Ahoy There!

I’ve got my dressing making sew-jo back this summer with this great pattern by Fancy Tiger Crafts Sailor Top. It’s a really good fit on me. I made a small first time but found it a bit voluminous round the middle, so the second time I took it down to an XS from the bust to the hem. This pattern is a bit deceptive as the first 80% is really easy and just as you feel like you’ve nearly finished – you get to the neck gathers! This nearly broke me first time round but second time round I knew what to expect and found it much easier. I’m tempted to make another. The fabric mule husband has just come back from LA with a couple of yards of lawn, which would be lovely for this top.

The first one I made was a blue floral lawn, (I have a Laurel top in the same fabric) and the second in some Robert Kaufman chambray, which feels lovely to wear. I still need to get the hang of the dressmaking selfie!



Winter Washi

During a dig through my fabric cupboard last week I came out in cold sweat when I realised I still hadn’t used some of the fabric yardage I bought back in October. I’d bought it with the intention of making a winter washi dress. (I made one in July and LOVED wearing it so much!)

As I was about to order more yardage ahead of my husband’s next trip to New York, I thought I’d better get on with it – while it was still winter!

Making something a second time is just dreamy – especially when it was a good fit the first time. I got this made in a day. I just had enough fabric for 3/4 length sleeves but not long ones as planned. I got this dress out of 2 yards of Denise Schmidt Chicopee – witch was an incredible £3.90 a yard when I was across the pond in October.

This time I left the neck scooped rather than notched. I did a lined bodice – as per the tutorial here which was really easy and gave a great finish.

I omitted the pockets (again – as with last time I ended up taking a good inch off the skirt on each side). The sleeves I used are the ones from the josephine pattern, as I felt the washi sleeves were a bit blousy for this fabric and again I didn’t have enough.

As with my previous dress it’s such a good fit and shape for me and it works really well with boots and a cardigan.



A Trio of Laurel’s

I’ve not done any garment sewing since before the summer holidays, so I was itching to get on with something for the autumn and to use up some of the yards of fabric I bought back in June  – just waiting to be made into something nice.

I am lucky enough to be heading off to Canada (all by myself!) at the end of the week for a friends 40th birthday celebrations. I’m very excited and had planned to make the Colette Laurel dress to wear to the party. After making a muslin I decided it wasn’t for me – and knowing that I don’t often wear dresses plumped for the top version instead. I started it on my wonderful sewing weekend back at the beginning of October.

It comes to together so quickly and was such a great fit on me I made two more!
The first is a quilting cotton (fairly fine) it’s called Koi by Rashida Coleman Hale – this is the one I have in mind for Christmas parties with smart jeans and black boots. (I’m quite glad I didn’t make a whole dress in this)

The second fabric is Color Me Happy Cluster Dots in Emerald. I LOVE that green and it looks fab with royal blue. Its a heaver quilting cotton but is actually really nice to wear and suits the shape of the top well.

The third is a lightweight lawn – which again is lovely to wear but does crumple like a bugger – I think this will be more suited to summer.

I made a couple of adjustments to the pattern: I lengthened it by 1/2″.  Took in the sides 1/2″ (probably could do with a bit more – but I didn’t want to loose the nice shape) and deepened and lengthened the back darts by an inch.  I love the nice easy binding on the sleeve – so much easier than attaching cuffs and there isn’t too much gathering to wrangle when adding the sleeves. I hand finished all the binding, as I know from previous attempts at machining it didn’t look very neat. I’ve not managed to find a photographer for proper photos – so these headless selfies will have to do!



the sun has got his hat on….

We are having a pretty nice summer in England so far, so more summer wardrobe sewing has been happening.

A little update on my first sugar pop top…I made another! This time I was brave and used some of the fabric my husband brought back from the USA. This fabric is Flea Market Fancy, posie in grey. It’s a lovely retro print and I do love grey (though my wardrobe is becoming all kinds of colourful at the moment).

