FO x 2: (well 3 technically!) My perfect boxy tee

One might say that this simple boxy tee was nearly 3 years in the making! Why? Because I discovered an abandoned experiment in my stash from that time period. I picked it up…looked at it quizzically….wondered why it had been cast aside because…it looked like just the kind of tee I’d been looking for recently. So I sewed it up in half an hour and what do you know….it was exactly the shape and proportion I had been hankering after in my wardrobe. So I made 2 more!

self drafted box tee (5)

The first being this incarnation in a pique type knit from Stoff & Stil. I love the irregular sketchy arrows and the monochrome makes it a really versatile addition. The top is self drafted….but very simply so. Rectangles for body and sleeves but with a slight curve for the sleeve heads and armholes, and curves cut out for the front and back neckline. My original experimental one was literally just rectangles but I loved the proportions so much that I drafted a pattern and added in those subtle refinements….self drafted box tee (5)self drafted box tee

Then I liked that one so much that I made another! Also in a Stoff & Stil fabric. This is a slightly looser version. But all 3 (the original, which is black, and these two) are in constant rotation. It’s like I had my holy grail of tees sitting in my WIP pile for 3 years! What the heck?!! Revisit your WIPs people! Seriously….you started them for a reason!self drafted box tee self drafted box tee

So needless to say….I will be making a few more of these.

I also want to direct your attention to the neckbands on these babies. Notice they are perfectly turned in and laying flat? Well in the past this has always been a bit touch and go for me. (wavy neckbands anyone? Ack!) But I have been working on a formula for calculating the exact length of neckband you need, for any given neckline circumference….and any given fabric. (You may have read my initial ruminations here!) Because…it seemed to me that I needed to factor in the stretch percentage of the fabric I was using. A fabric with 40% stretch was not going to turn in the same way as a 60% stretch fabric cut to the same length. Well if my last few knit makes are anything to go by…I’ve nailed it! And there will be a post coming your way soon. So if you ever got frustrated at wavy or puckered neckbands….stay tuned!

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FO: Vogue 9160 & The Eve Appeal + a Giveaway



Cocktails anyone? A couple of weeks back Vogue Patterns (The McCall Pattern company) launched a year long sewalong in aid of The Eve Appeal. Part of this includes a blogger tour which is where your’s truly comes in today. Yep I’m up….and….well….running a liiiiiitle late this morning. Might be to do with all the champagne and peach schnapps I had to drink last night. (My fave cocktail. Dunno what that’s called, lol!) So why the references to cocktails? Well you may remember I took part in last years event The Big Vintage Sewalong….and well….you gotta have a theme right? And this years theme is cocktails! Yum! They’ve even come up with their own recipe and you can sup it while joining in with sewists nationwide, by sewing up one of the patterns from a selection of 20, and raising money for The Eve Appeal in the process. Savvy? Good…here’s me with an empty glass having drunk the house dry…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE (9)

Soooooo, what did I make then? Not being a cocktail dress kinda gal, (and actually not at ease in any kind of “formal/dressy” attire), this one really pushed me out of my comfort zone. But not one to shy away from a challenge (that would be super hypocritical of me considering what I put you all through every year with The Refashioners , ha!), I duly accepted said challenge and this is what I came up with. You know….if I ever get invited out for cocktails….VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE (9)

My Idea of dressing up is heels and a bold lippy, whilst keeping the outfit itself understated. Indeed this make (in a gorgeous grey washed linen from Ditto fabrics that I’m in love with) would look equally at home with a cropped stripey tee and birkies! I love clothes that do double duty don’t you?

The pattern is Vogue 9160….yep…. a jumpsuit pattern….Now I have been admiring the jumpsuit trend from afar since it emerged. But I’ve steered clear as I KNOW it won’t suit me. I’m too conscious of a tubby middle section right now (I’ve gone up a whle dress size recently!) One piece garments rarely do. So my original intention was always to adapt this into a two piece, with the appearance of a jumpsuit, by making it out of the same fabric.VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

I knew I didn’t want the scalloped lace or lining elements of this pattern. I wanted to pare it right down and simplify it by just using one fabric for the whole thing. But I really struggled to find a fabric (in time) that would be substantial enough for the bottoms but not too heavy for the top. Crepe would be a good one I think.  Or a mid weight cupro or sandwashed silk. In the end I decided that the linen was not quite right for the top portion, which led me more towards view C.  A Contrast top and bottom with a tie belt. I swapped out the top portion of the pattern for a looser fitting top in a lurex knit (I’m not a fan of anything too close fitting up top), then set about turning the bottom half of the pattern into trousers by adding a simple narrow waistband and back zip fastening.

