Me Made May and the T-Shirt Factory

It’s Me Made May season again, and one of my favorite times of year!  This is my third year participating. This time I pledged to wear a me-made item every day during the month of May, with an exception for days when I’m traveling.  (Although, if it turns out to be practical, I will wear me mades on travel days too.)  If you want to follow my Me-Made-May progress, I’ve been posting daily outfit shots on Instagram (I’m MarrieB over there) and in the Flickr pool.

MMM Day One.

Outfit post from May 1.

The most difficult part of my challenge this year will be having enough casual clothes for the weekends.  But I’ve been working on that.  Lately I’ve been dipping my toes in the water with knits, and have sewn a few t-shirts.  Here’s the first tee I made:


The pattern is the Maria Denmark Kimono Tee, which is a great free pattern.  I picked up the fabric at a local shop, it was labeled “slinky knit.”  I’m not really sure what that means, I think it’s a cotton/poly blend.  But I like the drape it gives the kimono style top.

MMM Day 3

Kimono Tee – May 3rd

Next up, I finally made a Renfrew.

A while back, Funnygrrl from Falling Through Your Clothes hosted an awesome giveaway for a Sewaholic pattern of your choice.  I was the lucky winner, and chose the Renfrew. (Thank you again, Funnygrrl!!!!)  I know 95% of the sewing community has already made up this pattern, but better late, than never, right?  This went together really easily for me.  I used some orange cotton jersey as a wearable muslin, and am happy with the result.


Renfrew  – May 2nd

For my last tee, I copied one of my favorite RTW tops for the pattern.
I’m really happy with this one!  It’s exactly like the original, except with a scoop neck instead of a v-neck.  I plan to make lots more of these.  It looks a lot like the Renfrew, but without the bands.

MMM Day 4

RTW Copy Tee – May 4

I think I’ve been bit by the knits bug.  In fact, I’m off to cut out 4 more shirts right now. . . .


I left my fabric out this morning to rest while I was at work. I’ve been looking forward to coming home to this all day!


Tutorial: Add a Sleeve Lining to the Robson Trench Coat

When I made my sister’s Robson Trench Coat, I decided to line the sleeves.  I did this so the coat would slide on and off a little easier.  It worked really well, and I recommend it for this pattern.
MJB Trench Coat

A couple notes on this tutorial.  First, this may not technically be the “right” way to line a sleeve. It’s simply what made sense to me, and it worked. Second, I apologize for the quality of the pictures. I was snapping these with my phone as I sewing late into the night. Finally, I’m going to refer to the sleeve lining as simply “lining” and the fashion fabric sleeve as “sleeve.”


    • Approximately 3/4 – 1 yard of lining fabric.  I used Bemberg  rayon, which is my favorite lining material.  But anything slippery should work.
    • You may also want to use wider bias tape to finish the armhole seam.  I picked up a package of the “Wide Single Fold” stuff.


1. Cut the lining fabric, using the pattern pieces for the sleeve.  BUT – this is important – cut the lining 1″ shorter than the main fabric.

2. Sew the sleeve, as directed by steps 21 and 22 in the pattern, EXCEPT don’t finish the seams or the sleeve hem with bias tape. DO do the topstitching and attach the sleeve tab.  STOP before hemming the cuff.

3. Sew the lining, and finish the seams. (I just pinked mine.)  Do not apply any bias tape, and topstitching is not needed.

4. Insert the sleeve into the lining, with right sides touching.Untitled

5. Line up the bottom edges of the lining and the sleeve, matching the seam lines, and pin.
sleeve lining

6. Sew the lining to the sleeve, using a 5/8″ seam allowance.

7. Pull the lining down over the sleeve, and then shove the lining back up inside in the sleeve. The wrong sides of the fabrics should now be touching, and the lining should be inside the sleeve.
sleeve lining
sleeve lining
sleeve lining

8. Turn the whole sleeve and lining unit inside out. Turn up the cuff your desired amount and press, making sure to smooth the lining back. (You should be pressing the seam allowance of the seam you just sewed up towards the sleeve cap.) Pin.

