Category Archives: Dressmaking

Sun beams

Derby dress by Christine Haynes


My seaweed told me there might be some sunshine heading our way, all the motivation I needed to make up the Derby sundress by Christine Haynes, bought recently from SewBox.


derby dress


And what’s more it ties in rather nicely with the Sundress Sew-a-long hosted by the effervescent Heather B for the months of July to August.  Now there’s a Flickr group to celebrate our makes, but since Flickr joined forces with Yahoo, it’s become one extra login too far & I never ever remember my Yahoo details, and have given up on Flickr.  So I shall be hashtagging a teeny bit in Twitter and Instagram instead.  (#sundresssew15 )
Handmade By Heather B

So back to the story of THIS sundress…..I had earmarked some fabric, an end of roll that I bought from the Fabric Godmother, during one of her big sales-( there is a sale going on at the moment – remnants ripe for the picking– as long as they haven’t sold out, the reductions are pretty impressive. )  Back to the Derby though.

Remember I was inspired by Florence’s so much so that I kept the memory alive using my less than perfect hippocampus, which shows the impression it must have made on me.    It is an a-line shift, quite baggy really, made out of six panels providing princess seams.  The spaghetti straps are part of a neat neckline finish, that also incorporates a facing.  I think it works well.  There are different embellishments available- a peter pan collar, a deep hem ruffle- but I liked the idea of the upper ruffle & the fact that it would be made out of a busy print suggested that it would not be too frou frou for me.  (Much like Flossie’s)

Despite this being a relatively easy make, I made a few basic errors.  The notches are less identifiable than I am used to – they are a bit smaller & stick out, not in from the pattern edges- you need to look out for them & you’ll be OK.  I was a little less vigilant & ended up sewing the wrong seams of panels together more than once!  Tssk!


But saying that, it still came together nice & quickly, a lovely weekend project, dreaming of being able to wear it in *summer weather* was making me feel all excited, although nothing is predictable when it comes to the weather….

derby (3)

I made the effort to remove one of the needles on my overlocker to do a lovely rolled hem on the edge of the frill, rather than turn a narrow hem.  Oh I know, it is not a lot of effort, taking one of the needles out, it’s all in the head sometimes.  And so worth it – what a lovely frilled edge.

Looking at the pattern’s image I am not sure I got the belt I was expecting- mine is narrow, perhaps half the width it should be!  Not sure what happened there!

derby (6)

The only other adjustment I made was to the upper side seams – the armhole at the front gaped a little, so I took a small triangle adjustment out of the front only, keeping the back seam the same.  It’s taken away the little gape.

Hmm, not so sure the strap placement is right?!!

Hmm, not so sure the strap placement is right?!!

If you come to make this yourself I would be aware of the length.  I used the hem allowance given – 2cm perhaps? and it is just a tad shorter than I was expecting.  Not really a problem for me as it is all about the sundress- but I am 5’3″ so it could come up quite a bit shorter if you are taller than me.

I have been able to wear it twice already since I made it (hurrah!!!!! for sunny weather) & it really does fulfill my requirements of a sundress: cool (mustn’t be too close fitting- plenty of air circulation), strappy & pretty with a tan 😉  But you will not catch me ever wearing it a la tent….the belt stays!


And meet Froggess- virtual sister of Heather’s constant companion, Froggie.  She is super cute & has some amazing expressions & abilities.  My neighbours have  made over 100 so far to raise money for charity.  Last weekend I gave them a couple of bags of scraps large enough for them to make another thousand (hahahha, maybe not that many, but they will be busy & it certainly gave me a good reason to get rid of some favorite remnants).

Now it’s Friday, & I took a day off work for sun!  The weather report was just too good to pass by an opportunity for some sunbathing- in my retro lime green bikini.  And until I hit the lawn, whilst I could be wearing the Derby sundress, the tomato shorts are on!  (In fact, I’m wearing the same outfit, Signe halter top as well.  )

Barrie Boy Cut Briefs !

Just a quick one and a chance to see my underneathies!

I love trying out new underwear patterns and sometimes making smalls is just the job for a satisfying journey into practicality with a little experimentation thrown in.


Why experimentation? Well despite increasing the success rate (ie wearable) of my hand made pants, I still feel unable to predict the success of each fresh pair I cut out to sew. Maybe that is because I tend to use fabrics in my stash and dig out ‘any old’ stretch elastic I have in my strecth elastic stash. The result has created some baggy saggies that feel a bit mismatched, and also some brighty tighties that are just plain uncomfortable but only a waste of the hour I spent making them.