But what elevates this make to something dressier I think….is the tie belt. I made a slightly longer version than the pattern so I could wrap it round twice and wear it more Obi style…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

I like…..NEVER…wear anything tucked in. That’s how conscious I am of my (lack of ) waist. But I do have proportionately narrow hips so from a “glass half full” perspective, I try to focus on those instead. But what I like about this make is what the belt does. Aside from the added interest, it cinches me in at the waist and draws the eye down to hip level where I’m narrowast. The overall effect is actually quite slimming and I don’t feel self conscious at all in these…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE


It even camouflages my Mum/crisp/bloaty/bulge at the front! So the obi style tie belt may be a bit of a revelation for me!

Vogue Patterns  are giving one reader the chance to win a copy of this pattern…VOGUE PATTERNS BLOGGER TOUR FOR THE EVE APPEAL - VOGUE 9160 - PORTIA LAWRIE

To enter,  share this post on social media, then leave me a comment to let me know where you shared. Multiple shares gives multiple entries. Giveaway is open UK only (sorry) and closes at midnight GMT on Friday 24th March! Good luck!

More info on this year long event and the list of patterns can be found here and you can find out more about this fantastic charity and their other awareness and fundraising activities here.




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FO: Denim Kimono (+ maybe a future pattern?)

So one of the first gaps I noticed in my wardrobe a few days into Me Made May was a Spring jacket that went with everything. When it comes to a versatile little jacket that goes with everything then denim jackets are a classic. However, a classic denim jacket is not quite my style. So I decided to have a play and come up with a slightly different take on the wardrobe staple that is the denim jacket, but a little more aligned with my personal style. And I have to say, this hasn’t been off my back since I finished it!

Enter the denim kimono jacket…denim kimono diy (2)

So we all know I love a kimono as evidenced here, here and here 😉  Originally this was going to be a longer length. But during construction I tweaked and played with the proportions and decided that actually, the cropped proportions of the body and sleeves were exactly what I needed to complement the looser trousers and shorter tops I’m wearing most at the moment. And indeed more of a reference to the proportions of the classic denim jacket that was my starting point….denim kimono diy (7)

There are some fit issues at the back that I need to address. I ended up taking a big tuck out of the CB to get it to hang the way I wanted. The back neckline needs to come in closer to the neck so the kimono band sits a little snugger to the neck, (which will involve a little shaping to the band itself too). Then there’s the width across the back at armhole level. Excess fabric there so I need to have a play with the sleeve and armhole configuration and remove a little of that. BUT, that said, for something that started out as an experiment I am MORE than happy with how this turned out. It’s kinda my perfect jacket! And none of the above is going to stop me from wearing this all Summer. They’re issues that only us sewists would notice. (Although I can’t help myself pointing them out to everyone that says they like my jacket. Sewist or not, lol!)

I wanted to reference the classic denim jacket a little further by adding little details like contrast stitching and jeans hardware…denim kimono diy (8)

Which brings me onto a close up of those pockets. The long rectangular shape was initially to do with what I felt best fit the overall proportions of the jacket. Then it occurred to me that they were almost identical in size and shape to my my mobile phone!! Which of course I have on me at ALL times because I am addicted. So naturally, they are now sized perfectly to accommodate my Samsung Galaxy, ha ha! Well…what is designing your own clothes about if you can’t add in little details like that to perfectly suit your needs 😉 (And no, as someone asked me on IG, I don’t have two mobile phones. But one pocket would’ve just looked weird 😉 )denim kimono diy (1)

My other favourite detail on this make are the split cuffs. They echo the kimono band on the jacket opening and kinda unify the style I think…denim kimono diy (9)

The fabric is this denim from Remnant Kings, who incidentally are celebrating their 70th anniversary this week! So basically, they were around the last time that sewing was this popular, and they rode out the dry spell of the intervening years between then and now. Which to me is pretty darn impressive. So I’m taking this opportunity to wish them a very warm and heartfelt Happy Anniversary and a thank you for the way they continue to support this blog 🙂 Mwah to Hazel and the team there!


