Playtime Popover Vest by Red Thread Patterns


Yes, the first project from my unfinished drawer is completed.  Done.

So…for the details.

Pattern:  Playtime Popover by Red Thread Patterns, which I purchased as a pdf from their Etsy store.


Fabric: a medium-weight black New Zealand merino knit with a light-weight camouflage NZ merino knit lining for the hood.

Size: I made a 3-4 based on my two year old daughters’ measurements.

Modifications: I omitted the front pocket and also utilized some different stitches on the armhole and bottom hem (see previous posts for reasons why!).

Time taken: at a guess,  maybe 2-4 ‘child’ hours.  That is cutting and sewing with a small person present for most of the process.  Definitely would be faster for subsequent vests and also, obviously without the ‘little helper’ putting pins down the oil holes in my sewing machine.

Next time:  I would consider increasing the size of the armholes, found them to be just a little on the small side (+ particularly given that I made a size bigger than the suggested age).  I’d also love to lengthen the vest and create a slight A-line to turn it into a tunic.

Overall Recommendation & Tips:

A super practical garment for littlies.  Very simple sewing lines and I felt the pattern was well written.  I guess it was a success as my daughter didn’t mind putting it on (& keeping it on…yes I’ve deciding she is going to have it as opposed to the intended recipient as I was not 100% happy with the workmanship on this one) and my husband asked if I could make him one!  I did have to watch for the ‘bubbling’ effect of the hood seam (I guess I obviously stretched it somehow while sewing this – this is also the reason I omitted the front pocket as merino does shift quite a lot while sewing).  I would recommend this pattern as it is very easy to sew however, make sure you measure your child (or the intended recipient) first so that you are not disappointed.  Further to this, I have made this up with a basic sweatshirting fabric (same size) and found the neckline to be snug when popping-over my daughter’s head, so perhaps make allowances for this depending on the stretch of the fabric you are using.


Blackboard unfinished projects check one


Culprit….elnagraph pinion

When your machine will only straight stitch and refuse to zig-zag or do any other stitch … check the gears.

elnagraph pinion

So here it is, the broken elnagraph pinion removed from my machine and replaced.  My Elna SU is now zig-zagging up a storm (and every other stitch on the elna disc).

My trusted local machine technician immediately identified the fault on inspection and a new part was the only solution for this problem, luckily he had it in stock and could do it the same day (yay!).  Asked if it was something I may have caused and the reply was “another wear-and-tear issue that comes with age”… so thanks elnagraph pinion for lasting 50-odd years, lets hope your replacement can do the same.  An expensive exercise but cheaper than having to buy a whole new machine (something I would have loved to do as I have my eye on the Bernina 550 but still saving for that dream).  Glad this machine can keep chugging along…time for some sewing.

Update – Unfinished Drawer 1.0

Hello there and welcome to my newest ‘followers’ I am thrilled to have you on board, thank you for stopping by.


So a short update on the drawer of  “unfinished projects“.

All progress has come to a halt as my machine decides that it would rather only do straight stitching!  (not ideal when working with knits).  I’ve googled what I think might be the problem but have come to the conclusion that I’d best let a professional do the honours.  This is, afterall, my late grandmother’s 1970’s sewing machine (the only one I own) and I would love for it to still be chugging along when my daughter wants to learn how to sew.  Which although at only two, she is showing some promise…gathering scrap pieces of fabric and climbing up on the stool to place the fabric under the foot, announcing that she is “sewing”.

DIY Saddle-Stitch bookbinding Tutorial for the Seamstress Workbook

Saddle stitch tutorial cover

Welcome to my tutorial on how to bind your Seamstress Workbook using the saddle-stitch (non-staple) method.  If you’ve just joined me, you too can purchase your own pdf copy of the Seamstress Workbook here.

There are many different versions of  saddle-stitch binding tutorials around and some great video’s on youtube that illustrate the process as well.  However, this is a very basic tutorial for beginners.  It is a lot less difficult than you might think and, as a home sewist, you will have all the equipment you need.

So, hunt around for:

Tutorial equipment saddle stitch

For the thread, I use waxed Irish linen bookbinding thread (available on Etsy) but you can also use embroidery floss.  The waxed thread does provide added strength and locks well when tying off.

Step 1.