9. Sew the cuff. Do not catch the lining in this seam.


10. Set in the sleeve, ignoring the lining for now. I pushed my my lining down into my sleeve to keep it out of the way.

sleeve lining

Tip – baste your sleeves first, it makes it easier to set them in.

11. Pull the lining up, and line up the edge of the lining with the edge of the sleeve. (You will have to ease in the lining, just like the sleeve, to get everything to fit.)sleeve lining

12. Baste (or pin) the lining to the seam allowance of the sleeve, matching seam lines and notches. I highly recommend basting!
sleeve lining

13. Finish the armhole with bias tape. Make sure the bias tape fully encases the edge of the lining and the sleeve seam allowance.

NOTE: I started out with the bias tape I had used elsewhere on the coat.  But it was too narrow to easily fold over the bulky seam allowance. (This is a bulky seam because the front and back flaps are also sewn into the armhole.) I switched to the ‘Wide Single Fold’ bias instead, and it worked better for me.

Once the bias tape is sewn in, remove the basting if it shows, and now the lining is fully attached!

14. If you turn the sleeve inside out and smooth the lining down the sleeve, there will be a little excess lining that can be pressed into into jump hem.
MJB Trench Coat
And that’s it!   🙂

Completed: The Gift Coat (aka Robson Trench Coat)

I’ll freely admit that I’m a selfish sewer.  But on occasion, I’ll make something for someone, like my latest make – this Robson trench coat.  I made this for my sister’s birthday after she saw my trench and liked it.

MJB Trench Coat

Since she had tried my coat on, I knew this was going to fit her without needing any major alterations.  I cut a size 4, but shaved about 1/4 inch off all the princess seams, since she is a little smaller than me. I also narrowed the flair at the bottom. Because she is petite, I thought a slimmer silhouette would be more flattering.

MJB Trench Coat

I made two other changes worth noting.  First, I took a wedge out of the front flaps to make them narrower.  On my coat, the flaps won’t lie flat and it drives me nuts.  So I pinched out the excess on my coat and transferred it to the pattern piece.  This is what the alteration looks like.  I was careful not to change the top or the sides of the flap.  I wanted to be sure that it would still match at the shoulder, armhole, and neck line.


It worked and the flaps now lie perfectly!

MJB Trench Coat

Second, I lined the sleeves.  This makes it easier to take the coat on and off.  I took some pics of my process, so expect a tutorial on this soon.

MJB Trench Coat
MJB Trench Coat

The fabric is a cotton twill that I purchased from organic cotton plus.  I’m impressed with the quality and would order from them again.  I used Bemberg rayon for the sleeve lining and black packaged bias tape to finish the seams.

MJB Trench Coat
MJB Trench Coat
MJB Trench Coat

Also picked up an interesting black and white printed cotton for the back facing, and used it under the flaps as well.
MJB Trench Coat
MJB Trench Coat
MJB Trench Coat

Although this pattern has a lot of pieces, it’s not too difficult.  I love all details.

MJB Trench Coat
MJB Trench Coat
MJB Trench Coat

I was so pleased with how this coat turned out, I really wanted to keep it for myself!
MJB Trench Coat

Good thing for my sis, I had already embroidered her initials on the back facing before I realized I wanted to keep it.  🙂  So I had to send it to her!  Happy Birthday, MJB!  🙂
MJB Trench Coat


Unfinished Business: Thurlow Trousers

Months ago I started on the daunting path of sewing a pair of trousers.  Somewhere along the way I lost steam and abandoned the project.  I stuffed my half-sewn pants in the remnant bin, and that is where they lived for months.  Every time I’d pull my bin out, there they were, mocking me.

So finally, last month I’d had enough and pulled them back out onto the sewing table.   And here they are — my finished Thurlows.


I had a hard time fitting this pattern, and I’m not totally satisfied with how they turned out.  But I learned a lot, and feel like at least I know how to sew pants now.
I made my alterations so long ago that I don’t remember them.  Looking back I think I started out with too big of a size (I literally took inches out of these).  There is still a lot of wrinkling in the back.  Oh well, at least they are comfortable.

Another disappointment is that even though I dutifully practiced the welt pocket, and the practice one turned out good, the actual welts didn’t.  They are too wide and spread apart.



Open Mouth Welts – Not Hot!