Now, onto the (hopefully intriguing) subtitle of this post! I’ve had a few people on social media ask if I am thinking of releasing this (and previous self drafted makes) as a pdf pattern. Well….there’s a short answer and a long answer. And being of a slightly verbose disposition I will give you the longish answer! And also because I am AWFUL at keeping secrets, and now that the question has arisen, yes. I HAVE, behind the scenes been working towards the goal of developing a line of sewing pattern designs under the “Makery” brand. And yes, this jacket has now been added to the list of patterns that I want to develop further. There is alot more that I could say on this subject, but that’s kind of another blog post. Which I will write in due course. Suffice to say for now, in all likelihood, I will be releasing a line of sewing patterns in the near (ish) future. But as this is a new avenue for me, with lots to learn, explore and consider, I can’t yet say exactly when that will be. I have not yet figured out how long the process will take.  But essentially I’m gradually building up a stack of “personal” patterns that I think will appeal to some of you out there. It feels like a natural progression for me now, to start working towards the goal of refining and making these available online. So yep. There’s my little bit of news. Watch this space over the coming weeks 😉


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FO: Ponte Linden (+ thoughts on achieveing the perfect knit neckband!)

Well what do you know? The sun was shining on Sunday (as it is today, hurrah!!) so I ducked out to get a few daylight shots of this new Linden…I’ll preface this post by warning you that I meander into alot of theorising and calculating the length of the perfect neckband based on the stretch percentage of the fabric you use. So if that is likely to make your eyes roll back in your head….look away now, lol!ponte linden

I cut down a size this time round and went for view B. The fit across the upper bust, neckline and shoulders turned out way better. I haven’t quite fathomed why there is so much excess at the hem and under the bust. Although to be fair I haven’t given it a great deal of thought because I’m not overly bothered. I suspect it’s a combination of the need for an FBA and perhaps that the ponte that I used has more drape (and stretch, which I’ll come to in a bit!) than the recommended sweatshirt fabric. No matter. I still love it and it’s worn as soon as it comes out of the drier. (Also, the folds are nowhere near as exaggerated IRL. I think perhaps the photo being taken in full sun ramped up the shadow and contrast somewhat!)

ponte linden

So…the fabric!  It’s this beauuuuutiful ponte from Dragonfly fabrics in the Bark colourway. Now on special so probably won’t be around for long!. So.Freakin.Soft.  What’s more, I was really taken with the contrasting RS and WS of this fabric and decided to play with that on this make…

ponte linden

Construction was as per pattern instructions…except as I said, I reversed the fabric on the front and back pieces so the body contrasted with the sleeves…

ponte linden

Oh…and  I added a split hem band similar to my Maya top here

ponte linden

Regular readers will perhaps remember that I raised the neckline on my Linden pattern as it sat a little too wide on me. You can read the simple “how to” on that adjustment here. But of course, adjusting the width of the neckline means you need to cut a new neckband piece because the circumference of the neckline has changed. As luck would have it the width of the pattern piece for the neckline band is more or less the same as my 2″ wide roll of masking tape. And you know how I love a bit of a masking tape cheat, lol!

So….all that remained was for me to establish the new circumference of the neckline and cut a new neckband piece to fit. Up until this point I’ve always just cut a neckband approx 2″ smaller than the circumference of the neckline. To varying degrees of success. Sometimes that would work pretty well. Sometimes not. So I decided to delve a little into the maths of the perfect knit neckline. Somewhere, and for the life of me I can’t find that post no, (**update: it’s here! Thanks Gillian!) I read about a slightly different way of measuring the neckline for a knit….ponte linden

Instead of measuring the circumference, you take the total measurement between those 3 points above….and cut the neckband to that size. This made good sense to me so I though I’d give it a go. To give you an idea, the neckline circumference was 61cm. Measuring between those 3 points gave me a measurement of 52.5cm. So a difference of 8.5cm which is a little over 3″ shorter than the actual neckline (I usually cut about 2″ shorter so I was optimistic that shortening the band by that extra inch would yield an improvement)…

ponte linden

So….with my trusty roll of masking tape I marked out a strip 52.5cm long on my fabric (plus a small serger SA)…

ponte linden

Joined it, folded it, then marked the centre and side points…

ponte linden

And lined those up with the corresponding CF/CB and shoulder points on my neckline. So you can see the theory in practice here. The band should stretch to fill in those gaps and therefore turn the neckline in, so it lays flat once sewn. Awesome.

ponte linden

Now, it actually yielded a pretty good neckline! It lays perfectly in the front, but is a teeny bit baggy in the back neckline. Meaning the neckband was probably, among other things, still slightly too long. But seriously it’s miniscule, and doesn’t really  warrant the geek out I’m about to embark on. But sometimes I just fall down a geeky rabbit hole and need to get it straight in my head. So…..I started ruminating on how I needed to tweak my technique and play with the math to establish the correct length of the neckband. I think I made an error on 2 fronts….

