Babylock Ovation, Self Drafted Patterns, Tops
Comments 40

Me and O – The Start of Something Marvellous!

Here’s a quickie (with quite a few piccies) about how me and my new assistant O are getting on.

Anyone who knows me in ‘real life’ will know I’ve a bit of a thing for instruction manuals.  It drives me bonkers to have something and not know how it works properly, and what all the different functions do.  (hence the hubby still can drive me crazy as his mum lost the manual I was supposed to get when we got married!)

So when O arrived I was super excited, had downloaded and read the manual more times than I could remember and felt fairly confident that I could jump in feet first and make something.

But I didn’t!


Instead I cut some strips of fabric and started from the beginning of the instruction book and began working through the different stitches.

As I practiced each stitch I wrote on the fabric what the stitch was, but soon thought this could get a bit disorganised so stuck them onto paper using a regular glue stick.


I was able to write notes on the paper if needed, the type of stitch and which page to find it on in the manual.

I tried different fabrics for different stitches.  It got me used to how to thread up the machine in no time.

Although I hadn’t worked through everything in the book I really wanted to get going and make something.  So on day 2 of owning O I made a Renfrew.  Something I’d made lots of in the past, so no fitting issues and no tracing patterns off.

I made it all in an afternoon. It took a bit longer than it would have using my old machine, but I was soooo pleased with my new make.   I nearly didn’t bother using my sewing machine at all, but decided to stitch in the neck band with a narrow zig zag then finish it off with the cover stitch.

Ta Dah………..!!


Next up was to ‘fix’ Sue’s dress  (if you follow my Sunday Sevens you’ll know what I’m talking about).  It had huge bat wing sleeves that needed to go as they were ridiculously unflattering. So the batwings were chopped off (which was a lot easier than getting ring of bingo wings!) and all that was needed was a simple rolled hem.   As I’d practice rolled hems I didn’t think it would be much of a job for O.

How wrong was I??!


Luckily I had the wings which had been removed which I could practice on.


And practice I did!


I tried different rolled hems but found the same problem – all the stitches were coming away from the fabric.


Eventually i had a brain wave and chose a fine needle.  Problem solved!

I was really careful when I was deciding how much to cut off as I didn’t want to have to remove any of the sequins or sew through them.


After playing around with O for a couple more weeks I was able to change between coverstitch and overlock in 5 minutes or less.

So I decided to whip up another simple jersey top.  Hila had measured me up from top to bottom and I had a big sheet of my measurements so I could start to learn to make my own blocks.

Linda had recommended I buy Winifred Alrich’s book – Metric Pattern Cutting for Women, after seeing all the work I put in to the numerous muslins i had to make to get a good fit.  She assured me it would be much easier if I made my own patterns.  I downloaded the electronic version straight away to my kindle!

So the first one I tried from the book was an easy fitting jersey tee.  Making the block seemed to take less time than tracing off pattern pieces.  It was just like playing dot to dot on a bit sheet of blank paper.  I bought a cheap A1 flip pad from Staples, and keep it under the sofa in the lounge so it doesn’t get bent or creased.

I made a turtle neck top – I knew exactly what the neck circumference of my top was, subtracted 15% and added seam allowances – 3/8 ” – and it worked like magic!

I admit to sewing in the neck and the arms first with a basting stitch on my sewing machine just to check the fit, and also it was a bit tricky sewing the neck hole in the round and getting the stretching just right.


The top took me longer than I thought it would to sew up.  I struggled a bit with the fabric – it just didn’t feed smoothly through the machine at the beginning of the seams when overlocking.  It was quite a fine stretchy knit.  I even tried stitching a piece of elastic to use to help start it off.


I’ve put a piece of the fabric in my bag and I’m going to take it to the Babylock stand tomorrow when I go to the Knitting and Stitching show in Harrogate and hopefully I’ll find out where I’m going wrong.

I’d heard about hemming cuffs on the flat before stitching the side seams.  As I would have had to sew the sleeve hem, then change to overlock to sew the side seam, then back to coverlock to sew the bottom hem I decided to have a go at sewing the bottom hem on the flat and then join the side seams.  It worked a treat, and was much easier to press the front and back separately than any other T shirt hemming I’d done before.  After i stitched the side seams the overlocked seam allowance is just stitched down and secured with a few stitches on a sewing machine.


I’m really chuffed with my first attempt at fashion design pattern drafting, and can’t wait to make some more of these for winter.  I think I’m going to buy Tilly’s new pinafore pattern tomorrow at the show as these would look fab underneath it.  And I’ve got some grey denim which would be perfect!


