Category Archives: Dressmaking

tomato shorts

(These are not rotten) tomato shorts- Vintage Pattern Pledge

I’ve already shown these to you along the way, but now comes the writing of them – the (most definitely not rotten ) tomato shorts.
Is it a silly question to ask a whole load of people who sew, if you ever have a completely spontaneous moment and find yourself making a purchase when you know restraint should be practiced? I think I know the answer!  I’m supposed to be spending less over the summer, since I had a holiday to afford and should be saving up for other things. But then I saw this fabric (It also comes in black). Just one metre won’t hurt will it? And my thought process rationalised that it would keep one metre of the rainbow fabric I showed in my previous post company in the post.  The deed was done. When the fabric arrived I could not believe how soft it was. I was expecting a kind of crisp quilting cotton, but this is much softer.
You can make a lot of things with a metre when it’s summer: tops, bags, hats, and …. definitely eligible for ….Shorts!!!

butterick 4186Remember these?  A cute pair of vintage shorts out of tomato fabric! Why yes please! I pulled out one of my vintage sportswear patterns for the 70s – made up previously here to great success, and cut them out before I changed my mind.

cutting out (Don’t you just love how vintage patterns have seam lines shown & cutting lines marked on them with scissors?!)

I love this pattern because it has a centre back zip, front & back waist darts, nice leg flare, but not too much, and has a flattering fit. It’s almost like a skirt at its top.  I wear these chambray shorts a lot, but when it’s hot don’t like the high waistband. I find myself undoing the button and folding the waistband over.

back of shortsThey are quite low slung, but great for feeling hot hot hot in.  I hate waistbands in the heat…

So when cutting out my tomato shorts, I omitted the waistband, and recut a new line an inch or so shorter so that the shorts would sit below waist. I created a facing to use instead and lo! sewed them up in a jiffy.

shortsYou know what’s else good when it’s hot, apart from low slung shorts?  A nice cold beer :-)

I’d forgotten that I’d added to the length of my chambray pair, so these shorts are quite a bit shorter, especially without the lace. But I like that. They are just what I like in a pair of summer shorts.  And I loooove wearing them.  So much in fact that I am half wondering whether to whip myself another pair up in some cool owl fabric I have got.  But that would shunt off some majorly important makes already on the sewing table & also in my head.  Now I’m back at work I guess my shorts wearing days are reduced :-(

And as a bonus they were the start of my sewing for the vintage sewing pattern pledge (even if I have blogged about them in the wrong order – after the bikinis).   These shorts are the third of my four vintage pattern makes that I have blogged about.  Just the dress to come.  Soon!

Bag and hat

Me Mades on the beach: bikini,sun hat & beach bag

Hola!  I’m holidayed & have had a lovely dose of Spanish sun, culture & gorgeous scenery.  I’m now at the Cornish coast too so have plenty of sand between my toes. As promised here are some action pics to determine the success or failure of some of the things I made for my three days in Spain on the beach.  Today I shall be revealing:

- Simplicity 9392 – the vintage 70s bikini

-McCalls 6450 – sun hat

-Rainbow beach bag using Handmade Jane’s fantastic tutorial for making a reversible shopping bag.

So the bikinis were made first & I was surprised at what a relatively quick make they were. The pattern is described as a “Time saver” – that should have given me a clue! I decided almost immediately that it would be effective to make two at the same time & actually having two bikinis on holiday is useful, isn’t it – you can alternate with always a dry one to put on.

bikiniLOL!  This is soooo disco!!

I chose fabric based on what I had in my stash & had some extra emerald lycra left over from my original retro style bikini. I also had some of that crazeee almost day-glo hologram lycra that I have used for other sports makes & worked out that there was no reason why it couldn’t also become a bikini. I did actually cut linings for each piece – even though this is not part of the pattern requirement, but it seemed “good practice”. So the only extra step this involved for sewing up was to baste the linings to each piece before sewing as per instructions. No biggee.

As a general observation, I’ve found that sewing swimwear usually involves very little overlocking/ serging – there might be some construction seams that you can piece things together using your overlocker, but there is a lot more done on your regular machine.  Interesting, huh?

bikini inside

As well as general construction for this design, I could tell from the pictures that there was some kind of ruching going on – I wasn’t clear how it would be achieved. There is ruching at each side of the bottoms & also in the middle of the bandeau top. It turns out that you need to sew these seams with a regular machine so that you can press the seam allowances each side of the seam to then gather up the ruching. Pieces of stay tape are top stitched down behind the gathering to secure.

Bikini(I debated putting photos of me in a bikini on the www.  BUT I was out there on the beach wasn’t I?)