After not being happy with the bust darts last time, I traced the ones from the Josephine top pattern, this worked a treat. I cut a small size this time but scooped out a bit more round the arm holes. I’ve worn it loads. I do see why people avoid using quilting cottons for dress making, it is quite heavy compared with some of the other fabrics I’ve used.

Here it is still in need of hemming.





My next make, hot off the press, is a Washi dress. Another fab pattern by Made by Rae. It’s a dream to wear and should cover up my French bread excess in a few weeks. I was inspired by seeing Joanne’s version and hearing her rave about it . I decided right away that my bright green Chinese Lantern fabric would he perfect.  To be honest there are so many amazing versions of this dress all over the sewing-web, its not hard to feel inspired.

A few things to remember for next time…

  • The shiring at the back was a of a test of patience as my machine really didn’t like having elastic in it’s bobbin! .
  • I decided to ditch the pockets in favour of a more streamlined skirt.
  • I’m not over the moon with the U shape at the front. It’s a bit stiff and sticks out. I may go for the scoop neck next time (which I see Joanne has done too!)
  • The top half is a bit roomier than I’d like, but as this will be a summer dress, that’s probably not a bad thing.  I went for a conservative half way house between small and medium – but I think a small would be fine, there is quite a bit of give across the shoulders (which is the bit that’s always tight on me) thanks to the shiring and the arm holes are generous.

So here I am swishing about in the garden. Thanks to my husband for tearing himself away from work to take the photos (I did make him lunch as a bribe!)







Sugar Pop!

As usual all my blog posts and sewing activity seem to all be happening at once!

True to my word I got straight on with making a Sugar Pop Top. I haven’t dug into my new stash of precious fabric yet, as I thought a test version might be a good idea.

I’ve had this blue floral lawn fabric for a long time. I bought it to cover a breastfeeding pillow when my son (who is now 9) was born.  Its very pretty and I had no idea I had so much of it left.

So, the making of the top,  here’s a quick run down as I have precisely 5 minutes until I need to take youngest child to school!

Things I like:

  • Simple to sew
  • pretty shaped collar and capped sleeves
  • minimal fabric usage
  • The binding on neck and arms gives a really nice finish.

Things I’ll change next time:

  • I was a bit between sizes. I cut a medium but there was a lot of spare fabric round my middle, so I did some creative cutting and made it go in a lot more in the middle.
  • The bust darts went a bit wrong. For some reason when I went to sew them they were a rather funny angle and the pointy bits (technical!) along the edge didn’t meet – not sure if this is my pattern printing/sticking together, or if is how they were supposed to be. I adjusted them so that they lined up but this meant creating a new end point.  Generally I think they need to be longer and lower down as they are  a bit up under my arm pits!!
  • My arm holes ended up rather tight, probably due to me taking in the side seams. They were fine until I did the binding, so I will make some adjustment for this next time.
  • binding is a fiddle! I will use bought binding next time as it’s stiffer and has a folded edge already. I ended up finishing my binding by hand stitching as it was the only way to get it sewn on neatly without loosing my mind. All that said I really like the bound neck and arm finish, it looks really nice.
  • I used binding on the bottom hem as it was already quite short and I didn’t want to shorten it any more by turning it up. It looks nice with binding but I think i will add on a bit to the length and do a blind hem next time.

Time to go – son is nagging me from downstairs – I will leave you with some pictures!




Sewing Over-Drive

My sewing mojo has gone slightly through the roof this week. After my initial attempt at garment sewing a few weeks back I was itching to try more. I had fabric and patterns waiting in the wings so last weekend I made another Tova – this one wasn’t out of a vintage curtain but some nice cotton with a fine stripe. It all turned out beautifully with only a few lumpy bits and puckers. I made a small this time and it was nearly TOO small across the chest. I’ve pretty much been wearing it all week, it’s so comfortable and flattering.


