cecilia in red: yoga bag from lotta everyday style

this is the second thing i’ve made from LOTTA EVERYDAY STYLE (book by lotta jansdotter).* and the third is already cut out (her name’s wilma). the simplicity is lovely and smart at the same time.

CECILIA is made from only two pattern pieces, and roughly a meter of canvas. my choice of red canvas is not very original (the sample in the book is red, too) but, well, red is just a nice color i guess! i bound the edges on the inside in baby blue instead of zigzagging them, but that’s the only thing i’ve changed construction-wise. i like the things to be made to last and if i’ve got the time i enjoy finishing them properly.


ahh and topstitching is such a pleasure (nice long straps!).


very basic, very bright and very useful. now i just have to ease back into practising yoga (hey, baby).

let me add that i am of average height, not tall but fairly average. this bag is big, ok!



fabric: about 1m of red cotton canvas

* the first thing i made was the patchwork scarf. i made it for jana (instagram @janavalach) , my secret valentine this year. i mostly used leftovers from shirtmaking, so here’s a bonus picture! i made the tag based on the hashtag #2016sve.


thank you for stopping by!


colorblocked: hemlock tee

almost everyone has made a hemlock tee! for a reason. the hemlock was actually one of the first knit projects i tackled when i got my serger two years ago. the fact that there are only straight seams (except for the neckband, that is) made it the perfect project to practise sewing with an engaged knife. man, that knife can be scary at first, considering the speed! i’ve made several hemlocks within the last 2 years and except for one of them, i wear them constantly. the rejected one is a bold cherry flower print in red, which i only wore during pregnancy when i ran out of clothes that fit. otherwise, well.. it’s too bold for me, i can’t take that print on a daily basis.

solids are my jam! so, i’m afraid colorblocking is as crazy as it gets. both fabrics are lightweight (albeit not thin, see-through or tissue weight) rayon knits. they are similar in weight and feel and i had some of that grey fabric left over. i’m glad i paired them together, because the orangey red is the epitome of vivid and the gray mitigates that a bit. the red rayon has some elasthane to it so it is a bit more drapey, which makes it oh so comfy, too.


while i don’t feel the urge to share my other hemlocks on their own, this one deserves its own post. i’ve been wearing it a ton since i finished it in fall.

i’ve made some more alterations other than slashing the pattern for colorblocking. i lowered the neckline, added wide cuffs and folded out some width from the body and the sleeves. unfortunately i can’t remember how much, since i use the altered pattern since my first tee and did not trace it either since this is a one size pattern.


here’s a close-up of the color block seam lines. you’ll notice that i didn’t finish the hem, the knit fabric does’nt fray and folding it up for a hem would have added too much weight and bulk. like this, it’s nice and flowy (and an easy serger-only-sew).


i’ve been a fan of slim tops and wide leg pants once, but have been wearing wide tops and slimmer pants recently (though i don’t like too skinny or jeggings!) the hemlock might be one of the reasons i am a convert now. how many hemlocks have you made?  do you have a favorite silhouette? i still like a wide/flared leg but none of mine fit anymore :/


hemlock – a free pattern by grainline studio


upcycling: a patchwork blanket from scraps

i used to have a moving box under my cutting table to throw all the scraps and remnants in, pieces that would be too small to use for a garment. that’s where it all started with this blanket. once this box started overflowing with fabric remnants – anticipate: real quick! – i felt i had to do something about it. honestly, what keeps me interested in sewing is certainly not home deco, like pillows, blankets, curtains.. however, sometimes you do need those things and sometimes you happen to have the material right before you. in this case, both was true. and it was january, a time of year where it’s nice to have it warm, and that is what a blanket does: keeps you warm!

wrapped up

as you can see, i did not finish this blanket during wintertime. spring passed by and then, the prospect of summer was not incentive. at least, i had the pieces cut out and sewn together in february. just to give you an idea what i used, besides project scraps: a skirt from my boyfriends’ grandma, old jeans and pants, a plaid flannel shirt that never got worn, corduroy from an old skirt, a scarf from ukraine (interfaced for  a bit more stability), a corny tablecloth, a vintage pillow case (also used for this project), duvet covers, a polka-dot shirt from the thrift store, wool remnants from a skirt… and so the list goes on. i’m telling you about this in detail because i love that you can use basically everything. if it’s too lightweight – just interface it (you could even interface knits, so they won’t stretch)! upcycling is easy, you just have to get started. i’ve read a tip somewhere to sew together a bunch of scraps in every sewing session, it’s not as overwhelming as setting the goal to sew a big blanket in a handful of neverending sessions (which is what i did eventually) – on the contrary, it’s magically done at some point.