There is a lot of swimwear elastic used – each edge – legs, waist, top & bottom edge of bandeau are finished with elastic & there are pattern pieces for each piece of elastic (rather than providing the measurements of the elastic that is needed).

Sewing it up then, in essence, was straightforward. Having made my retro style bikini earlier in the year I am confident with the process of attaching elastic to edges with zig zag – first sewing to the wrong side, then turning that over & sewing again.

emerald bikini

What about the wearing? Do I have as much fun as the girls on the pattern illustration?

Simplicity 9392

Way more! There a number of things I love about this bikini:

Security – This bikini has ample coverage in the bum department & the straps are discreet enough to wear whilst on the move, or swimming, but are easy enough to undo / tie behind to avoid extra white lines whilst collapsed on the sun bed.

Hassle-free wearing- no back strap buckle- just stretch the top over your head & position carefully. This was also a boon for construction too.

Swimability – no qualms about a gentle bob in the sea. It survived entering/ exiting via exciting breaking waves, however the bottoms are unlikely to survive diving in from the side of the pool.

back of bikini

I chose the colours of my bikinis to also match my tomato shorts but will blog about those separately.  But you might be asking why I didn’t wear my retro style bikini?  Well, whilst I love the bottoms, the top just doesn’t work for me – it has layers of fabric & feels too voluminous.  And needs straps to keep it up.  Its tie back is also bulky, so I have the best of both worlds if I use the new bikini top with the frilly bottoms now!

As you can see above, I also made myself beach essentials: a hat & a beach bag.

beach bag

The beach bag, as I said earlier was made using the excellent tutorial Jane has shared to make a reversible shopping bag. This was a quick make! All I did extra was to add some internal pockets to keep money & keys easy to access. It is the perfect size to carry a litre of water, book, beach towel, camera (& I bet there’s room for more!).

Lining bag

I made it using the rainbow fabric I have been coveting for ages, finally buckling & giving in one weekend (the same weekend I ordered the tomato fabric – you know how it works – you need to make it “worth” ordering so find something else you like!). I ordered a metre and was able to make this bag & the hat (but you’ll see I didn’t have enough to make the underneath brim). I lined the bag with some cake fabric I had in my stash that i had bought aaages ago & made a kids’ apron out of it.  So thank you Jane- great pattern & a really quick make. I shall be making one as a thank you present to a friend who lent me her suitcase. (A bit more enduring than a bottle of wine! Although maybe not quite so much fun!)


And the hat? McCalls 6450.  Well, I scraped around the leftovers of the rainbow fabric to whip it up the same morning. It is a simple make, to be fair. 6 crown pieces, interfaced and the brim. I have one crown piece with upside down rainbows (due to scrimping on the fabric) & the underneath brim should really be rainbows too, but there was no way I could eeek out enough fabric. (Although, had I cut bag & hat out together I think I probably could have).  The hat is lined (I used some macaroon fabric, matching the cake lined bag to a certain degree!). And I have to say I love it!

hat on head

My other sun hat was too bag (one I bought) & on top of a breezy headland I’d always feel at risk of losing it. This one fits me properly & is just right for keeping the sun off my head when I need it, & then scrunches up easily in the bag when I don’t want to wear it. I have designs on making this style up as a rain hat too, to match my trench coat out of microfiber fabric….

And as my recommended holiday read?  The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker.  A brilliant book.

Photo credits due to my awesome holiday buddy, Codename Cynthia. Thanks for the great time and documenting my makes in action!

Handmade Holiday wardrobe: 3 days on the beach in Spain

Hi folks!  A bit of a teaser post this one, as I am on holiday & am taking a break from blogging & email & general social media this week.  (Hence no replies to comments in my previous post yet)

I’ve set this up as I am really excited to have pulled it off! Part of my fevered sewing bender included a mass project making up practically a whole new capsule holiday wardrobe for going to Spain for three days on a beach holiday.  (Two days actually on the beach) I rarely go on hot foreign beach holidays – my beach experience tends to be Cornwall which has a less reliable climate & therefore requires different clothing options!  We are only taking cabin luggage so it’s in our interest to be efficient in packing.  So to celebrate & anticipate minimal weight but maximum wear opportunities, as I was packing I took this pic.

(Just my smalls, beach towel & toiletries not included)

Packing for the beach

I hope I have captured enough variety for travel, beach, cover up & smartening up a tad for the evenings.

I shall probably travel out in my BHL knit Victoria blazer as well as we shall arrive late at night.  Many of these things are as yet unblogged- so expect some shots on location!!

I’ve really enjoyed making some of these new things!  And look – 4 makes from vintage patterns as part of my Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge!  Can’t wait to show you !!!