Collate all of the pages of your workbook.  You should have one cover (printed on both sides), one end page (printed on both sides) and 10 worksheet pages also printed, the same, on both sides (or however many you decided).  Having folded each of these pages into A5 size, nest the workpages inside the end page inside the cover and align in the fold.  Should look something like this, when opened out flat again and looking from the middle of the book.

Workbook layout

Step 2.

Turn this bundle of pages over so that the centre of the book is facing down on the table, booklet is spread out A4 size.  And secure all the pages together with the clips so that the fold line of all pages (including cover) are directly sitting above one another.


Step 3.  Using pencil and ruler mark three points along the spine of the book; 1 inch from top, 1 inch from bottom and half way between these two points.  Using your pin/awl/sharp pointed object.  Make holes through these three points ensuring that you make holes through all paper layers and that you are piercing the spine at an angle that is perpendicular to the workbook (ignore the angle I’m going in at in my photo!), that is you want to go straight down through all the papers.  Ensure the holes are the same size as your needle/thread thickness and no larger.

Spine marks    DSCF6876         DSCF6878

Step 4.  Once you have made the holes in the spine.  Cut a length of thread and thread your needle, for this workbook around 22 inches is sufficient.  (A) Start by working from the inside of the booklet, sewing through the centre hole in the spine (B).  (C) Leave a tail about 4-6 inches long (on the inside of the booklet), bringing the needle through to the outside and then sew back through the top hole (D) coming back to the inside fold.

A DSCF6884

 B  DSCF6885

C   DSCF6886

D DSCF6887

Pull the thread through so that its sits flat against the spine of the book (E).  From the inside, your next stitch is going through the hole marked 1″ from the bottom of the book (F), back through to the outside of the book again.  And finally, back through the centre hole (G) towards the inside of the booklet (H).  You should end up with two stitches on the outside spine and one long stitch on the inside of the book.

E DSCF6889

F  DSCF6890-002

G DSCF6892-001

H DSCF6893

Step 5.  Remove your needle from the thread and tie a knot with the two tails of your thread, ensuring that the one long centre stitch is between your two tail pieces when tying (I).  You may like to tie a second knot.  When tying the knot, pull the thread taught so that both stitches sit flat against the spine of the book (J).  Tuck the tails (one up, one down) under the long centre stitch to keep them out of the way (K) in this photo I am using the needle to pull the thread under the centre stitch.  Cut the tails about 1/2 ” – 1 ” from the centre knot (not too short) (L).

I DSCF6895

J DSCF6902

K DSCF6897

L DSCF6899

Well done! You have finished binding your Seamstress Workbook.  Now…. Happy Sewing.

A place to record all your sewing projects and measurements.

Any problems/questions/comments please do let me know and I will try to help.

First Challenge – the ‘unfinished drawer’

So what better way to kick things off, and address my ‘fabric problem’, than a small challenge.  To tackle the most neglected drawer in my sewing room, the drawer of  ‘Unfinished Projects’.

These projects are in various stages of production; half cut-out, cut-out with some piecing, half sewn or just a pattern & some fabric grouped together…like an arranged marriage with a long engagement.

This is going to be one mighty challenge as some of these projects have been waiting a long time in that drawer  and I have been deliberately avoiding finishing them due to the excitement of making other things with fancy fabric.  So, what is in this drawer you ask? in no particular order…

Blackboard unfinished projects

and on closer inspection..


I have decided to begin with project number 8, a hooded vest for a friends’ son who just turned 2.  As this is a birthday present, I have some urgency to complete this project. I will document my progress, one project at a time here, so I am accountable to you.  No more buying gorgeous fabric until these ones are all ticked off, and even then I need to start ‘de-stashing through production’.

It’s going to be hard, have you got an ‘unfinished drawer’ too? why not join me on this one.

Some people collect cars, I collect fabric

How easy is it to buy beautiful fabric for a special project you may have in mind, or lets be honest, how common is it to simply buy gorgeous fabric for no reason at all other than to just have it!

Oh to glare at such pretty fabric in your ever growing stash!   I partly blame fabric designers for this – they are just too good at what they do.   But my addiction HAS to stop.  and I’ve been successful for… um, 4 days now.  I have this sizeable bookcase full of stunning, inviting and pretty fabric’s  all neatly folded up with nothing to do but sit and wait for their turn to be transformed.  It’s a bit embarrassing to have such a collection.  I cringe to think how much money is sitting there.  Most of them were purchased with a purpose in mind…it just hasn’t eventuated.

The stash

The stash