Requested Nerdy Husband Sewing

Black is such a hard colour to photograph which is a shame because I am so proud of this top.


I am afraid you’ll have to put up with Scarlett wearing this man-sized and man-shaped top. I refer to my hubby by many names: Nerdy Hubby, Geologist Hubby, Once-again-in-the-good-books Hubby…but he refuses to be Model Hubby – even with a promise of cutting off his head (in the photo frame I mean!) but I don’t blame him really, this top is pretty much skin tight. Comfortable, but very fitted.


Let’s rewind a bit:

Sometimes in Wellington it gets a little windy (hah!) and polypropylene is an essential staple in any Wellingtonian’s wardrobe. Ridiculous coloured stripey arms sticking out from under tee-shirts are very trendy. Or at least they used to be, I’m not exactly up with the current trends.

About 3 months ago Mountain Biking Hubby decided he wanted another polypropylene to wear under his riding clothes. His favourite one (both fit and colour) was black, its tag long lost after far too many washes.

He went out shopping for another rtw one and was so disgusted at both the price and quality of polypropylene and wool versions that he gave up.

Fast forward to another tag-along fabric shopping trip where merino and merino-blends were heavily discounted at an end-of-season sale. While my back was turned checking out the new spring-cottons nerdy husband was quietly digging through the merino bolts with gears quickly turning inside his head.

This is becoming a common occurrence isn’t it?

1.5m of black merino-nylon blend came home with us ($9.95/meter), as well as some marbled grey and dark grey merino for me. We chose the 80/20 merino-nylon blend in the hopes of slightly better durability and it also seemed to have better recovery than the straight merino.

I began by printing off the Pete T-shirt from BurdayStyle but after a quick comparison to the original black polypropylene it wasn’t going to work at all. Picky Hubby was quite adamant that the new merino top should be the same IN EVERY WAY as the original.

Free pattern alert!

Sigh. The Pete pattern was too short, too slim, too high-necked. The original also had a long raglan sleeve and the T-Shirt pattern did not. So I pushed it aside and decided to try this new thing everyone is talking about, a rub-off.


I’m not going to show you my method because the true pattern drafters amongst you would be truly appalled. I don’t have a big enough pinning surface so I prodded and stretched and sketched and fudged.

The important thing is that it worked! Better yet, Nerdy Hubby loves it, and has already requested another. It’s a good thing then, that it only took me a couple of hours to put together, almost 100% on the trusty 4-threads-of-amazingness-overlocker.

Some details

Fashionable Hubby requested coverstitch detail on the sleeve attachment:

“I don’t have a coverstitch machine honey”

“But you have so many machines, one of them must do this” * pointing at cover stitch

“Umm, I only have two machines (that go)…and no”

“…but that big white one with all the extra threads..?”



“I might be able to fake it”

“Hmm, ok, but only if it looks like this” * more pointing at cover stitch

“I’ll see what I can do”

I know I can do a kind of faux coverstitch on the overlocker, the Bernina lady showed me at my free lesson…that was almost 2 years ago!

But this was not the time for random experimentation, so the Elna got threaded up black, dial up stitch number 18 please!

I created my faux coverstitch by first overlocking the sleeve seam, pressing the overlocking to one side and stitching it down using the faux overlock stitch on my Elna. It’s a slow stitch but it looks pretty good I think.

Edit to add: I might not have explained that very well – the real 4-thread overlocked seam is on the inside, the faux overlock stitch (#18) is on the outside which you can see here.

Nerdy Hubby couldn’t tell the difference, “It looks so professional! You should do this on my rugby jersey too”

In all seriousness trusty #18 is a “super stretch” stitch and perfect for this application.

Here is another close up, you can see the wide cuff on the sleeve too:

I gave myself 3cm hem allowance at the bottom which I turned under twice and stitched down with the faux-overlock stitch too.

I don’t know what is going on with my hand in this pic, it looks so wrinkly!