Laurel top feature

Oh Lovely Liberty Lawn Laurel top

It was my shopping / inspiration trip with Jane that got me thinking about making a sleeveless Colette Patterns Laurel top out of one of my new Liberty Tana lawn pieces, bought with the lovely lady herself. I have been thinking of using a metre of Liberty lawn to make up a sleeveless button up blouse ( don’t worry, there will be one of those too), but when discussing patterns, like you do with other sewsters, a renewed vision for a Laurel visited me.

Laurel top
I wear my stripey 3/4 sleeved Laurel aplenty.  One of the reasons it works so well is that it is a classic colour and stripe for me, and I always feel it represents my style whenever I wear it.  Sewing the Laurel top is another fabulous experience- no closures, no facings and bias bound openings.  I’ve perfected my pattern so that darts are placed right for me, so to cut and sew is a simple exercise in all that is joyful about sewing.

Laurel top

Choosing  a Liberty print to make this I knew would create another classic piece for my wardrobe, and an occasion where the pattern needs to be clear, simple and classic to let the fabric do the talking.

Laurel top

I’ve made a sleeveless Laurel dress ( my elephants) and had used bias for the armholes and it worked successfully I felt, and therefore set to on an impulse one afternoon, slicing through my Liberty.  It came together as quickly as I had anticipated.  What’s more to say?

Laurel top

This little top is exactly what I had planned- the perfect classic tank top that can be worn tucked in or loosely with trousers or shorts.  I cannot wait to wear it with rolled up trousers, paddling in the sea.  Equally it has fared well being paired with a cardigan, tucked into my flora skirt, at work.  Oh and the other treasure about this ? You only need a metre of fabric.  Certainly worth an investment I’d say!

An interview with Lisa Lam & a giveaway

Well today I’ve rather a different kind of blog post from those I usually write.  I’ve an interview with the inspiring Lisa Lam (she of UHandbag & The Bag Making Bible) and a giveaway.
Now this is part of a promotional blog hop for Lisa’s new and exceedingly cute little girls’ dress patterns- the “Dance with me Dress” and the most gorgeous playsuit ever- the “Happiness Halter Playsuit”.  I covet them myself but thankfully can recognise that I have finally gone beyond making up cute girly clothes for myself to compensate for never having a daughter to sew for -  these are designed for small girls – graded for girls aged 2 to 6 years.


Now, I have never sewn for a little girl, apart from making fancy dress.  Whilst I was flattered to be invited to take part in this promotional tour,  before I committed to being part of it I had to ask myself how it fitted with what I usually blog about, and thought that actually hearing from Lisa herself how fun it can be to sew for little girls was my angle.  I mean potentially, girls clothes are smaller and cuter and could use some of those too-large-to-throw-away scraps of lovely fabric.  And if inspired enough, you could easily find a deserving little girl  to sew for, couldn’t you?

So I got excited to be able to ask Lisa some questions, hopefully some new to her questions as well, to share with you and give you a feeling for the person and inspiration behind her two patterns, with a chance to win yourself a copy of each at the end.

The Lisa Lam Sewing Patterns Collection is available now from the team at Stitch Craft Create.  Have a look at the schedule here to follow the blog hop!

Dance with Me Dress

SB: So you’ve been successfully designing and selling bags since 2003 with the launch of your online business in 2005 – Uhandbag, selling bag making supplies and patterns. Your  book, ‘The Bag Making Bible’ is a best seller and even known of by people who haven’t yet made a bag, why the new direction into designing clothes to sew for little girls?

LL: My little girl, Mabel, has been the prompt for my designing clothes for little girls. I almost feel that it wouldn’t be right for Mabel to grow up without wearing ‘mummy made’ clothes. My mum made loads of my clothes when I was little and those clothes bring back happy memories. As I can design patterns I wanted to take it bit further and design for my daughter, as well as sew for her.


SB: Your designs are so cute – a dress, a playsuit and a halter top. What kind of situations / occasions do you have in mind when conjuring up your designs? What/ who motivates and inspires your designs?

LL: Thanks very much! As I’m a (almost painfully) pragmatic person I like my clothes and accessories to be uber versatile. As such I don’t own party dresses, rather for occasions, I like to wear classic shapes made in wondrous fabrics and/or accessorise to max. I like taking this approach in children’s dressing – keeping it simple and keeping it versatile. So I honestly think all of the my clothes would look just as great a wedding as they would at a play date. Just change up the fabric to suit the occasion and of course you can accessorise with party shoes or dress down with sneakers. Would I personally wear a playsuit to a wedding? Yeah totally! J Though I am aware of trends I don’t really follow them, my designs are very much led by my desire to be practical and my desire ‘to look most agreeable’. Haha!