My other clothing make of the week (get me!) is the Josephine top by Made by Rae. I’ve had the fabric for this for a while – I bought it with a voucher I won for my local sewing machine and fabric shop.  This was fun to make and actually less tricky than the Tova in a lot of ways. I had plans for dinner with friends last night and had really hoped to get the top finished in time. On getting in at 3pm I had a top with no cuffs, no neckline or hem. I threw some dinner on for the kids and the set to it. I finished it with half an hour left to bung on some make up.  It’s a great pattern because there is elastic at the back to adjust the fit. I made the small – though the elastic measurements for this were a bit tight to I had to add on a bit more so I could breathe!


I’ve also been sewing for my daughters birthday on Monday – but that will have to stay a secret for now.  So, a VERY productive week! My husband says I am displaying addictive behaviour. It’s true! – I am totally hooked on the idea of making clothes for my self, it’s so exciting!  I need to step away from the sewing machine as we have an 11th birthday sleepover to organise.


I’ve had my first go at solo garment sewing and it amazingly it was a success!

I bought the Tova pattern as it looked nice and easy. My friend Mary had made one and mentioned on her blog a very useful sew-a-long that Kerry ran last year.

For a my first try I wanted something in expensive which didn’t matter if it was rubbish at the end. I decided on a 1970’s habitat curtain, which had been lingering in my vintage sheet cupboard. It’s quite a stiff cotton, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be making my life more difficult with that.

Kerry kindly provided email support when I couldn’t work out the collar and explained an alternative way of sewing on the placket. The online sewing world is just fab!

The pattern suggests trying the top and making any adjustments once you have the placket sewn in. I took it in at the waist quite a lot but kept a nice a-line tunic shape. I also took it up on the shoulders as there was rather a lot of baggy fabric at the front. These are the kind of things that I would have found daunting but I remembered a surprising amount from my dressmaking course before Christmas.

Ok so the fabric is a bit odd but I’m so pleased with the fit. I can’t wait to make another. That said, I am still going to wear it to the pub tonight !




A Dress!

Hello to all my new followers from the Sew Mama Sew giveaway. I really hope you stick around and enjoy my blog.

This week was the last week of my dress making course. Before the class I had to tackle putting in my zip. Which lead to a bit more of this

20131211-141633.jpg but eventually (thankfully!) I got it in with my seams lined up

So at this weeks class Lesley did some pinning to help us get our dresses fitting properly. Then we attacked them with the scissors, which was rather unnerving to say the least! I had to cut right though my lovely shoulder seams. It was all for a good cause and in my case to make the top half a bit shorter.

So here’s the final result and a little montage of some of the other finishes.


It’s been great fun and I’m fully determined to carry on and make some more clothing. My dress and I are off out on the town tonight!

Pin for your life!

Week 4 of my dressmaking course: The weeks are just flying by now. Tonight I spent the evening (trying to) insert my zip. This involved a lot of pinning.

20131202-212427.jpg I am slightly cursing my quite fine slippery fabric. Emily advised me to get fabric with a bit of structure and I can see why now. The first side of the zip went on ok

20131202-213819.jpg but the other side was fraught with puckering, seams not matching and general zip woe! 9 pm came round and I was left with 18 inches of zip to unpick for a second time. Pah! I will tackle it in the cold light of day tomorrow.

It is interesting to see how we are all progressing. At the moment Lisa and her tartan dress are nearly finished (although she did admit to doing extra homework). Lucy (polka dots) and I are at about the same stage. We’ve both had various bouts of unpicking. Then there is Angela (teal) who had just re sewn all her darts but is now just starting her zip. Then Bill (neon pink) and Harriet (tartan too) who are still attaching facings. In hope we can get to a degree of finished-ness to get a photo at our final class next week.

It’s Taking Shape!

Dressmaking class number 3 involved leaning what exactly a 5/8th’s of an inch is, which wasn’t where I thought it was on my machine. This also lead to a bit of unpicking. There was also some snipping and a lot of concentration not to snip too far!

20131125-214920.jpg We attached our facings and I got as far as sewing on the front skirt pieces. It’s all taking shape and I now have the front half of a dress! Sorry for the average photo, I didn’t get a chance to spread it out properly until I got home.

I also found that someone took a sneak pic of us through the shop window!