now for the details:

i cut 15x15cm (6×6″) squares and sewed them together in rows with a 1/4″ SA (using my presser foot as a guide). for warmth and structure, i used 100% cotton batting which i bought from ‘frau tulpe’ at 11,50€/m (volumenvlies 277). that’s the only thing i spend money on! it’s just right for a blanket and a bit sticky so sandwiching becomes much easier because the layers don’t shift around. you still have to pin or baste all layers together, though. i decided to pin, much faster! i’m not all about speed in general, but why would i want to crawl around on the floor for longer than necessary? i certainly thought this was a smart move… however, i cannot recommed that. the pins took vengeance on me as i quilted the layers in rows. next time i’ll be hand basting the layers together. for quilting i set the stitch length to 3,0.


for the backing i used plain muslin of which i had bought about 6 metres (6 1/2 yard) at the scandinavian ages ago to use for, guess what, making muslins. it was a bit softer than i’d remembered and when i looked through my stash i was happy to find it. i cut 2,5 m and prewashed it. then i remembered a mispurchase of mine: textile color which you can use in your washing machine, in a 60°C easy-care programm. it was a mispurchase because i do never wash my cotton garments at 60°C…  NO! to shrinked pants. anyway, the color (navy) was perfect for the backing cotton. now, although the color was said to suffice for up to 600g and my fabric actually weigh lighter (around 550g), the outcome is a soft blue that is very similar to light blue denim. or heaven. i’m not complaining, i like it. but navy is a bit far fetched.

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for the binding i used a quilting cotton from my stash, it’s an art gallery fabric and was an impulse-purchase last year. seriously, why would i buy quilting cotton, i never had any endeavour to sew a quilt before. my buying habits have changed a lot in a short time, meaning i’m much more considerate about what i buy and what i plan to make with it. as of late, i really cannot justify to buy fabric if there’s no specific project in the back of my mind. i like that development! by the way, have you heard of #slowfashionoctober? maybe you take part in it already. i’d like to pay tribute to the idea with this project. it’s clear that you do not always have to buy something new and shiny to create something new that – as in case of this blanket – will be used for ages. all the time and effort that went into making it make it even more precious to me. something i could never buy in a store. something i would never buy in a store just because of that!

back to topic: i cut seven strips along the widthwise grain, 6cm (approx. 2 3/8″) wide. i sewed them together diagonally, folded and pressed the loooong strip in half and sewed it on at a 1/4″. then, i folded it around the edges and sewed the binding on by hand. that took forever (4 -5 hours?).  i do enjoy handstitching because i can sit wherever i want (armchair, anyone?). if you want to save time this is not the way to go. if you find hand sewing relaxing or even rewarding, like me, go ahead!



there it is, a patchwork blanket from scraps, from old garments and duvets. i added some appliqué and embroidery stitches where it called for some spice. this barely cost me anything and it is now worth so much to me! upcycling rules.


an autumnal desmond roll top backpack

when Taylor from tailortaylor.com announced he was looking for testers, i immediately jumped at the chance without thinking about it too much really. i knew his blog and thus had seen first versions of the backpack that he planned to release. have you noticed there aren’t any back pack patterns out there or at least, there are no patterns with a simple yet sophisticated design? i’ve never sewn a back pack before and as far as anything ‘bag’ is concerned.. there is one i’ve made two years ago, which happens to be a free pattern by Novita from verypurpleperson.com (coincidently also one of the testers for the desmond pack, see her superb version here!). That being said, I’m a total bag making amateur, but i was confident i could make it work. and i could – the instructions were thorough and helpful!

luckily, the testing period fit in with my calendar, otherwise i would have felt intimidated to sew with a deadline. my result of pattern testing the desmond roll top is a seriously quirky pack due to my ‘choice’ of fabric. choice is relative, since i didn’t want to spent more than neccessary on supplies and this is what i had on hand. my boyfriend bought this fabric in tehran last winter. maybe because it’s orange? i guess the color was the critical factor. i seriously do not know what’s the content of this fabric… pretty sure it has nothing to do with natural fibres! at first i was afraid it would melt under the iron. fortunately, it didn’t. so, that and it’s weight meant it qualified for being used! and the orange is really quite nice, isn’t it? now that the leaves turn into all the colors and – first and foremost: orange! – i get really excited about its vibrant color.