SB: Haha!  I love the idea of wearing a playsuit to a wedding too!! Do you make clothes for yourself? What kind?

LL: At university I used make myself flowy tank and camisole tops and strappy dresses. I also baggy silk pyjama bottoms. I’d wear these items with chunky workman’s style boots and a felt cloche hat. At the time I thought I looked the business!

SB:  What a stylish & comfortable student wardrobe!  What’s the difference between designing for children and for adults do you think?

LL: Well, I haven’t really designed for adults (simply because it’s trickier Getting a fantastic fit for adults involves working with curves and angles (that children don’t have!).

SB: Many of my readers are probably in a similar situation to me – a bit more free time with kids that are older. But we might have little girls we could sew for if we were feeling unselfish & fancied a frill flurry. So sewing for little girls – I am sure it takes a lot less time – but how long, really, would it take someone who is able to make their own clothes whip up one of your designs? what’s the advantage in sewing for little girls as opposed to ourselves?!

LL: Ohh that’s easy! As little girls are more petite, it’s faster also little girls don’t have the curves that we do (well sadly I’m not curvy, (I’m a ruler!) but you know what I mean). This means that don’t have concentrate so much on getting a precise form-fit for little girls.


SB:  I get it!  Yes. Clearly one of the reasons your designs stand out is because of your bold fabric choices, or is it that they provide the perfect canvas for showing off fabulous fabric. Traditionally I know the temptation would be to choose a ditsy small scale print for a little girl’s dress. What tips can you give to become more courageous with larger scale prints?

LL: Hmm, nice question! I think the best tip is to trust your taste! If you (and you little girl) like big scale prints, and/or wacky colours then great! Sew with them and have fun. The whole point of sewing for yourself is that you have to freedom to break free from what is: safe, predictable and (let’s face it) easy to shift in the shops. As sewists, we don’t have to conform, if we don’t want to and we should embrace that!

SB: And I love a bit of piping and ric rac – what scope is there for embellishment?

LL: Jumbo ric rac in rainbow colours? Yes please! Pop it on: necklines, sleeve holes, hems, on the a purse strap, bodice line and edging on pocket openings.

SB:  A ric rac user after my own heart!   I had boys, and although I sewed a few things for them when they were toddlers (eg I particularly remember a blankety rainbow duffle coat, a large scale polka dot shirt, gingham dunga-shorts – poor boys!!) and am now making them man-shirts (yay!) I think there is a gap in the market for cute boys’ clothes which could also take advantage of the fab fabric designs that are now available. I know you are inspired to make for your own, and maybe if you had a boy it would be different, but have you had any thoughts about designing cute things for little boys?

LL: Haha! Your boys were lucky! Actually, Mabel’s bestest buddy in the whole wide world ever, ever, is a (same age) boy and his mum and I are good pals. So I will be sure to make him some cool clothes, as the years go by.

SB: I would love to see what you had up your boy-design sleeve!  Now, finally,  I am always fascinated by how people got into sewing. Do you have a sewing guru? Who sparked your interest in sewing? How did you develop your sewing skills?

LL: My sewing guru is my mum. My mum had 4 children and had to work in the family business so unsurprisingly she didn’t have much time to spare (I don’t think I’d have coped as well as she did!). As a child one of the best ways of spending time with mum was to sit with her as she stitched up clothes or soft furnishings for us. Crafting with mum was great for me because I enjoyed learning these cool new skills and it was great for mum because she could keep an eye on me!

SB: And I bet Lisa’s going to be passing her love of sewing onto Mabel too as the years go by.  Thank you so much Lisa for your lively Q&A!  It’s been a real pleasure hearing about your side of pattern designing & sewing for children, yourself & your sewing roots.

Now I said that there is a chance to win a copy of these two patterns.  Leave a comment before 1 August and you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a free copy of the Dance with Me Dress and Happiness Halter Playsuit pattern booklets!

Lilou dress

My butterfly Lilou dress

Here is my July Minerva make – starting with the fabric- this pretty cream fabric with a plethora of butterflies flipping their way across it. I must admit that when I saw it on the website I did not read the description properly, was entranced by the design thinking it would make a wonderful July sundress. When it arrived it is actually more of a canvas weight, almost a drill & looking back at the website, sure enough, it is described as a medium weight. SO peeps, just imagine what a cool western style skirt this would make, or shorts as well as a dress with more structure, which is the route I took.


This type weight fabric is ideal for the BHL Elisalex. Just saying. That was almost the dress I made. But then I conferred with Marie who I remembered had used curtains to make her first Lilou dress from Tilly’s book, Love at First Stitch. It was fortuitous that I could take Marie to the fabric itself at Minerva’s store, get feeling & ask the question, “Lilou?”. And the rest is history.

