Monday 30 May 2022

FREE Resource: The Me-Made-May and Beyond Worksheet


Today is the penultimate day of this year's Me-Made-May challenge! If you've read this blog for years or you've heard Episode #36 of my podcast Check Your Thread, you will recall that Me-Made-May is the wardrobe challenge I inadvertently created thirteen years ago. Its purpose is to help participants improve their relationship with their handmade wardrobe, and learn lessons that they can apply to future projects. If you have been challenging yourself this year, CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! I hope you've had a wonderful, fun and insightful month.

I haven’t in previous years talked much about what next after Me-Made-May. I guess I always thought that everyone would have different takeaways because everyone’s pledge and challenge was different. However, after reading heaps of people’s Instagram posts about the challenge during this month, I think that there are a lot of experiences, lessons and takeaways that are fairly universal and common to most participants. I realised that there must be a way that I can help people drill down on what it all means for THEM. 

And after some chats and some brainstorming last week, I came up with an idea. And that idea has become a free downloadable resource for participants of MMM. Its purpose is to help us participants gain insights from our MMM experiences and capture the lessons we’ve learnt. It’s called the Me-Made-May and Beyond worksheet.

So here’s how you can get hold of it: sign up to the CYT newsletter from 30th May and the end of June and a download link will be sent to your inbox. To sign up to the newsletter, head to and scroll to the bottom of the page. Existing subscribers to the newsletter will have had the link sent to them automatically already. 

So get the download, have a go at the worksheet, then please let me know what you think! Email me at sozoblog (at) g mail dot com, or find me on Instagram @sozoblog or @checkyourthread.

Sunday 15 May 2022

Leopard Print Ginger Jeans and a Realisation

It's slowly been dawning on me that I can't really wear the style of jeans that I prefer, and also feel comfortable AND have them stay on my body properly. And honestly, I think this has always been the case. What I mean by this is that, the slim/skinny legged jeans with a low-rise, hipster waistline which I love the look of just don't work for my body. I've always had a bit of a tum, even when I was in my 20s and weighed the least in my adult life. I've always found the waistline of jeans cut in to my tum uncomfortably. I got so used to undoing the top button of my jeans each time I sat down after years of doing so, but I've grown tired of that now. 

Through the power of sewing my own clothes, I tried to solve the issue by grading between two different sizes for the waist and the hips-downwards. This has never worked well because they end up too loose at the waist and often slip down a bit. 

Having gone on a journey which resulted in my workwear denim Lander pants, I came to the realisation that I need extra space around my tum only, not all around the waist. The full-tummy adjustment I did on the Lander pants worked really well, and for the first time ever I have a pair of fly-front jeans that I can sit down in without needing to undo the button of. 

Naturally, I wondered if I could apply the same magic to a slim/skinny legged pattern, seeing as that is the type of jeans I wear most often. And what I then realised it that I don't think I can make that adjustment on a low- or even medium-rise style and expect them to stay up. 

So what I ended up doing for this project was to trace the high-rise version of the Closet Core Ginger jeans pattern (which I have previously made with low- and medium-rises) as my starting point. I already own a medium rise version which are still in action, so I was able to try those on with the button and fly undone which allowed me to assess how much addition width I'd need to properly accommodate my tum, AND where the additional width should land. As I've discovered through watching videos and reading posts about full-tummy adjustments, I knew I'd also need to add some additional height at the front. 

Because the Ginger jeans pattern calls for stretch denim, I decided not to add the entire additional width it would appear I required, because the stretch content might result in them becoming too accommodating and therefore not staying up!

As you can see from the side view (pictured above), the side seam is pretty much in the correct position: perpendicular to the ground. That's one of the main clues that tells me this adjustment worked. The other is that I can sit down without having to undo the button!!! Woo hoo!!!!

The fabric I used was a seconds/remnant from Fabric Godmother. It's a very soft stretch denim with this super-cute leopard print pattern. I like how the jeans look like pretty standard blue jeans from afar, but the little leopard print becomes visible when you look closer. It was a remnant because a fade mark had occurred along the folded edge when the fabric was on the bolt. I was easily able to avoid the fade mark when cutting out these jeans, however. 