The only hiccup was that I got a bit confused when I was attaching the neck band and put it on backwards. When Nerdy Hubby tried it on he asked why the join was at the front. Try as I might I couldn’t convince him that it was a design feature 😉 He’s a smart cookie that one. So I had to carefully unpick a 4-thread overlock stitch and then re-attach. Lucky merino doesn’t really fray so it went back on without a hitch.

So, great success! Except that now Nerdy Hubby is asking about his rugby jersey! 😉

Winning and sewing

I don’t tend to win too many things and it’s not from lack of trying. My Mum is a born winner but she never passed that gene on to me. Her specialty is radio stations. Now I don’t want to make her out to be some crazy lady who sits by the phone, but while potting around the house she’ll just hear an album she likes being given away, pick up the phone and she’s instantly “caller number 9”!

I remember when I was in Uni and feeling pretty poor the local radio station announced that they were giving away a double jazz CD and I asked her to try and win it for me. Sure enough at lunchtime she rang me to tell me she’d won a CD but accidentally won me the “Lady Sings the Blues”, apparently they were alternating between the CDs each hour. I told her that was cool, I liked the sound of that CD too so I’d go pick it up on the way home. Trust my Mum, she felt so bad for winning me the wrong CD she tried again the next hour and won me the Jazz as well! Love my Mum.

Anyway, on with todays post, I recently won a book off of BurdaStyle, it’s called The Right-Handed Embroiderers Companion by Yvette Stanton and it arrived yesterday in the post, how exciting!

The book arrived direct from Yvette with a cute little matching card a personal note inside from her, how nice?!

Basque Stitch

This book is pretty amazing, it’s basically a complete stitch dictionary with beautiful colour photos and examples along side very clear diagrams of each stitch type. This book is the right-handers version and there is a left-handed version as well but I noticed that inside my book there is also a diagram for each stitch showing the left-handers way to form the stitch (shown in the pink square above). I’ve always been very right-handed and not really studied any left-handers I have encountered (except by trying to hold my pencil the same way at primary school) so I find the comparison really interesting.

Shisha Stitch

In my winning post on the BurdaStyle blog I said, “I would like to one day make a beautiful quilt. But I don’t imagine this quilt to be something traditional, more like a work of art and I would use embroidery to embellish it” and I mean’t it. I hope to make it a long-term project, maybe over 1 or 2 years. I’ve been collecting inspirational images for a while now. One of my favorite “quilt artists” is Leah Evans.

Arpent Bend – Leah Evans

Amazing huh? I know! I also love these “map blankets” and right now I am leaning towards creating something personal to me that draws from these two pieces plus a few others I have collected.

Map Blanket by Haptic Lab

I own another book, The Art of Manipulating Fabric by Colette Wolff, which will also come in handy for this project, maybe I’ll review that book for you at a later date.

The only other sewing thing I have ever won was this vintage pattern from Kusine a little while ago, it’s such a cute suit!

Butterick 6257

Anyway, while we are on the topic of winning things, I also received my first blogger award. The wonderful Magdamagda awarded me “The Versatile Blogger”. I was really excited to receive it as, just like Magda, it is my first award too!


There are a few rules that go with accepting these awards, they are:

1. Thank the person who awarded you and link back to them in your post

2. Tell 7 random facts about yourself

3. Pass the award on to 15 new found bloggers

4. Contact each blogger you want to pass the award on to and let them know you’ve done so, and let the giver of your award know you accept it.

The seven random facts is really fun but I think awarding a further 15 blogs is getting a bit spammy so I’ve decided to chose 5 of my current favorites and pass it on to them 🙂

Here are my seven random facts:

1. I’d like to learn how to crochet (I want to make some super cute amigurumis) but I got stuck after making a simple chain! I felt so useless I gave up and sewed a pretty holder for my crochet hooks instead.

