er is the exact opposite of effortless and discounts all cool points, I can't help but want to draw inspiration from the city's style and impart it into my sewing.
Berlin style
So here are my Berlin basics. Loose ideas, some already in the works, some already there and some potential future sewing plans. Let's call it a 'thoughtful effortlessness' for those of us who it doesn't always come naturally to...


The trousers:
I never thought I'd wear flares again after the teenage discovery of skinny jeans, but now I'm talking about sewing a pair, who'd have thought it? After my success with the Trend Patterns Utility Trousers - which could also be pretty 'Berlin' in a more neutral fabric/colour - I'm encouraged to try out the TPC10 Wide Leg Flare. Other flares suggestions welcome!

Style notes: The coolest of casual looks paired black flares with DMs not too dissimilar to the ones below.
The trousers
To make: Trend Patterns Flares

The shoes:
Some things from the 90s should not have been resurrected in my opinion, including clompy Sketchers and Spice Girl shoes, but 'ugly trainers' are where it's at. I've never been a big trainer fan, but the shoe I definitely can do is also a Berlin staple: a solid Doc Marten Boot. I already have a pair like the ones below (the Jadon I think?) and always feel 10x cooler the minute I put them on.

Style notes: To wear with anything and everything (especially flares), day or night.

The shoes

The (bum) bag:
I'm torn by my interest in the bum bag - is it just too fashion?! Nevertheless, a modern-times version of the accessory of my childhood was on my #2019makenine in the form of the Fennel Fanny Pack, and across the body of every other young Berlin-er we saw.

Style notes: the bum bag is no longer just for bums or waists and should now be formally recognised in it's primary function as an 'under armpit bag'.

The bag
To make: Sarah Kirsten Fennel Fanny Pack

The coat:
Long, bold in silhouette, yet neutral in colour and design: the people of Berlin really do love an ankle-skimming, oversized jacket. Whilst I could always be tempted to make more jackets (I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to coat inspo) in this case, I think my Named Clothing Isla Trench is already pretty perfect. Now just to work on some toned down styling.

Style notes: to be worn open, and layered - Fall Turtlenecks and Paper Theory Olya Shirts could work!

The coat
To re-style: Isla Trench 

The shop (if I shopped):
My boyfriend said 'they're your kind of clothes' as we passed the window of the Corvera Vargas shop in Kreuzberg and he was absolutely right. I went in to admire them and spoke to one of the members of staff who told me that all garments were designed locally and produced in Poland using only production leftovers and remnants - my kind of brand! - with the aim of reducing waste from the fashion industry.

Corvera Vargas, Pflügerstraße 70, 12047 Berlin
I particularly liked their Tanger Jumpsuit, which I think draws some similarities to the Fibre Mood Carmella that I recently finished (coming soon to the Minerva Crafts Blog). There are definitely a few hacking opportunities to be had with this pattern in the future!

The Tanger Jumpsuit
So... fanny pack and flares... do you think it's a look?

We've been to Berlin before and will definitely go again - the fashion inspiration is just a fun aside to such a great city (which also has a Stoff & Stil if you needed any more encouragement)! But for now and before next time, it's back to sewing, with a few new plans. 



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Fibre Mood Tara Ribbed Jumper

Can you believe that my first knit took me almost a year to complete and this one took less than a month? Yes, I've discovered the power of super chunky yarn! No it doesn't make me a better knitter, but it does make me faster, and seeing my knitting grow at speed gives me even more motivation to see it through to completion (plus I'm learning lots of new techniques on the way)! Here's the Fibre Mood Tara - my second knitted jumper and the second make of my #2019makenine.
Finished Fibre Mood Tara jumper!
Fibre Mood are a fairly new-to-me pattern company that offer both sewing and knitting patterns via their website and their aesthetically impressive and cooly styled pattern books. You can access some of the patterns for free online in return for signing up to the Fibre Mood website - the Tara Ribbed Jumper being one of them - buy individual patterns as PDFs, or purchase the pattern books which come with folded paper patterns in the back. 

