Top ‘n’ Tailing : A Guide to Hacking your own unique Jumpsuit Pattern (from patterns you already have!)

Have you ever wanted to create your own unique garment, by hacking together certain features from your favourite sewing patterns but find yourself unsure where to begin? Perhaps you’d like to enter this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer challenge but can’t quite find a pattern that has all the elements you wish it had? Today we bring you a guide to get you started mashing up your own unique style – since it relates specifically to Jumpsuits we’ll be talking about putting your favourite bodice to your favourite trousers, perhaps adding your favourite sleeves and other features … from the patterns already in your stash!

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Sew Sarah smith

September : All Sewn Up! (A Diary Blog Post)


Sew Sarah smith

September, seriously?!?! You and me need to have words! Lots of words…

That went waaay too quickly! If you follow this blog or generally follow me on social media, you’ll be forgiven for thinking September was a quiet month for me as I took something of a step back from posting generally. This was initially prompted by my Instagram account deciding to throw a wobbly (I’ll talk about that more in a bit) but, rather than stress about it, I decided to embrace the idea of a break. It was amazing how much extra time and mental space this freed up to get on with actual sewing and real life socialising and … planning.

So this was September…

Firstly, I sewed three things very quickly and then one thing very slowly.

Sew Sarah smith
Coppelia Wrap Cardigan by Papercut Patterns

Coppelia wrap

The #cosycardichallenge was in full swing and, as I’d been planning to sew another Coppelia in some fabric I picked up from my jaunt to Joann’s back in the summer, I cracked on with it. I decided to size up this time, mainly because the fabric I was using was more substantial and I wanted it to be more of a cosy everyday wrap than the first one I made. I also added an extra inch to the length. Ah, I love it, I feel like I’m giving myself a big hug wearing it and let’s face it, I love a hug! Not a lot more I can say about it this time around other than to mention it’s already had loads of wear; I’m sure I’ll sew this pattern again and again (the link to my initial review is HERE). However, what I couldn’t do was join in and tag it as an entry to the #cosycardichallenge because, as I mentioned, my Instagram account was playing silly beggars.  Nor could I really participate in #sewphotohop this year…

Firstly, I couldn’t get into my account and the Hubs had to come to my rescue to get me back in by ‘reauthorising’ the account on a different device. Or something. Anyway, once back in, I also decided to acknowledge that for some time I’d noticed that my tagged posts routinely failed to show up on any hashtag page, as if my account were set to ‘private’. As mentioned, I decided to take some time out from the platform; and limiting my activity in the short term, I hope, seems to have been sufficient to ‘reset’ it.

On a personal note, it was interesting to me just how annoyed I was initially when I realised my account was compromised. In the great scheme of things, I realised I was more annoyed at myself for being annoyed than I was actually annoyed at the annoying problem!! Hahahaha. But it is ‘funny’ isn’t it. You and I both know that being unable to participate on Instagram for a while hardly counts as a ‘real life problem’ but, that saidI am deeply committed to our sewing community and Instagram is a part of that. I still don’t know for sure what got my account suspended but I suspect it was using the same hashtags repeatedly. If that’s the case though! I do wonder what impact algorithms like this may have on our community’s ability to ‘commune’ at the same level on that platform? What do you think?

As I say, happy as I am to be back, not being on Instagram for a while really did give me more hours in the week. I posted this dress on Minerva Crafts blogger network, it’s the McCalls 6884 knit wrap dress . I also sewed up and posted another knit dress here, you may have seen, the Valentine & Stitch ‘Dune’ Maxi Dress .

Sew Sarah smjth
McCalls 6884 Knit Wrap Dress

Valentine & Stitch ‘Dune’ maxi dress

But what I actually spent the majority of my time sewing was…a dress I can’t show you in full because it’s for a, not yet published, mag article. It involved toiling and FBA’ing princess seams, lots of topstitching and the use of contrast fabrics. I actually wore it to the Great British Sewing Bee Live in London last week.

That was the MOST fun!

Sew Sarah Smith
Jane Marland (Handmade Jane), Alex (Sewrendipity), Me, Diane (Dream Cut Sew) and Helen (Valentine & Stitch)

It was such a blast spending the day with these brilliant and talented women – it was arranging to meet Jane (Handmade Jane), that initially spurred me into attending (and I’m so glad it did!); the vivacious Alex (Sewrendipity) kindly sent me the tickets; Helen (Valentine & Stitch) thankfully agreed to go with me and Diane (Dream Cut Sew) happily arranged to meet us there. Whilst there, we also hung out with and chatted to the lovely Becca (Red W Sews) and Jamie (Male Devon Sewing), plus so many more. I’ll not list them all here because this will just turn into a rollcall…and I’ll only worry I’ll accidentally miss someone off! You were all fab!