for the lining i used slippery but rather sturdy lining fabric made from black polyester. i got a bag full of fabric from my boyfriend’s mom when she found out about my sewing. there was a lot of poly lining fabric in there. so i’m glad some of that is processed and doesn’t take up space anymore. (my approach here was pragmatic!) i have to admit though, black fabric is not a thought-out choice to use as a lining. there’s this black hole-syndrome when searching for something. it doesn’t bother me too much, it does match the webbing and the black thread in the weave of my main fabric, a good thing.


apart from the fabric, which cost me nothing, i spent some money on the other notions. these included the metal hardware you can see in the front (zip, hooks, sliders, D-rings) and the plastic thingies that help fastening and adjusting the length of the shoulder straps (are they called buckles?). somehow, i could not find O-rings, which the pattern suggests. there are some online shops but i didn’t want to order online. honestly, living in berlin you can basically get everything around some corner. the plastic surrogate you can see below works in the same manner and is also attached the same way. easy as pie. all these things are relatively cheap to buy, especially if you buy larger quantities (if you are a passionate bag maker you might do that, i didn’t!). here are some detail shots of the installed hardware:

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all in all, the backpack is comfortable to wear (as long as i don’t carry around bricks, that is!) in everyday life. the straps are great for support and have a nice width so they do not ‘cut’ into the shoulders, if you carry something heavier. what i really like about it is the size, it doesn’t look to huge and is not too small for a broad back either. there are four inside pockets and three on the outside, which gives plenty of room for small things that would be lost on the bottom otherwise. which is crucial with roll top bags i think, in standard backpacks you have a zip going all around to the bottom.

desmond-ribbon-detaillast but not least, i added something special to my bag with a beautiful vintage zig zag ribbon (from the 60s or 70s), which i got as a birthday present from a good friend of mine. she bought it at a flea market in mainz/germany. isn’t it just great when friends, who do not sew themselves, gift you sewing related things? i’m really happy to have found such a good place and project to finally use it!


more info about the pattern:

the pattern comes as a two-file-pdf with 28 pages (actual pattern), plus 12 pages (illustrated instructions)

the desmond roll top backpack by taylortailor.com

the sewalong  has just started out!

…and i also really liked the color combination in Allie’s testers’ version!

tricky bits: neat patch pocket corners

in the last post i mentioned i figured out a neat way to finish the upper corners of the front patch pockets. i was using the grainline archer pattern, but this will work for every pocket which seam allowances on the upper edge are folded under twice and then topstitched in place. using a different pattern? just go ahead and change your pocket piece so the raw edge on top can be folded under. my method  is not very different from the original construction method that you find on the grainline studio blog. it’s just a tiny difference in folding under the edges and you can’t see any fraying edges when you look inside your pocket.

here you can see how the seam allowances should fold under with your pocket, no matter if you’re using it with the archer or a different pattern. here, the visible crease is the future top edge of the pocket.pocket-1

start by pressing the seam allowances (SA) and fold edges on your pocket. that makes it easer to line everything up later on.  i pressed the sides of the pocket, at a 1/4″ (6mm) SA, that’s what the pattern calls for and i think it’s the perfect SA for patch pockets. to continue, unfold the 1/4″ SA on the top of the pocket and fold under along the first crease (notch).pocket-2

now, again, fold under the SA on the sides. you can give it a press if it doesn’t want to stay put.pocket-3

now fold along the last notch (see crease in the above picture). the fraying edges of the pocket are neatly tucked under now. give it a press and/or fixate it with a pin. personally, i like to use a bit of glue (where my finger is) to keep the corner in place.pocket-4

here’s another close up of that sandwich:pocket-5

pin or baste your pockets in place (in this case, spaced 1 inch from the button bands) and proceed with topstitching the top of the pocket, thereby attaching the pocket to your garment. i like to sew triangles to reinforce the corners.pocket-8

finally, take a look into your pocket: no visible fraying edges that might poke out! neat.pocket-7

if you have questions let me know in the comments! do you have a go-to technique when attaching patch pockets?