Just to mention, the sleeves are 3/4 length on purpose. I’d have preferred full length but didn’t have enough fabric!


The fit is more relaxed than I thought it would be, but I think it’s due to the stretchiness of the fabric.


And look at it under my new jacket!!


As well as taking the print off my manual with all the heavy reading, I’ve found loads of help online too.

Babylock have their own chanel on You Tube HERE which I’ve referred to loads, and there’s also Sewing with Nancy which I’ve found really helpful.

Something else which I’ve found invaluable is a group on Facebook group called Coverstitch/Coverlock.  Its for owners of all Coverstitch brands and was recommended to me by Peggy from Bespokeability.  There’s questions being asked and answered all the time.  It’s been really informative as i’ve read the solutions to problems before I’ve encountered them!   It’s a closed group, and you need to request to join.

Next up is to make some active wear.  I really need some new sports bras but I think thats a bit adventurous at the minute.  I’ve already made the block for close fitting jersey wear with negative ease, so hopefully i’ll be able to make some gym tops fairly soon.

As much as I could waffle on, I won’t.  I need to get my frock and whatafvyer ready for the Big Vintage Sewalong’s afternoon tea party tomorrow!

Eeeek!  I’m just rather slightly giddy!!  Are you going?  Or are you going to the show?

It’s my first time going to anything like this and i’m not sure what to expect, except it’s likely I’ll be coming home with a few big bags all being well and an empty purse!


  1. You’re so good reading the manual first, still a shade of green when I see ‘O’ 🙂 I’m off to the show on Friday, got a shopping list for the first time, which probably means I won’t find anything!! Enjoy!

    • I will! You too! I’ve hit a little list, and I’m hoping to buy my stitching Santa pressie too. I first read the manual about 18 months ago and looked at regularly in a dreamy state! 😃

  2. Pam (sweetpeagreen) says

    Tilly has 25% off all sewing patterns on the website with BLACKFRIDAY code at checkout.

    I’m going tomorrow too, and have already got my initial route of fabric stalls sorted – Rosenberg and Fabrics Galore top of the list. Might see you there (I’ll have my Sew North badge on me thinks 😊

    • That’s a good idea, I’ll try and remember mine too! Thanks for the heads up. I’ll try and haggle the discount tomorrow 😃

  3. Wow you’ve been busy with that coverstitch machine, it really gives a professional finish. I’m loving the new Cleo dress by Tilly too, I don’t know if you know but she has a 25% off black Friday deal on all her patterns, print & PDF if you enter BLACKFRIDAY at the checkout. Enjoy the show tomorrow.

    • Thanks Sam, I’d seen it but you’ve still to pay postage. After watching the apprentice I’m going to haggle with everything tomorrow!! Well I’m hoping I will, in real life I might not be so brave 😂

  4. I’ll be interested in what they tell you at the Babylock stand about your issues with starting off the seam as I have had the same thing happen although I don’t think my fabric was as fine a knit as yours. Have a great time!

    • Thanks, I’m sure I will! I tried using a water soluble stabiliser but that didn’t work. It’s like the foots just too heavy, I even tried reducing the foot pressure. I’m sure there’ll be a knack to it and will let you know if I find out 😃

    • I had a word Lynn and for my machine she said it was the foot that came with it that has an extra hole for adding elastic which causes the problem and said I need to buy a clear foot.
      I asked hers about your and she suggested lowering the pressed footer then lifting up the front of the pressed foot to help feed the fabric through at the start. Hope that makes sense!

  5. Carol says

    Have a look at She used to teach Babylock courses and has books and courses for sale which are downloadable. I found them useful.

  6. Thanks for the updates of how you are going on. It’s really amazing what it’s capable of. Have a great day at the show K xXx

  7. I’m going tomorrow too! And it’s my first time! I’ve spent today sewing a Tilly & The Buttons Cleo Dungaree dress, finished with ten minutes to go before the golf club quiz started, but I finished in the nick of time and I love it! I’ll look out for you, hope you have a great day xx

    • It was soooo busy, I looked out for you too. I didn’t see anyone I knew despite knowing there would be some familiar faces there 😀

  8. Well done you! Fabulous example of really thorough preparation.
    Love both your new tops. Will be interesting to see if your pattern purchasing changes as you gain more insight in pattern drafting. 😉 xx
    Have great times tomorrow!!!