This is my first make out of Love at First Stitch (apart from the Brigitte scarf) and I am thrilled with the result. I sewed this frock up in time for my trip to London, feeling certain I could grab some iconic backdrops to show it off against. But I am skipping ahead a bit.

The Lilou has an option to add scallops to the neckline, which of course I could not resist. Having traced off the pattern already, it was not too much extra effort to add some curves to the neckline using a can of kidney beans (any tin can is acceptable by the way ;-) ).

Lilou dress

Sewing the Lilou is a delight. The bodice is lined & Tilly encourages you to shave ¼” off the lining so that it is smaller than the shell, thereby eliminating the occurrence of lining creep to the outside when wearing.   Just look at the inside.

Lilou dress


That is such a joyful sight. So neat. Getting the lining turned through the shoulder strap can be a little struggle, but one way works better than the other – I think I pushed the lining through first rather than my thicker shell fabric with easier results.

Lilou  dress

If you are making a dress with this fabric I would also strongly recommend a pleated skirt- this weight fabric is much more amenable to pleats than gathers – easier & lies so much better.

I used a lapped zipper for this dress – I seem to have sewn so many invisibles recently & I had got utterly fed up with them – I do like me a lapped zipper using my Mum’s method which is my standard comfort zone of zip insertion.

Lilou dress

It is a cute dress & easy to make. I REALLY like it. If anything, you will see that the upper bust could do with a bit more room, & that is because I didn’t make a muslin/ toile but just compared the pattern pieces to my “TNT” bodice (Simplicity 2444). I did take my usual wedge out of the centre back, but maybe don’t need to. I shall experiment when I make my next one (because this is too pretty to be an only child in my wardrobe!).

Are you interested to know about the photos? I bet you are.

London 52 floors upView from floor 52

I only travelled up 52 floors of the Shard to the cocktail bar. Just for you. Truly. The Margueritas were incidental, a hardship I had to endure.

Lilou at the shard

(If you are thinking of replicating this experience it’s best to book ahead – but not always necessary if you time it for a non peak time).

Lift buttons

These photos were actually taken half way down. What an awesome view!

Shard view

Here’s the landmark standing proud …


And making the most of my time in London, I found my way to Liberty of London too with the fabulous Jane!!  (I was in awe at all the scarves…can you tell? They make a fabulous backdrop!)

Jane at Liberty

More scarves …

Lilou dress at Liberty

What an experience (my first time can you believe it!)  There was so much to see.  Here are a few of my faves.

2014_06_20 Liberty

And I just loved the fabric-decoupage “game”. The hares even had eyelashes!

These are the two fabrics I treated myself to – as I know you’re interested.

Tana Lawn purchasesTana Lawn.  Beauts!  And my latest sewing bender means that one of them has already been sewn up……I’ll keep you guessing, but you’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting it right!



The Flora skirt

Way hey! I’m on holiday folk, & does it feel not quite real yet? I still feel I’ve got work tomorrow…looking forward to that passing, oh yes! I was making a list today of the massive sewing bender I have continued since finishing my whiteboard & consequently I have many “F.O.”s to show you. Jeepers- there’s a lot.   I seem to have got a form of sewing madness – now I am no longer “directed” by my whiteboard I’ve got a spontaneity steam engine driving me!!!  I will pace myself for revealing them to you. First up I thought I would show you my red Flora skirt.

Flora skirt

Yes I followed the BHL pattern hack to take the gorgeousness that is the almost circle skirt with knife pleats & box pleats from the Flora dress & make it into a skirt. The idea appealed to my sense of practical but super stylish separates as soon as I saw it.

Flora skirt

You know that usually for me it is the fabric first and pattern second? Well it was the opposite with this. When I was in the hallowed Minerva Halls I searched out a suitable fabric for this very purpose – of course red being my basic colour I gravitated towards the reds first & picked out this viscose as it has the most awesome drape & is light weight enough for a summer skirt. (Actually this is an amazing weight for a summer skirt – really comfy to wear) And at £4.99 per metre it’s a bargain. Now the thing you need to know is that if you make the Flora (dress or skirt) out of less than 60” width fabric you may have to compromise a little on the amount of flare & take a small wedge out of the side seams (drawing / folding a new line from the waist to the hem at the point you run out of fabric!) But I did this with this & my Flora dress & you can’t tell can you?