The Tara styled with some incredible trousers in pattern book 1
The Tara looked like a fairly easy second knit with lots of garter stitch and stocking stitch, but slightly more challenging than my first, which was made up purely of squares/rectangles. The sizing is a little limited, with only XS, S or M to choose from, so I went with the size M (40-42) as I wanted it be oversized. I picked this Drops Eskimo super chunky yarn in Olive from Wool Warehouse. The low price and huge colour range made it pretty appealing, plus it's 100% wool. After using a Wool and the Gang kit last time, this was my first attempt at pairing yarn with a pattern. Luckily my Mum is an expert knitter so she could check I'd made a good choice and help me to calculate the yardage!.

Drops Eskimo in olive

I'm by no means an expert, so can't talk at length about the standard of the instructions or compare it to many other knitting projects, but I can tell you the things I learned along the way! First up was the Italian cast on method, which I found out is really good for ribbed edges. I've since used the same method to cast on a double-knitting ribbed hat I've made so many times and it's made a huge improvement!


Casting off the shoulders/top of the sleeves together was totally new to me too and made for a really professional finish, plus it reduced the amount of sewing up at the end. I learnt how important it is to do this loosely so not to restrict the movement or fit of the jumper - I'd probably try to cast off even more loosely next time!

Shoulders cast off together

Just the mention of crochet fills me with dread as it's one of the only crafts I feel like I've never really tried to learn, so I wasn't too keen at the suggestion of doing a slip stitch finish around the neckline. I didn't really understand the instructions, but after watching a couple of YouTube tutorials, it seemed to make more sense. It was actually quite easy once I got into a rhythm and it really neatened the finish of the neck. It's probably worth saying that I referred to YouTube a lot throughout this project. The pattern does include a glossary/explanations of some of the techniques used, but I personally found them difficult to visualise without the help of a video tutorial!

Slip stitched neck
The full jumper took 10 balls of yarn and I used every last bit, even ordering an emergency ball when I got the 'fear' near the end. I realised I wasted quite a lot of yarn when finishing one ball and joining in the next, so I think that's something I could work on improving with my next knitting project. There were LOTS of ends to weave in, but I found it to be surprisingly therapeutic!
Worn with my faux leather Ready to Sew Juliet
Whilst I really like my finished Tara Jumper, I would say that it's a lot less oversized than I expected based on the images in the pattern book - the model is very slim I guess, but even the sleeves look longer on her! My tension was fine, so I wonder if knitting it on slightly bigger needles in future would be ok (the instructions suggest using 10mm needles, 8mm for the ribbing). I'd also consider knitting it on circulars next time just because of the sheer volume of stitches on your needles when you increase the stitches for the sleeves.

Back view

Overall, the Tara was fun and interesting to knit and it's great to wear. At £21.95 for a wool jumper I think it's turned out to be a real bargain and has totally squashed some of the misconceptions I had about knitting being way more expensive than sewing - phew that it can be done on a budget as I don't think my bank account could support another expensive crafty hobby! I've already cast on my next project using a different colour of the Drops Eskimo yarn and would definitely recommend it and the Tara Jumper as a good starting point for fellow novice knitters!


I can definitely see the benefit of having a knitting project on the go at all times now and I've started saving some of my favourite patterns to Pinterest. Do you have a knitting pattern that helped you to learn the ropes? Please leave me your suggestions below so I can add them to my knitting plans!


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Trend Patterns TPC12 Utility Trousers

Strange, cool, functional, stylish: a totally random leg flap and ankle vents I never knew I needed in my life or my trousers. Is the Trend Patterns TPC12 Utility Trouser a masterpiece? I think it just might be...
Trend Patterns TPC12
I bought the TPC12 from Trend's stall at last year's Knitting and Stitching Show in London because I really liked the unusual design, but in the immediate, it was mainly to add to my decorative collection of Trend Patterns that sits on a shelf. I also picked up a rich blue denim from Cloth House with the pattern in mind, but felt like I needed to try out a (hopefully wearable) muslin before taking the plunge, as it was quite an investment piece! Including the pattern in my #2019makenine has been a good incentive to get to work with it.