When all else fails – back to the sewing machine 🙂

2. I’ve suddenly become really bad at photographing my completed items, I used to be so good, I’d dress up and take a photo as soon as they were complete but now I have about 4 things I haven’t photographed yet!

3. My younger sister loves to sew too, she’s really good at transforming existing items and working without a pattern. When I eventually move home I’m looking forward to a few sewing sessions with her.

4. I turn 30 this year, I feel really old and I am dreading my birthday! :/

5. I have a terrible knowledge of fabrics! That’s why I’ve started my Fabric Book, it was part of my 2011 New Years Resolutions, I’m building it up one fabric at a time and pretty soon I’ll be a fabric nerd too!

6. I made a really embarrassing newbie mistake on my last project, it’s not enough to stop me from wearing it but I can’t believe I did it…I’ll share it with you when I post the photos…or maybe I’ll make you all guess for a prize 😉

7. I’m hopelessly and permanently addicted to the American versions of Project Runway & So You Think You Can Dance. I watch them while sewing but I know I shouldn’t and it’s possibly why I made the mistake above 😉

Magdamagda beat me to a few of my favourite blogs but I have a lot of favourites so I’d love to pass this award on to a few new onces I recently discovered, thank you for your constant inspiration ladies xx

Taking my own advice…eventually

We just had a long weekend here in WA (Long Weekend = 3 days of sewing, hehe), Monday was Labour Day. I got quite a bit done since it was so much cooler (high 20s instead of high 30s for a change) and we had a beautiful cool breeze in from the ocean, but more on that later in the week.

On Monday I went around to help my friend J with her sewing machine. J is fairly new to sewing and she has a neat little machine by Elna called the Sew Fun. All puns aside it is a really good beginner machine with a great range of stitches and adjustability but not too much to confuse and scare away newbies.

Elna Sew Fun

In her enthusiasm to change her first broken needle, J accidentally disassembled most of the upper needle clamp. A small piece of metal fell out of one of the pieces she removed and she wasn’t able to work out where it went back. Since I have the same brand of machine and I am also partly responsible for getting her hooked on sewing I was more than happy to try my hand at fixing it. I shudder to think what they’d charge at a repair shop.

We got it all sorted pretty quickly although I had no idea that piece existed until I had my head almost inside my machine to spot where it went. After it was all screwed back together I showed J how to really change the needle then to pick up her confidence I showed her what bits she should pull apart for cleaning and oiling. Then we chatted about different types of sewing feet and stitches and what they are used for. I suggested to J that she thread up her machine, grab a plain piece of scrap fabric and stitch a line of each stitch type. I’ve made this suggestion a few times to different friends, it helps you get your head around what each stitch is for and also what they really look like since the picture on the machine isn’t always very accurate.

Can you keep a secret? I’ve never even done that myself…and I’ve had my Elna for…(counting in head)…7 years…(I cheated, I went and pulled out the receipt) and I’ve never stitched every stitch to see what they look like. Ok, so I probably did way back in 2003 when I finally brought it home but it’s completely forgotten since I was probably busy working out tensions and stitch widths and threading all at the same time.

I’d hate to be called a hypocrite so when I got home I pulled out a pretty blue thread, some calico and went to work. Here’s what I ended up with, it’s neat huh?

Elna 2130 Stitch Selection

It’s kind of pretty in a nerdy, organised sort of way. Can you see my neat little pink chalk lines? Taking it too far much?

My overlocker is next for this treatment but it will take a little longer for me to re-thread it 15+ times. When I first got it home I threaded up each path with a different coloured thread to get my head around how the stitches were formed since I had no idea. Then when I went for my free overlocker lesson the lady at the shop told me to go through the treading chart in my book and make a test swatch of each stitch formation. I intended to do just that as soon as I got home but I got caught up in learning how to use it for my immediate sewing requirements. I know for a fact that I’m not yet using it to it’s fullest potential. I have two other feet that I haven’t even tried yet! So stay tuned for more exciting thread on calico action soon… 🙂