Just a note on sewing viscose – by its nature you are getting a drapey fabric but this means it has the tendency to mess you around a bit on curved & bias edges particularly.  Stay stitching the upper edges ( the waist edges) of each piece help counter this.  Also, when hemming such a full skirt, let it hang over night & measure from the floor up – well that’s what I do anyway – I have my hem marker on Barbarella which is such a boon for skirts like this.

Flora skirt

So making the skirt was a cinch. You just add a waistband. And I also added pockets. I managed to find an invisible zip so followed the instructions in the tutorial to the letter, but then added a bit extra. I was intrigued by the invisible zip plus waistband method- & wanted to replicate the zip finishing at the top of the waistband.  My comfort zone is sewing regular zips that would be different – the zip top would end at the seam joining waistband to skirt.

Flora skirt zip

The tutorial gets you to attach the folded waistband to the skirt first & then insert the invisible zip all the way up the waistband & skirt – well, that’s the look I was after wasn’t it? So before I went on with the zip I bias bound the waistband to skirt seam allowance with pretty black polka dot bias as my overlocked edges were a bit on the scruffy side. And after inserting the zip there is a seam allowance coming off from the waistband as well as the skirt & I wasn’t happy that this looked very neat with my two-tone overlocked edges either. So I bound them with polka dot bias as well. (oops, looks a bit mismatched !)  (I used the selvedge edges for the CB seam so no overlocking required there).


Now I was thinking about how you might add an invisible zip to a skirt all the way up a waistband & not have seam allowances showing. You know, one of those sewing puzzles that occupies a walk to work? And of course you’d have to make the waistband in two pieces – with a facing. Glad I worked that one out.

Flora skirt

So the skirt itself is perfect! It’s got mega swoosh & swing– can you tell?

Flora skirt

I’ve been wearing it a couple of times since I’ve made it to work but it is also darling enough for out of work too. I so like pretty things that suits the two-faces of my wardrobe habits!

Flora  skirt

And two things about the photos.  First I look like death!  I took them before work one morning & it shows that I need a holiday!  But also the blouse is an old make from the 90s.  I love it & it felt to be just the right thing to crack out for the first time I wore my Flora skirt.  It’s made from a posh polyester that I remember cost me more than my habitual cheapskate fabric habits but totally shows that making “investment” purchases, even of fabric pay long term dividends.  It’s survived the years with just a small melt to one of the collar tips with a lazy iron!!  And that’s ironic as it doesn’t always need ironing, being polyester.

So, happy Sunday everyone!!  We’ve got a “mini street party” today with a French theme as it is close to Bastille Day.  That was my contribution – means we can dress up!  Hahaha!!!


Vintage pattern pledge update!

Oh folks I have had a mega busy fortnight here and have lots of blog posts in the pipeline, but neither the time nor the energy to write them all up, but for a quick fix, I’ve had a burst of vintage pattern sewing!! I’ve made two up already ( just about) and have two more ear- marked for my Spanish holiday!! Want to see?

They all will surely qualify towards my non committal vague intention to join the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge

Ok, I made these up last weekend I think. I’m waiting for actual hot holiday sun to bathe these shorts in for photos on this blog, but catch a glimpse of them now. The fabric is awesome (Robert Kaufman Metro market) in a brighter chartreuse than this photo suggests. Butterick 4186, just love the sporty ensemble!!

Butterick tennis pattern

Then there’s this dress I made up spontaneously out of some sari fabric in my stash. I will really enjoy telling you the story about it, but for now check out Mccalls 4007 in hot pink! This pattern is vintage, isn’t it? It’s from the 90s ( which blimey is best part of 20 years old) therefore in my mind that qualifies. But how scarey is that, referring to the 1990s as vintage now. Hmm. I’m sure purists will disagree with me!

McCalls 4007

Now I need a new bikini for my hol, and haven’t the time to make a wonderful vintage style ruffled lovely but this one looks simple enough?  Simplicity 9392 & surely it won’t take up tooo much fabric.  The cozzie’s quite simply lovely too.

Simplicity 70s swimsuit

Then if I’ve time I’m feeling more shorts coming on stream…..if I’ve time mind you. I’ve some mid blue light weight linen in my stash….ahoy!  Sailor shorts !  This is a gorgeous 60s Simplicity 7024 & came into my possession when my hips were a leeetle bit larger than the pattern, but I reckon I can get a good squeeze into them now.

Simplicity 60s sailor trousers

So there I was feeling a little bit rubbish for so far not making any vintage patterns up, and suddenly, like buses, I’ve had a run! Must be summer holiday madness!!  What do you think?  Are you more inspired to sew summer vintage patterns?  I hadn’t really thought about it before, I’d be interested to know  if you have found the same thing?

I’ll be back this weekend with some more detailed makes.  *So excited to show you *!!

