Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Oh how tempting it is to claim this as my own, quite fabulous work. Wanna know the truth?? My ridiculous husband made it! My ridiculously clever husband, P!

This my friends is a very retro tool saddle bag to go with the fabulous Brooks saddle I gifted to P for Valentine's Day 2013.

Can we be perfectly clear here?

I really think this is quite an amazing feat. P has never attempted leatherwork or sewing before. He conceived of the idea, created the design from scratch (including drafting the pattern), sourced the leather and hardware, dyed and finished the leather himself, and then sewed it completely by hand. The man's talents are limitless.

He knew exactly what he needed to get in there and carefully made a paper version to pre-test it all. Above are the leather pieces cut and awaiting staining.

I suggested he extend the side pieces so that they flipped inside to keep rain/road dirt out. I can claim that little nugget at least.

He used a special little tool to create the holes for hand sewing, then painstakingly stitched for a few hours over 2 evenings. It's really tough on the hands!

He even reinforced the seam ends!

And thought carefully about the stitch pattern on the reverse of the buckle loops.

He decided to keep the back simple and clean and cut slits to thread the fastening straps through.

I'm thinking with a few mods this could make the basis for a really cool handbag.

So folks that's about it. Thanks for letting P highjack the blog for a bit, but I think you'll agree that this project needed to be flaunted shared.

He has quite a bit of leather left and is in the process of designing an attache/laptop/iPad bag thingy. I seriously have to up my game.
P, I totally know why I married you. Handsome, funny, smart and creative to name a few. They're pretty awesome traits to claim.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Finally... finally!

My big SBA project started what feels like months ago. Wait! It was months ago!

And here she is... my Grainline Tiny Pocket Tank, in a nautical, geo floral cotton voile. Without the tiny pocket, because tiny pockets aren't really my thang.

First SBA finally out of the way and what an epic journey.

I finally got down to starting the Craftsy Adjust the Bust course late last year. It all made relative sense, but there were a few oddities, peculiarities, departures from the popular opinion. And an annoyingly long delay in having questions answered (hence the Little Top that FINALLY Could).

There are regularly occurring discussions all over blogland about choosing a pattern size to make  alterations as painfree as possible and I know that the trend for bodice sizing is often towards picking the pattern size with a bust measurement the same as your high bust measurement.

Theory? The shoulders/armhole/neck/upper chest areas can be difficult to fit and so it's easier to pick a size that is likely to fit there and then make bust adjustments accordingly. Hmmmm. Seems to make good sense.

Well this course does not buy into that theory. Not that I could figure anyway. You are instructed to pick a size with a bust measurement that equals your high bust meaurement, plus 2 inches! For me, that means 33" + 2" = 35" (corresponds to the Size 6, and I cut a straight size 6). I've never done that in my life - I've always chosen based on my full bust measurement (34"), but clearly I wouldn't have chosen to undertake this course if I didn't have fit issues with that particular method.

So here goes - whilst not spelt out I am guessing the theory is that generally*, at least Big 4, patterns are drafted for a B cup, where the full bust is 2" larger than the underbust/high bust. I guess the size selection premise is that even though you do not possess a B cup this does not mean your shoulder/arm/upper chest/neck proportions are different to someone with a B cup.

So all you have to do if you pick this size is adjust the actual "cup" area up or down, depending on how generous the universe was feeling when handing out boobs (not very in my case) and the rest of the related proportions will all be good.

I quite like the logic in that. Just because I have small boobs does not mean that my shoulders or back are narrower than someone with a decent set. I just can't fill out the boob repositories. If I chose based on my full or upper bust alone, I may end up with a too tight back/shoulder/armscye/neck hole.

So, since the pattern size is one inch bigger than my actual full bust measurement, the SBA process involves removing 1 inch from the bust. But be warned! The actual process removes an inch from the entire front bodice piece, from the bust point down to the hem. If you do not want to lose width from the waistline and hips, this may become a problem. My waist is teeny, so that didn't become a problem and since the top is swingy the hips did not become problematic either. I wonder, though, how it would go with other, more fitted, bodices. I guess you'd simply grade between sizes.

What I was concerned about and asked of the course instructor, is that if the entire extra, un-needed inch is removed from the front bodice only won't this effect the side seams? My unaltered back piece looked huge against my altered front piece and I was concerned this would cause the side seams to be "pulled" to the front. Instructor's (eventual!) response: "should be fine if you chose the right size based on my directions".

I say "phooey" to that! I definitely think my side seams sit more to the front now and from side on the top swings well out to the front. There were a few photos I took that I didn't include because I looked pregnant from the side!

Bit "maternity"?
But you know what? The bust fits! I'm not sure if it's all totally working as I notice drape lines from the bust point down to the side hip in these photos. Is that normal? Also I moved my bust points slightly too far in and the dart points are right on top of the apex of my boobs, instead of 0.5-1" back. Will fix.

What I really noticed, though, is how well the high bust fits! I have seen many Tiny Pocket Tank makers lament the weird horizontal pull lines above the bust to the armscye area. Go on, Google it, you'll see! I did not get any of these and the armhole is very comfortable without any pulling. So maybe the size selection thing made a positive difference to the fit here. I'd have normally picked the size down and that may have resulted in those weird pulls from being too small.

However, as you can see from side on there is a bit of "gaping" around the front armhole that reveals my bra strap. I found the armscye shape really weird in this pattern and will simply redraft it. Listen to me! Redraft! I'd never have attempted redrafting a year ago.

I raised the neckline by almost 2 inches!! This neckline is cut seriously low which may work if you have boobs or a lovely high bust, but my high bust is bony and does not do low cut well. I'm glad I raised it and I might even raise it a little more for future makes. I also think the hem length may be slightly unflattering on me as it hits at my widest point, so I'll play with that a bit.

Because, yes, even though it was an arduous make (mainly because it took weeks, yes weeks, to get my questions answered), I do quite like the breezy, swingy loveliness of this top. It suits my aesthetic well, and I'd be happy to work on it to create the illusive tank/top TNT. And you know what? I wore it for the whole day on photo day and realised I never once yanked, tweaked, or otherwise fidgeted with this top all day long. Win!

*It is best to check the cup size an individual pattern company drafts for as there are variations. For example, Colette Patterns, whose dress/top patterns will never be purchased by me as they draft for a C cup. That's way too much adjusting in my book.