ponte linden (6)a

Referring back to that picture of my neckline I’ve now marked in those 3 points as A, B, and C. Now, when I marked the alignment points on the neckline band I just defaulted to CB/CF and crucially, put my shoulder alignment marks midway between those two points. But , (and this is where I think I went wrong) the distance from shoulder point to shoulder point, is different across the back neckline (A to B), than it is at the front neckline (A to C to B). So actually it’s not an even distribution of the neckband around the neckline, but a proportional one….

ponte linden (10)a

So what I’m thinking I should have done (and I’d like to hear your thoughts on this peops), is measure from A to B, and mark my shoulder points along the back neckline according to that measurement. However, moving those points back will mean more neckband length needs to be absorbed into the front neckline. And well….that’s no good because at the moment it’s sitting perfectly. Gah! Which means, actually it’s still too long. Which brings me onto the dreaded stretch percentage…

I actually don’t think there is a hard and fast formula/rule that will work on every project I suspect it’s a combination of factors….and stretch percentage HAS to be factored in. So I needed to work that out in order to try and reverse calculate what my perfect neckband length should have been, with stretch percentage taken into account…ponte linden

What you’re looking at here is my metre rule, laid flat on my cutting table and butted up against a wall so it won’t go anywhere. A folded band of my fabric bulldog clipped to the end of my ruler.

ponte linden

I take hold of the fabric with my thumbnail at the 10cm mark…

ponte linden

Then stretch it along the ruler until I feel it reaching the limits of it’s stretch capacity, and note the number my thumbnail reaches. 15 in this case.

So, to calculate stretch percentage it’s the second measurement (15) divided by the first (10) then minus 1. Which in this instance is 0.5. Which means this fabric has a stretch percentage of 50%.

Now, here’s my theory, that I intend to test out on my next neckline. And again, I’d love your thoughts on this. Using the “triangle measurement” method I cut my neckband at 52.5cm. (Apologies for flitting between metric and imperial peops!) The actual circumference of my neckline was 61 cm. Same calculation as above  (61/52.5)-1= 0.16.  So the neckband that I’m attaching is stretching by 16% to get round the circumference of the neckline.  For a fabric with 50% stretch, that’s less than half the potential stretch available to me on this particular neckline. Now I know, from how the neckband turned out that it’s not quite stretching enough to lay completely flat all the way around.  Which means I’m close, but not quite close enough.

So how about this….if I theorise/guestimate that I want to use half of the stretch percentage available to me, (to get a balance between stretching but not over stretching my neckband), then I would need this band to stretch by 25%….and therefore be 25% smaller than my neckline. So….if I take my original neckline circumference of 61cm and reduce that by 25% as follows 61 x 0.25 = 15.25 then 61 – 15.25 = 45.75cm.

So, if I had cut my neckline at 45.75 cm instead of 52.5cm….would it have laid flat all the way round?  It’s a difference of 6″ to the neckline circumference so it sounds extreme. Hmm…not sure about that one. 6″ seems alot doesn’t it? 3″ shorter than I actually cut it. The finished neckline wasn’t THAT far wrong. Perhaps I should strike the middle ground between the 16% difference the “triangle method” gave me and the 25% figure and opt for a neckband 20% shorter than the neckband circumference. That would make my neckband 4.8″ shorter than my neckline. 1.8″ shorter than I actually cut it. That sounds more feasible to me. Knowing how the back neckline turned out that 1.8″ less in the neckband would probably have done it

In any case, I’m beginning to conclude that using the triangle method of measuring the neckline will get me in the right ball park; but that needs to be counter checked with the stretch percentage of the fabric I’m using. This COULD be the key to getting the right neckband ratio for any given project. (I don’t think it’s as simple as just cutting the neckband 3″ shorter than the neckline every time, when you take into account that some fabrics will need to stretch more in order to sit flat.)  I’m leaning towards calculating the stretch percentage of the fabric, then using somewhere between a third to a half of the stretch potential of the fabric, (so basically 2/5) to calculate the neckband length, based on the neckline circumference. Clear as mud right, lol?!

What say you?? Does the above make sense? Are any of my calculations off? (I’m no maths genius, lol!) Do you have your own method??? Share away peops. Let’s geek out together!


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