The back

The back

My favorite pants pattern up until Barrie has been the Rosy Lady shorts by Cloth Habit. They are free! And the success rate is highest for me with this pattern & I understand the odds better matching elastic & fabric with this style. But then along came Barrie Boy Cut briefs, from Kitschy Koo.

Barrie briefs

Barries are shorts too, designed to hug underneath those buns, & not cut across cellulite thus resulting in a far less likely incidence of the dreaded VPL. The pattern has two options for rise, but I have made low rise. What’s really different about Barrie is that they do not use any form of elastic but are constructed using fabric bands – much as binding off a neckline. Therefore if you are a little nervous of applying stretch elastic or FoE (Fold Over Elastic) these are the pants for you – entry level pants. ?Trainer pants? Er, that might give the wrong impression, but they are easy to make!  I made mine all on my overlocker.

barrie briefs 2015 collection

These are all the pairs of Barrie briefs I have made since originally being asked to test them months ago now. And they are amazingly comfortable. I think you could use stretch elastic instead of the bands if you wanted to – in fact I will try that one day, but for now, I have just been enjoying whipping up a portfolio of these – not quite one for every day of the week, but nearly!

And you don’t have to make them so vibrant, but there was something very inspiring about this pattern &  in the company of other testers who also use Amanda’s most awesome fabrics (I mean superhero cat pants anyone??)  that made me want to deploy some of my favorite tshirt scraps into undies!


Tutorial: Sewing a headband using jersey

I have been promising this for a while, but it was so wrapped up in all the marathon excitement I wonder if anyone even remembered?  Here is the headband.  A nice little weekend project?

Jersey Headband


Can you see that it doesn’t use elastic and is just made out of a single piece of jersey.  It can be scrunched up on your head to be as wide or as folded up as you need it to be- to keep the sun off your head, to keep pesky short haircuts under control and hopefully longer styles too (not that I would know about that).

This is me wearing it….it matches my top 😉 I needed it to be wide enough to keep my hair from poking out like a crazy person.  (Ironic)

What you need:

A piece of jersey fabric with some stretch that can wrap around your head where a headband would sit.  The fabric needs to have enough recovery so that your headband will stretch to stay on your head snugly but will easily return to its original size and not sag  once stretched!

Mine is about 46cm x 18cm.  You need to experiment to get a snug fit.  I guess you could try measuring your head & deducting 15% to get the long measurement but I have not tested this to know if it is a good idea!  Low tech method –  I wrapped the fabric around my head & stretched it a bit, holding the place I thought the seam joining the ends was needed with my fingers.  And then marked this with a pin before laying the fabric out flat & preparing my seam.

Headband 1

Sewing the tube to fit snugly around my head- you might need to make a few seams to get the fit right.

So prepare your seam by folding your fabric in half right sides together so that the shorter sides are together & sew where you think the seam needs to be.  Use a short zig zag stitch, an overlock stitch or your serger.

And then try on for size.  I had to sew another seam to make the tube of fabric small enough so that it felt a good snug fit like you would expect of your headband.

headband 2

Finishing the edges with my overlocker

Next finish the long now tubular edges of your headband with an overlocker or a zig zag stitch.  You might decide you don’t need to do this, maybe your jersey isn’t looking messy & jerseys don’t fray afterall, but as I have an overlocker it makes the edges look nice & neat.

headband 3

Darning in the ends

Darn the ends in if you have used an overlocker/ serger.

Next you are going to sew with a regular machine using the zig zag stitch to make pleats in the underneath of your headband so that the pleats reduce the fabric and makes it a lot more wearable underneath the back of your head.

You will be making three pleats with the centre back seam running at right angles down the middle of the pleats ( & the back of your head.)  Each line of stitching is 16cm long and parallel to each other.


Three pleats sewn with a zig zag stitch make the headband narrower at the back

To do this …

First of all fold the headband in half, right sides together, centre back seam on top &  with the long edges matching.  Pin to secure.  Your stitching line will start 8 cm before the centre back seam and finish 8 cm beyond it and will be 1.5cm (or 5/8″) away from the folded edge.    Mark your start & finish points & start your zig zag seamed pleat.  Make sure you back tack at the start & the finish to ensure the seams do not unravel.


headband 4

Sewing the first pleat. The pin marks my finish point.

Now it’s time to make the next pleat.  I measured 3cm from the edge to make the fold for the next pleat, pinning to secure, and measuring the start and finish marks at 8cm either side of the centre back seam.

headband 5

Pinning the next pleat- on all these pleats it’s nice to match the centre back seam line through the layers with a pin.