Suffice to say, I did try to buy fabric but there were so many familiar faces to chat with instead! And thank you so much to everyone who came up to say Hi! I was bowled over by how lovely you all were.  Unfortunately I was totally crap at remembering to get pictures but here’s one I’ve salvaged from my Instagram feed; meeting Amy (Almond Rock) at the Love Sewing mag stand.

I’ll not harp on too much about the event itself as it’s been covered so well by other bloggers. Given that it was primarily geared to dressmaking, with workshops and live events throughout the day; all the fabric and haberdashery you could wish for and great representation from the indie and Big 4 pattern houses, it really was stitchy heaven. And apparently the show IS back again next year! Bookmark your diaries for the 8-10th June!

Once home, the effects of being this sociable turned me into a non-verbal grunting thing who finally succumbed to the flu and the effects of another bout of insomnia. Joy. Anyway, I’m all raring to go again – October is here and I’ve got all these plans. I’ll stop waffling here though and let you go…

… until next time, thanks for reading









Paola review sewing

The Paola Turtleneck Tee by Named (or ‘Sewing A Knit Too Far’!)

In an effort to build up a good collection of Winter wardrobe staples I’ve sewn quite a lot of knit patterns recently but there are still huge gaps I’ve yet to fill, including a turtleneck. I pounced on the Paola by Named Clothing; it’s an incredibly simple pattern designed for lighter weight knits with approximately 50% stretch. I chose a nude pink interlock jersey from Fabworks and gold serger thread to jazz up the insides. So far so good.

I then traced out the pattern – there’s just a bodice front and back, sleeve and the neck piece.  I took 1 cm from the shoulder seam and 1.5″ from the arm length, both standard alterations for me. Looking through the instructions, Named state they draft their img_3917patterns for a height of 5.8″. I was really surprised then at how short the bodice pieces appeared to be, especially considering the promo pictures. I was actually tempted to add length (I’m 5.3″!) rather than remove it as I usually have to, but in the end decided to sew it up as drafted.

I had it in mind this was going to take an hour to sew up (vlogger Amanda from I Sew a Lot threw down the gauntlet with the ‘Sew a Paola in Less Than an Hour’ challenge) but, well, *coughs* that seriously did not happen. It came together very quickly, yes, but then I decided I didn’t like the look of the turned up cuffs. So I lopped off an additional 1.75″ from the sleeve end, drafted a seperate cuff piece and sewed that on instead. Much better.

Then I sewed up the collar seam at the wrong end – I was definitely rushing – realising my mistake before sewing it to the neckline – there was no way it was going to fit over my (admittedly oversized) head! So I lobbed it in the general direction of the bin and cut it out again, sewing it properly this time. Again, much better.

Then I finished the raw edges of the hem and turned up as directed, deciding to use a twin needle to topstitch it in place. I tried it on. And I hated it. It was too low at the underarm, too wide across the shoulders – I wish I’d sized down. And look at that hemline, it’s almost peplum like – I’m pretty sure some of this is down to me stretching out the fabric as I serged it but by no means all. And it was only just long enough. I debated putting a hem band on it.

Paola sewing pattern review

But by this time I’d realised a couple of fundamental things – firstly, and least importantly, I needed a break from basic knits; I was bored and I was rushing and I needed to step away from this Make until I had the right humour to deal with it.

That said, I tried it on again the next day, still aggrieved, and decided I’d needed to live with the peplum-thingy hem rather than be bothered faffing with it; I was planning to wear it mostly tucked in anyway. And, on the upside, goodness knows this thing was comfy. Think : hugging yourself comfy. And I love the neckpiece, it’s just right. In the end then Paola and I, although not quite bosom buddies yet, have decided to work on our relationship 😉.

So despite the fact that I really do need a couple of cardi’s (The Paro by Itch to Stitch and the Coppelia Wrap Top by Papercut, I’m looking at you), I’m going to sew something in a woven next. Preferably something seasonally inappropriate and impractical because sometimes we need to kick the sensible capsule wardrobe ethos to one side and sew something frivolous for the fun of it instead.

Because you see, that was the second, most important, thing I’d realised; for reasons big and small, I’ve got the blues.

Sew, until next time look after yourself – and each other x

Sew Sarah smith

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