My Cloth House denim and stash corduroy
The pattern requirements state 2.3m, though as with the other Trend Patterns I've tried, the yardage is only given for the largest size. I managed to squeeze my pair out of 1.6m of this orange/red corduroy from B&M in Leeds which had been in my stash for a while. It really was a squeeze and I have learned a thing or two about nap as a result... mainly that corduroy is napped. Sooo the pile runs in different directions on some of the pieces - yep I'm looking at the lower leg piece below the random flap - but oh well! I'd say it would fit more comfortably from 2m in future!


In terms of sizing, my 72cm waist put me just outside of the finished garment measurements of the size 10, but I decided to risk it anyway having found my last Trend make (this TPC16 dress) too big at a size 12. I could have graded down a bit at the hips, but I didn't fancy messing with that shaping!


The trousers were one of the most involved and engaging projects I've made in a long time! The weird construction details, alongside the new-to-me technique of a concealed button fly, meant that I had to put a lot of trust in the pattern instructions. Whilst instructions from Trend often assume some previous knowledge and could be a bit more descriptive in parts, I found these ones to be pretty great! My only comment is that it's sometimes a bit difficult to tell the right side from the wrong side in the construction photographs as the demo garment is plain white!

So lets look at the details...

Leg flap
The Leg Flap: completely pointless yet totally necessary? It serves no real purpose other than looking sort of fun. There's the option to topstitch around it and the front seams of the leg too, but I skipped this as it wouldn't really be visible on the corduroy. It probably wouldn't be impossible to hack this into a real pocket - something to consider for next time!

Leg vents
The Leg Vents: the easiest to make and maybe the coolest trouser addition you could ask for! It's actually a bit cold for such levels of ankle flashing at the minute, but I'd seriously consider applying a similar hack to other trousers in future.

Closure details
The Concealed Button Fly: I hadn't realised the fly had a button closure until I'd fully committed to the project, and I might have let it put me off had I have known (I imagine you could swap this out for a zip, but as a warning, you'd need a big ol' zip the crotch is longgg). This was my first attempt at a concealed button fly and it wasn't nearly as difficult as I imagined. I was worried that this sort of closure might look bulky, but it lays really flat and the finish is super professional. I took my time with the button holes and made sure to use plenty of fray check. The only thing I changed was using hook and bar fasteners for the outside tab rather than another button.

The pattern doesn't highlight the need to attach the fly together at the bottom so it lumped up a bit strange when sitting, but a few hand stitches sorted this out.

Back view
Having been worried about the waist measurement originally, I actually found that they came up a bit big. I adjusted them for a closer fit by unpicking the waistband and back to take a 2cm seam allowance (rather than the regular 1cm) along the centre back. The resulting fit is much better, though in future I think I'd take a bit more out of the bum and could shave a bit of volume from the hips. It's worth mentioning that the waistband itself is curved, which supports the depth of it and really improves how it hugs the body - now I finally get why sewists love a curved waistband!

The crotch is very deep and sits quite low, but as a certified member of the #longcrotchclub I'm all for it! The trousers sit really high on the waist, which balances the silhouette. They're even comfortable to sit in, unlike some high-waisters! The only thing they're missing is pockets - quite surprising for a 'utility' trouser to be lacking in this area don't you think? I'm sure they could be easily added into the side seams for future pairs.


As you may already be able to tell, I love the finish garment, but even more so because of the process of making it. The pattern really pushed my boundaries and I learned some game changing stuff, both design and technique-wise - I so need to make a pair of Persephones now I've mastered that concealed button fly. Thanks Trend Patterns for continuing to stretch my style and creativity! I hope more people try out this pattern as it's just so good - plus the more inspiration the better!

I'm filled with confidence for a second pair in the Cloth House denim, and hoping to go all the way with contrast top stitching too! It took a bit of thinking to style this pair into an outfit as they are quite different, but I can see them falling into regular rotation.

How would you style them?


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Sewing Leftovers: a Jazz Jumpsuit mash up

Here's the final hangover from 2018, an experimental and show stopping Sewing Leftovers effort that cut its teeth as my party-wear of choice for the festive season! I drew upon some of my favourite patterns from my collection and of course, the leftovers of this bargain bin fabric, and was proudly able to dance around my work's Christmas do telling everyone my jumpsuit cost less than a fiver. January's pretty low on the party front, but it's dying for another spin - please someone give me a reason to celebrate!