Although I still don't love the look or feel of high-rise jeans, I do love generally how comfortable these jeans are. I can wear them all day without wanting to take them off the second I get home. And honestly I never wear my garments tucked into my jeans as I am in the photos: I did that to show the fit of this garment around the tummy. I forgot to take a photo of these jeans shown seated, but I'm wondering if this adjustment might be of particular use to some wheelchair users who would like to wear skinny jeans but find them uncomfortable around the waist. I'm pretty evangelical about this adjustment because I don't think it's one that many sewers know about. 

Now that I have this adjusted pattern, I plan to make a couple more pairs in different colours to flesh out my wardrobe a bit. Currently I own a few tops and blouses that I love and would pair well with skinny jeans, but don't look good with the two blue pairs I know own.  

Friday 6 May 2022

Free Pattern Friday: Kid's Bikini Bottoms

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one . I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. I also firmly believe that pattern designers deserve to be properly paid for their work, so if you enjoy using a pattern and can afford to do so, make sure you support that designer. Some designers' websites offer the option to make a donation, alternatively you can buy one of their paid-for products. If you can't afford to do so, you can support the designer by sharing your project via social media to help draw more attention to their work. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

When I first found this free sewing patterns years ago, I thought "Who would need a pattern for half a bikini?!". Well, it turns out, me! I recently made my daughter a two piece swimming cossie that consists of a top and cycling shorts-style bottoms. Initially the fit of the original cycling shorts bottoms wasn't great and I didn't have a lot of faith in them working out. Plus my daughter has swimming lessons, we live close to the beach AND we have a summer holiday booked with a pool on site, so I felt that expanding the set would be a useful endeavour. And it meant I could use up some of the leftover scraps of this spotty fabric. Lord knows I have enough scraps. 

Big thanks to Treasurie for making this bikini bottoms sewing pattern available for free. To access the sewing pattern, visit the blog post and you should find the download link buried in the text after the first couple of paragraphs. The blog post itself contains quite a lot of information including additional tips on how to use the elastic and sewing with Lycra. However, I really hate blog posts with heaps of pop-ups and imbedded videos, so I'd advise using the instructions in the PDF file once you've downloaded it. 

(image source: Treasurie)

Pattern type:

This pattern is for simple, basic bikini style bottoms. No bells. No whistles. The options include unlined, half lined (with lining at the front) or fully lined, depending on the thickness/opaqueness of your fabric and personal preferences. The pattern pieces could also be used at the basis for making undies. 

Sizing info:

The pattern is generously graded from two years to fourteen years. A body measurements chart is included to make sure you're selecting the right size for the child in question. 

Fabric info:

Lycra or spandex with at least 75% stretch is recommended for this project. It takes very little, so could be a great way to use up scraps from adult swimwear projects. I used some scraps of fabric probably originally intended for dance wear, and mesh swimwear lining. Swimwear elastic is also required. I used rubber elastic which I feel is less bulky than other types. 


Once I'd navigated the annoying pop-ups and downloaded the pattern, it was very plain sailing. The PDF file, which contains both instructions and pattern pieces, is well designed and easy to use. It doesn't include the layers function, however the pattern pages are grouped into two size brackets so you're not wasting too much ink on unnecessary sizes. 

I appreciated the additional tips on handling this tricky fabric, which many sewers might not have worked with before. However, I do think I came up with a better and tidier (albeit more complicated and less beginner-friendly) construction method. I used a kind of burrito method for both the crotch seam (above) AND the side seams (below), which meant the insides were super neat with reduced bulk (*brushes her shoulders off*). 

The elastic I had to hand was narrower (6mm) than the pattern calls for (10mm), so I trimmed away the edge of the leg holes so that the crotch wouldn't end up too wide. After the faff of making the two piece bikini for my daughter, and then a bikini for myself, this project felt like an absolute breeze. The fit is excellent. 

Would I make this again?

Absolutely! Although my daughter prefers the look of the cycling shorts part of this three-piece set, I can definitely see myself reaching for this pattern again to bulk out her swimwear selection in the future. 

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