Sew this with a zig zag stitch with a seam 1.5cm  from the folded edge.

headband 6

Sewing the side pleats

Do the same for the other side pleat.  And voila!  Nearly there.

headband 8

Admire your handiwork

It’s a good idea to control those side pleats underneath so that they lie flat while you wear it & don’t try to poke out .   Fold each pleat towards the centre & pin.  Topstitch over the folded pleat using a zig zag, right sides up, close to the seam.

headband 9

Top stitching the side pleats with a zig zag

You’re done!

headband 10


Wear it well, wear it happy!

headband 11


u badger


Elephants +Vintage Shirtdress = delight of the highest level

Oh I couldn’t think of anykind of title for this blog post, so forgive the arithmetic!

shirtdress 1

I gave you fair warning in a recent blog post that I was sewing up a cracker didn’t I.  That I had bought the latest dress pattern from Sew Over It – the Vintage Shirtdress almost as soon as it was published?  And look what fabric I had reposing in one of my fabric drawers, just waiting for *the right* dress to come along.  I think I found it, don’t you?  I bought this fabric a few years ago from Ditto fabrics, but it is available in other places too.  Ditto just has pink elephants at the moment (I’d forgotten I’d made a Colette Violet blouse out of this too!) , I even saw the red elephants (such as I had made my Simplicity Lisette Traveler dress out of) last month when I went to Truro Fabrics– in the shop, not online.   This fabric is a crispish cotton, almost a poplin, if I had to describe the drape, but I’m not sure if that’s officially correct.  When cutting it out, I did try my hardest to align the elephants along the horizontal & I think it’s just about worked.  This time the elephants were not too off kilter with the grainline, unlike my red Lisette traveler.

shirtdress 2

I launched into the Vintage Shirtdress for a weekend’s sewing.  i know I am lucky in that I have the kind of existence where I have weekends that are completely my own to do with as I wish, & quite often I finish my chores on Saturday morning & then it’s an afternoon of guilt-free sewing.  Saturday evening might involve a bit of cooking but then once Sunday comes around I get up early for a run in the country with my running buddies & might have the whole of Sunday afternoon to finish what I started on Saturday!  The trance is broken later on Sunday afternoons as I’ll emerge out of my badger burrow (officially ‘sett’) & catch up with family.  Come the sunshine though, the garden competes with the sewing machines…but that’s another story.

shirtdress 3

So we’ve talked about the fabric, what about the pattern?

Well I have seen this dress on Sew Over It’s classes for a while now & coveted from afar.

shirtdress 5


I love shirtdresses, and this has sleeveless (my most fave) & a longer sleeved warmer version (hmm very appealing!).

shirtdress 4

I have made a few shirt dresses already.  You could call the Lisette Traveler dress already mentioned one, then there is Vogue 8829, which although I made the bow neck, actually is a shirt dress too, the Hot Patterns iconic Shirtdress (a knit), an early shirtdress in swimmers’ fabric, my happy denim shirtdress, my swoon gingham vintage shirtdress, Edith too and I am sure i have more patterns not yet made up.

shirtdress 6

So you see I feel great love towards the shirtdress- no zip, nipped in, shaped  waist, open collar – perfect for summer especially without sleeves, potential button showcase.  So why Sew Over It’s Vintage Shirtdress?  Surely I have enough to choose from?  Well, it’s all in the details isn’t it.  I have sewn a few Sew Over It patterns now & they fit me brilliantly and the patterns come together really well, with instructions to match.  But the styling folks!  Its named “Vintage” not without cause- it screams retro loveliness with its rounded collar & gathered yoke.  The skirt is a a generous A line & the bodice & skirt darts are the open kind that are actually better described as pleats- no darts with pointy ends but flattering pleats at the waist.  So lovely to sew.  And if you have a fabric with a design that you’d rather not break up with dart lines ….well this is the bodice for you, as there are pleats, in case you didn’t catch that, and no bust darts.

shirtdress 7

Speaking of sewing then, this is unsurprisingly a great project.  What’s the hardest part of sewing a shirtdress?  The collar I think, you might say differently (eg if you hate buttonholes!  But then there are only 8….).  Yes, the collar & attaching the collar to the neck edge can often be fiddly with differences in ease around the neck edge & the length of collar & facing to make fit into that curved area.  Sometimes I have made shirts/ shirtdresses & the fit requires so much easing that you are supposed to clip curves to enable the collar & facings to fit with a lot of stretching.  Less fun than the Vintage Shirtdress I can tell you.  Unless you like the Bruce Willis danger factor & the unknown of whether clipping will actually fit without any puckers along the way.

shirtdress 8

The Vintage Shirtdress collar & facing fits very nicely thank you without any undue manipulation, clipping or stretching.  Phew.  A breeze.  And the rounded edges even make turning the collar right side out a joy.  Curved collars are ‘my thing’ as I was told once when I had my colours done & had a style consultation too, that due to my rounded face & chubby cheeks (she put it more diplomatically than that!) that I should look for clothes & accessories that are soft & have rounded corners.  Crisp lines apparently flatter people with angular features.  I mix it up sometimes just . because.  😉  But it’s a good rule of thumb for me- curves & scrunchy bags.

shirtdress 11

I made no adjustments to this pattern for fit.  Looking at how it fits me with the belt you can see that the dress waist is higher than my natural waist.  if you look really closely that is. the ellies kind of disguise it.