I am happy with how the fly turned out though.  Fly zippers were really intimidating to me, and that was the point where I quit before.  But not anymore!

I also like my contrast fabric – keeps the insides interesting.


Although I’m not in love with these, I’m relieved they are finished!  And with my newly acquired fly-zip sewing skills, I’m feeling ready to take on my next challenge and copy a pair of my RTW shorts.  Wish me luck!

Completed: Sewaholic Robson Coat

I made a coat!  I can’t believe it, I made a coat!!  Here’s my version of the new Robson Coat pattern from Sewaholic Patterns.
robson 6

Can you tell I’m excited about this project?!  And guess what . . . it wasn’t all that hard!  Tasia has drafted a fantastic pattern.  It has a lot of pieces, and I won’t lie, making this was time consuming.  But honestly, it was pretty easy.  Especially considering – it’s a coat!

The fabric I used is a 100% cotton twill.  So it will wrinkle, but I decided I can live with that.
robson 7

It isn’t lined, so you use bias tape to finish all the seams.
robson 4

And there are A LOT of seams, so you need a ton of bias tape!  I made my own with a gray, black and white animal print fabric.  It took a whole night of work to make enough, but the extra effort was worth it.  I just love how the animal print contrasts with the green fabric.  Here’s a closer look:

Tip:  I didn’t sew the bias tape the way the pattern instructions suggest.  (Which is to fold it over the seam allowance and sew)  Instead, I did what Lauren (Lladybird) did.  (check out her post – she’s got pics of this, and a fanstastic coat to boot!)  I sewed one side of the bias tape, then turned it over the seam allowance and top stitched it down.  It’s an extra step, but it’s actually a lot easier than trying to wrangle and sew the bias tape around a bulky seam allowance in one pass.

This coat is loaded with great details.  It’s got front storm flaps, with a button hidden underneath for when you want to close the coat all the way to the neck.

A back storm flap, with a button.  I sewed the animal print fabric on the underside of my flap, just for fun!


Sleeve Tabs:

Pocket welts:

Belt loops and tie belt:

Here’s how the insides look.  Front:



I cut the back neck facing from my animal print fabric, for a bit of contrast.

I also slip-stitched the back facing down, so that it wouldn’t flip up or flop around when I take the coat off.  (Bonus, the back storm flap hides the stitches!)

The sleeves were a little tricky for me, mostly due to inexperience.  (I think I’ve only done set in sleeves once, or twice.)  I started out by pinning the sleeves in and sewing, but kept getting puckers.  So I switched to basting them in my hand, and that worked a lot better for me.  They are sitting pretty smoothly now.

And I’m jazzed about how well the top stitching on the sleeve lines up with the stitching on the back flap.

Speaking of top stitching, this coat is loaded with it.  I was intimidated by this a first, because I’d only done it a couple times before.  Turns out, it wasn’t so hard.  Another TIP:  don’t look at the needle as you top stitch, and the stitches will stay straighter.  I have no idea why, but as soon as I’d look at the needle, things went off course!  Along those lines, buy extra thread if you make this.  You will need it.  (I used 2.5 of the small spools of Gutermann thread.  Or about 250 meters/275 yards.)

Oh the other thing about this coat . . . I didn’t make a muslin, and I think it fits pretty darn well.
robson 1

The only alteration I made was to shorten it by about 4 inches.  I based my length off of another trench style coat I own.

When I make this again (and I totally want to, even if owning multiple trench coats is ridiculous) I will probably make the front flaps a smidge narrower.  They have a tendency to want to poof out.  I’d also take just a bit of flair out of the sides, along the princess seams.

Other changes I’d make are (1) cut the interfacing so that it doesn’t extend into the seam allowances around the collar.  I think this would help reduce bulk.  It’s another tip I’ve learned from my tailoring class, and (2) maybe underline the sleeves with lining fabric, to help the coat glide on and off easier.

All said and done, I am really proud of myself for making this coat.  A year ago I would have never imagined I could made outerwear!  I like how it fits.  I love the fabric and bias tape.  And it fills a gap in my wardrobe, I needed a lightweight coat for cool spring mornings/evenings.  Yes, I love my Robson Coat!
robson 5

Go make one . . . you won’t regret it!