And I’m on holiday now for a fortnight- how fab is that!  Time to recoup that lost energy :-)

Washing fabric

Mistress Whiteboard

Last weekend I hit a significant milestone: I had completed my three month sewing plan. So what’s the big deal, I hear you ask? Well, this was my programme:

And folks we know there’s only a finite number of hours in the day, particularly if you’re sewing on the side to your full time job &/or looking after a family (I’d have even less time if I had a family to look after!)

So what did I do (after the initial panic, but determination to make absolutely everything I had in mind?) Why I went all project planner! This would tell me if it was possible to accomplish all of this with the time I had available to sew. We are talking serious planning, like a pro.

whiteboardThat jibberish  makes sense to me! 

My tools: a calendar/ diary & a whiteboard. Each make had its own deadline – ie when it was needed for – & therefore that became my prioritised list. I then had to look at what my social life was doing for each weekend & allocate weekends for each make. I recorded this in my calendar & also on the whiteboard. It was really clear to me what I should be working on & when. I built in some contingency (which was needed) & am glad to say finished my last piece a day early.

I also managed to squeeze in quite a few other makes that were “off plan” & certainly not in the prioritised list. I need some form of spontaneity, I don’t think I could have only sewn rigidly what was on my list. And having the list enabled me to see whether I could sew something else. And when I was asked to help test the odd pattern I did not turn anyone down (cos, that would have been very frustrating to me – I love helping out as a pattern tester!!) So I also sewed:

Still, you may be thinking, why the big deal? I bet there are people who this is a normal approach for sewing. Well it’s not for me & partly I was experimenting on myself. I tend to be rather a spontaneous sewer – sewing where the mood & current inspiration takes me.

Dragon fly and pincushionDragonfly visiting my pins!

If I am to change my career direction, (at some point) how do I cope when I feel I “have” to do something creative? When sewing is usually something I do after my chores, how do I feel about sewing first & then doing my chores? It was a way to make me think differently about something that is foremost a hobby & a pleasure.

It was really interesting. I achieved everything on the list to every event deadline. I sewed a helluva lot, considering there were off-plan makes too as well as more involved formal wear with toiles.   I even managed some weekend spells on the sunlounger to soak up an early suntan (gotta be done).

But it was different. I felt bound. But was motivated enough to know why – eg sewing a velvet skirt that was being a pain was for a particular posh do; sewing my cheong sam so well in advance was for a particular date & necessary to make sure I could sew everything else to deadline. It did not eliminate the joy of sewing, but it did reduce it sometimes. I think Mistress Whiteboard kept my head down & focussed. Does that mean I am not focussed usually? Well, I sew in the moment & am focussed very much on the current make, perhaps processing options for what my next make will be. And then as I write this the thought that occurs to me “Is that a metaphor for how I live my life maybe? “   DEEP.  Let’s leave that thought there & go back to the logistics.

If anything a couple of things dropped off from my normal homelife: a few runs & also better meal planning. Food suffered I am afraid- not that I had loads of takeaways, I just didn’t put so much effort into cooking – I probably had more meals consisting of a load of roasted veg.   Both these things being casualties are something I will have to be mindful of since exercise & eating well are all part of the balance.

And tell you what. The size of the relief I felt on Saturday evening on completing my final make from Mistress Whiteboard was HUGE. I had my own celebration! I made a cake.

What do you think? When I shared my whiteboard photo on Twitter a few people commented that they should do something like that – but should you?  Do you?

It will help your sewing productivity, but at what expense? I’m interested to know. Needless to say I am currently without a plan but my focus is holiday sewing. Just how much can I make for my imminent holiday ….but I’ve taken the splatter gun approach, cutting 5 things out yesterday evening ….!


Sporty Summer Sewathon: Give me an “oooh”!

When Karen announced the “Sporty Summer Sewathon” I had already an outfit in mind – the concept was perfect, the timing was perfect.  Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? (I think that’s someone else’s catch phrase)

Yes, I may have mentioned that I was planning to sew me up a cheerleader outfit for my friend’s 4th July American themed birthday party.  I had made some early investigations & had captured some inspiration on my Cheerleader chic Pinterest board.  

My colours were to be red & white.


What I hadn’t revealed was that my cheerleader outfit was not going to be purely for fancy dress: I wanted to make it out of running-appropriate fabrics so that I could re-use it.  I have made quite a few things out of sporty wicking fabric from UKFabricsonline, (and yes, I am thrilled that they are one of my sponsors now, but I have been a long standing customer of theirs and would say this regardless).  My plan was to use wicking fabric to make a vest top and a running skirt with shorts a la cheerleader.  Now in the past I have used the mock eyelet to make plenty of tops with (eg here and here)  – this is not suitable for leggings, as it doesn’t have enough stretch.