A Jazz Jumpsuit mash up!
Original garment made: This True Bias Nikko Dress

Leftover fabric amount:  Just over a metre, with a sticky out chunk on the end!

Sewing Leftovers make: A jumpsuit mash up using the bodice from the Ready to Sew Jazz with the view D of the B6178 Culottes (lengthened)

Leftovers-wise what did I learn?: Sometimes you have an idea in your head and you just can't let it go, even there isn't enough fabric left to bring it to life, so... all the cutting rules go out the window. The pockets were the first sacrifice and after a bit of pattern tetris, I started using the grainline and cross grainline interchangeably. This meant some neatening up during the project in order to make my wonky masterpiece work!


About the make:
I'd decided that I needed a pair of luxe, wide-leg party trousers and this fabric came to mind. But surely there was enough to make a jumpsuit? There wasn't, really, but my mind was already set. Cue the most frustrating afternoon of the year, trying to somehow make my pattern pieces fit. The leg pattern pieces of the Jazz Jumpsuit were too wide for my leftovers but the B6178 culottes were a good swap - they're straight and a little narrower so I could squeeze both legs onto my fabric when placed on the cross grain. I had no worries about this as I'd cut my Nikko Dress in the same way so that the ribbed texture of the crushed velvet/velour ran vertically rather horizontally. 


The loose Jazz bodice needed narrowing quite so the culotte bottoms could be gathered in to the waist. I skipped the darts on the trousers in favour for a little more fabric to gather in too. The bodice front was squeezed out of the fabric left between the crotch curves of each leg, but I struggled to tetris the two back bodice pieces in place and that's why - you may notice - the ribbing runs horizontally across the back. I'm all for switching between the grainline/cross-grainline, but I wouldn't normally recommend mixing the two! I definitely had even out the bottom of the bodice, which sagged all over the place when sewn together.


I got the fabric from a grab bin for really cheap because it has some pretty big flaws in it. I'd managed to avoid some of the bigger ones with my Nikko Dress, but just had to go with whatever fabric I could for the jumpsuit pieces. It's not ideal - you can probably spot some of the flaws in these pictures - but maybe there's something about it that adds character? On the upside, I used every last bit of my fabric apart from a few tiny slithers.

Back view - and horizontal stripes across the back bodice!
Having made both patterns before, the construction was really simple, especially as I had to give the pockets a miss. The fabric has some stretch to it, so I had to stabilised the centre back edge with interfacing before inserting the zip. I also tried to stabilise the shoulders with a scrap of selvedge fabric as there's quite a lot of weight hanging from them, but I ended up having to redo the neckline and shoulders as this made it too bulky.


The project did become more involved towards the end, with quite a bit of hand stitching required to finish and neaten it up. Despite understitching the neckline facing, this fabric was desperate to roll through to the right side, so it's carefully tacked to the bodice. I used satin bias binding to finish the armholes, hand stitching it in place for a neater finish. I also constructed little thread belt loops using this YouTube tutorial to hold the waist tie in place.

A Sewing Leftovers win!!!
All in all, it was worth the headache of cutting it out, the risk of dodgy pattern placement and the patience required to finish the jumpsuit because it's SO GOOD to wear! I wasn't sure the statement wide leg trouser would 100% work for me, but it feels and looks so fancy (whilst still maintaining the comfort level of pyjamas). The drape and movement of the fabric has made this idea just as good as I imagined, if not better. I would happily make the same pattern mash up all over again if I had the leftovers for it. I'd maybe even consider sourcing some new fabric for a second version, should the occasion call for it. 

For now though, I have my go to - send those party invites my way!

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Behind the Scenes at Love Sewing - M7661 Reader Review

Back in November, I had the pleasure of going 'behind the scenes' at Love Sewing Magazine HQ for a 'Reader Review' photoshoot and I can finally show you what I made for it, as well as give you a little peek into the process! I didn't hesitate when asked as the pattern in question is one of my favourites of last year, the M7661 trousers (here's some I made earlier)! Issue 62, featuring my review and a free copy of the M7661 pattern is on sale now so go and grab a copy!