    • Thanks Del, I think I’ll probably not buy as many indie patterns as they tend to be fairly straight forward and hopefully styles I’ll be able to create myself once I get going. I think I’ll still like the challenge of a more complicated big 4 pattern like the jacket I’ve just made. I can’t imagine designing something like that. 😳 xx

  9. How fantastic that you’ve made a sample stitch book. I could do with one myself. I think the tee looks great with your new jacket. I’ll read about your adventures with the pattern block and perhaps follow in your footsteps.

    • Hi Tammy, the book is fab – have you got it? I’m really looking forward top working my way through it, but starting with some of the easier blocks first to build some confidence. I got the idea for the sample book from Babylock as in the USA there’s an actual book you can buy with all the stitches in, but I thought it would be better to do my own and make notes as I go. I think I’m going to add fabric samples with notes too as I use different fabrics.

    • Things have slowed down a little, but I’m looking forward to getting stuck in after Christmas when I’ve a bit more time. 🙂

  10. Suzanne Mawson says

    Impressed at how thoroughly you read instructions. I’m one hand guiding fabric through machine whilst reading instructions as I do, typical lazy Libra. Love that silver flower fabric, I bought the same yesterday from Manjit at lucky fashion! Great taste!

  11. I’m so impressed with all your preparation! I just don’t think I’ve got the patience any more to do something like that! Hope you enjoy the show, get an answer to your problem and don’t spend ALL your money!

    • I did get an answer, and it turns out I need a different foot, which is a bit annoying after spending all that money! 😦 Never mind though, it’s all a bit of a learning curve 🙂

  12. I’m far too impatient to get started to read the manual – I only read it when I get stuck or am doing something new for the first time. Well, usually…..hubby bought us his ‘n’hers Mercs today and I need to read the manual to find out what all the knobs do! Hope you enjoyed your meet up (today?).

    • Ooo lucky you! When I got a new Audi years ago I took the manual home the week before I picked it up! I think I may have a problem :-0 The show was fab, I’m just sorting out my pics so I can write a post about it. 🙂 Happy Motoring!

  13. A woman after my own heart! I read instruction books too – but I didn’t get one with hubby either! It would now be rare vintage!
    I’m gong to Harrogate on Friday. Unfortunately no plans to buy an ‘O’ equivalent.

    • You’ll have a fab day! I didn’t spend too much, no fabric just a couple of bits n bobs and my Stitching Santa pressie. I’m just sorting my photos out so I can write a post about it. Take a picnic or have your hand stamped so you can go out for lunch. There’s somewhere you can eat it if you do take your own. Have fun!! 🙂

  14. Look at all that sampling! I started out doing that when I got my overlocker, but I was bored by page 4 and gave up… I’d never make it through all the stitches on a coverstitch machine.

    • The cover stitch bit isn’t as complicated as the overlocker as it’s either 1, 2 or 3 rows of stitching, whereas the overlocker does all the fancy stuff. I did give up before I got to the end, but will go back to it, and am going to stick samples in of what I make with notes too. Hopefully it’ll come in useful 🙂

  15. It’s so worth recording those samples – after nearly 2 years of overlocking and 1 year of coverstitched I’ve started doing the same. Seriously tempted now at drafting my own stuff too, defo on the pressie list. And do make some sports bras, I love mine and won’t wear RTW any more.

    • Have you got the book? I think it’s just the newer edition that has all the different stretch blocks and the older book I have doesn’t have as many. I s’pose making a sports bra can’t be so hard if I keep it simple, I’m thinking i’ll make it like the ones that are often attached inside gym tops 🙂

  16. I’m well impressed with your sampling through the manual. I tend to save the manual for when all else has failed! You will have fabulous fun with that machine.
    Pattern cutting can be an occasionally frustrating affair, but well worth persisting. Your top looks great 😃

    • Thankyou! I’m hoping the pattern drafting will speed things up as I tend to spend ages tracing and then getting the fit right of everything I make. I’m liking the sample book a lot, and felt very Blue Peterish when I was doing it! 🙂

  17. You are quite the impressive student! I usually give up early on….but have lots of “important” pages marked. Must try to imitate your organizing methods, the stitch samples, recordkeeping, etc. Your new top is just lovely!!

    • Thanks Jen. I think it’s def worth keeping any samples you have as you make new garments – I have a small box with old ones in but they don’t mean anything without any notes, so stuck on paper with a glue stick and a few notes will be really helpful int he future. So I’m going to be keeping them in the same folder too as I go along. 🙂

  18. Fiona M says

    Wow. Just wow.
    And I love the self drafted top, a great shape for all manner of uses.

    • Thanks Fiona, it’s been really useful, I’ve worn if for golf, with jeans and with my new pinafore dress, and it doesn’t need ironing, bonus!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s