So when UKFabricsonline started to stock this high quality stretchy lycra I snapped some up.  It is really the most gorgeous quality- slinky & reasonably light weight – but suitable for leggings as well as tops too.   I bought red, white & aqua….just a metre of each – wish I could afford more at the time as it is the kind of fabric you just want to have available for any spontaneous running makes!  This is the fabric that I used for the skort.  And after spotting that a few of these fabrics are out of stock I had a small correspondence with UKFabrics Online & it seems that they are trying to source another supplier, so snap them up while they have them is my advice.  BUT folks – check out the animal print.  You know you want to.  A small digression….


Anyways. Gosh I feel I can really rabbit on sometimes, can’t I?  So the design for my outfit.  Inspired by my Pinterest Board I started with the top.  The easier option.  I used Maria Denmark’s “Just a Tank” pattern, comparing it to a well fitting running vest I already have just for best fit  & added a contrast yoke to it & changed the hemline slightly to match with my running top (it’s a bit shorter & has a slightly longer curved back hem).  The yoke was intended to be more of a “V” shape, but I didn’t draft the “V” sharp enough so with sewing it appears more as a gentle curve.  If I hadn’t mentioned that, you wouldn’t have even noticed would you?

cheerleader top

I used red & white mock eyelet for this.  I also cut some strips of the white & with the long raw edges folded in created binding to embellish the yoke shape with a couple of stripes.  I attached them using my regular machine using a zig zag stitch, attaching them before then sewing the top as per instructions.

cheerleader skirt

Then onto the skirt.  I wanted to make it with integral shorts so used the inner shorts from Jalie skort pattern (2796) & cut them out of the quality stretch lycra in white.  The skirt in my mind just had to be made up with four box pleats of contrasting white amongst a sea of red gorgeousness.  I had started to design my own skirt pattern with box pleats, but due to the negative ease at the top of the skirt & what it did to the fall & lay of the box pleats I would have had to really play around with the drafting in the particular skirt shape I had started with.   So I remembered Peneloping’s Lady Skater pattern hack for her Lady Peggy dress.  I took the skirt pattern from the Lady Skater dress & shortened it considerably.  I then roughly followed Peneloping’s measurements for additional box pleats- I think my white insertions were about 6″.  Oh yes, the fabric I used was the super lovely quality lycra mentioned above, not the mock eyelet – I don’t know if that would have enough stretch at the waistband.  And then I sewed it as a skort, adding a waistband too.

cheerleader 5

Now the intention is to wear this skort running but it is rather bright, isn’t it?  It might evolve into a race day skort I am thinking, with my next run being the Great North Run in September.  And the vest?  That can be paired with other things in my me made running wardrobe, even though I am not usually a fan of go faster stripes.

cheerleader 4

But what about the experience of being a cheerleader for a night?  Well.  My friends it was the best!  I made me some pom poms, rehearsed a few crap moves, worked out that I could get away with chanting, “Hey Beccy, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Beccy”.  The travel to the party was a bit warm to say the least, feeling the need to hide my glory under mac & hat as I walked into town….I may appear to be a bit of an exhibitionist, but only in the right circles and amongst friends!


But when I was at the party it was just right!  Wicking fabric must have helped when I came all of a glow under the disco ball.  And I cannot recommend dancing with pom poms enough.  They are the ultimate disco essential & bring out such great moves on the dancefloor (well I thought so anyway!).  They are fun to share too- check out how other people adapt their dancing to pom poms.  Oh yeah.  And dancing with pumps on?  The best.  Why do we dance with heels & hard shoes?!!!

Cheerleader collage

Now whilst I felt my outfit was pretty cool, having made it all myself there were others who had put in a tremendous effort.  From the spaceman (female) complete with papier mache helmet & jet pack to the couple who came as the Boston Tea Party – one as a human tea bag (I kid you not) with the other as a human tea cup.  I could not imagine the car journey – but I am pretty sure they would not have walked into town & certainly could not have hid under a mac & hat!!  There were some amazing outfits & quite a few red, white & blue concoctions which looked brilliant together.  Fancy dress parties are brilliant for group dances – Marilyn, Minnie Mouse, Obama, “Fat” Barbie  & Danny Zuko  as we formed lines to dance the macarena (improved with the addition of pom poms).    It’s certainly party season & I’m loving it!

So to conclude.  This outfit has already been trialled as a dance outfit & was a complete success.  Next stop seeing how it performs (as separates) for running.

Anyone else joining in the Sporty Summer Sewathon?  How’s it going?