M7661 Trousers for Love Sewing issue 62

Pre-photoshoot
Amy kindly asked me if I'd like to be involved a month before the photoshoot, so this has been quite some time in the works. I'd already planed to make another pair with a contrast side panel, so it slotted in well with my sewing plans at the time. I had plenty of freedom to select the version and fabric I wanted to use, which Amy helped me source - thanks to Minerva Crafts for providing both of these. It was quite a tight turnaround to get the trousers made and ready for the shoot, but me being me, I obviously had to give myself extra work by making a Reeta Shirt to match (see previous versions here) from the contrast panel #sewingleftovers.

On set!
On the day
After a bit of home posing, I travelled to the Stockport-based studio with my garment bag in hand. I had my make up and hair done by Nina and Amy helped to prep my outfit for camera - amongst her many skills, she's also a talented top tucker and bow tier, who knew! Amy had offered to source tops/shoes for the shoot too and I had my pick from the accessory wall, but I chose to go with my own. Once I was ready, I got to go on set where Renata took many, many pictures! It's quite a different experience to my usual DIY picture taking set up - though similarly embarrassing at first - but it was fun once I got into it!
With Amy for the editors welcome!
After getting some review shots and pictures with Amy for her editor's welcome (hey guys I made it to page 3...!) I got the chance to get some extra snaps of the details and a headshot just for featuring on the blog.
Professionally avoiding fringe separation since 2005
Post-shoot, just checking what my make up looked like
Post production
And then there's the wait... The issue came out on December 27th (though I think subscribers received their copies a little earlier), so I had to keep quiet about the shoot until then! After the Christmas break, I got chance to go through the contact sheet and pick some of my own favourite images from the shoot, so you'll see some of these below spliced into my review.
Love Sewing issue 62

The review (and pictures!)
If it isn't the 'year of the trouser' for everyone else, then it certainly has been for me. The McCall's 7661 might just be my favourite trouser pattern of the ones I've sewn up this year - this is my third pair and I'd say they're the best yet!


The high-waisted trousers are really easy to both put together and wear, with the different views offering a few variations for the legs - either a more voluminous culotte and full length style, or the slimmer, but still fairly loose fitting leg with the option of contrast side panels. I opted for the latter and a tie waist for this pair with View A.


With winter in mind, I picked a soft, textured charcoal flannel suiting from Minerva Crafts priced at £7.99 per metre. I wanted a side panel that popped, so I had lots of colours to choose from with the luxurious Atelier Brunette Viscose Crepe. I eventually picked the 'Tangerine' colourway, priced at £15.99 per metre and also from Minerva Crafts. The crepe was a little lighter than I anticipated, so I got around this by doubling up my fabric for the side panel. (Eagle-eyed readers might also notice that I managed to squeeze a matching Reeta Shirt out of my leftovers too)!



The pattern has a lot of included ease, so I picked my size based on the finished garment measurements for the waist: a size 12, despite my measurements aligning more closely to the size 14. The fit through the hip is nice and relaxed, especially as the trousers are quite heavily gethered into the front waistband, so it's really only the waist that needs to fit snugly. A little tip for finding the finished waist measurement: check the waistband pattern pieces closely as you won't find it on the pattern envelope!


I made the pattern straight from the envelope with no adjustments. The trousers fasten with a centred lapped zipper at the back, but I swapped mine out for an invisible zip as I prefer the method and finish. From wearing my other pairs, I've also found that using a 10" zipper makes them much easier to wiggle on and off than the recommended length of 9".


This pattern is definitely a good introduction for anyone feeling a little tentative about trouser making, but with plenty of options for the bolder wearer to get creative with. The loose fit around the hips makes them both flattering and easy to fit. I love the contrast side panel and I can see myself playing with this again for version four, five and maybe more!


I hope you enjoyed a little peek into how things went - and a change from my regular red brick backdrop! Do you have your copy yet? Does the pattern tempt you? 


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