The fabric’s crispness & how I pressed the collar made me think that I may have had a little bit of extra room in the bodice front, but luckily I was able to ask Lisa, the designer herself (:-) ) for her view when i first wore it & she thought it looked fine & that not to worry as it is designed to have room in the bodice due to the gathered yoke.  I was also able to ask about a pattern drafting question I had.  The sleeveless bodice has a different cutting line than the sleeved version & I understood why that would work for the armsyce but why the shoulder line needed to be different flummoxed me.  I can enlighten you if you have the same question!  It’s to reduce the shoulder pad effect that the sleeveless bodice would have without the sleeves – ie the shoulder stuck up too much.  It was so much better knowing.

shirtdress 9

The sleeves do not have a facing but are finished with bias binding.  I used some floral binding & hand stitched it.  I finished it with red flower buttons as I know i shall be wearing it with red shoes and a red belt sometimes.

shirtdress 10

The dress is loose fitting so makes a perfect summer dress.  I wore it to the office last week & a chap was the first to say, “Love the elephant dress”! before the hordes crowded me with compliments & begged me for my autograph.  No?  You think I am exaggerating?  OK, guilty.

shirtdress 12

Out of all of the shirtdresses I have made, this has to be my favorite.  It is not too heavy on fabric, I  sewed the 8 & maybe used 2.5m but don’t quote me on it, I had a 3m length to cut from and haven’t measured what’s left.  But the style!  It’s so feminine!  It’s so cute.  I am certain that I will make more (I KNOW it’s something I often say with a pattern I love but then take ages, if ever to follow through on, but this is different.)  The dress is one of those dresses that is at much at home on holiday as in the office.  I’d wear it to a BBQ & to the V&A (oh actually the latter is already achieved 😉  ).

So what fabric next?  Lisa has made a version that is a trompe l’oeil (if that is possible in sewing)- the bodice is made out of broderie anglais (white) & the skirt is made out of a navy, so that it looks like separates.  YUM! I will be investigating my Liberty lawn to see if I bought enough & whether I can eeeek it out, but I think the odds are against me there, only having bought 2m & I wouldn’t want that to be a trompe l’oeil dress, not my Liberty.

And if you fancy making yourself one of these beauties, do so before the 8th July & send an pic to Sew Over It and you could win an overlocker!!!  Woo hoo!!!


Seamwork Oslo cardigan

I finally got round to making up one of the patterns from the very first Seamwork magazine, from Colette Patterns.


Yes, my Dad took these photos!

This is the Oslo cardigan in red. This is some kind of a sweater knit that I had in my stash (cheap from Abakhan once upon a time). It has a loose knit & a degree of cotton in the fibres. But anymore than that I do not know. It appeared to be prone to unravelling more than your usual knit, so I was prepared to treat the cut edges with care & as always  make sure everything was finished with my overlocker.

oslo 2

Anyway, the Oslo is a cosy cardigan, well suited to snuggling when made in something warm, but I made it up in this light weight knit with great swing, as a summer knit. I rushed it in time for my Cornish Whitsun week away as my other red cardigan has suffered from a traumatic visit to the vet’s & the lacerations caused by poor Merlin’s razor sharp claws (& you should have seen the dress & my skin underneath!) have rendered it rather scruffy….

oslo 3

Armed with the knowledge that this wardrobe building pattern is a quick make – this is the premise for the Seamwork patterns- I took to making it up in time for my holiday. And I wasn’t disappointed. It is simple to make – as with most knit tops sleeves are inserted flat, then the side seams & sleeve seams sewn in one operation. The sleeves are finished with cuffs & the cardigan’s hem is stitched before attaching the long collar along the front & neck edges in one long go.

oslo 4

I love the long collar.

oslo 5

Ooops, eyes closed!

Are you interested in a hem sewing tip for loose knits that are more likely to flute out at their edges? I find that using some kind of hemming tape that dissolves after the first wash (like this but mine was something different) is a great way to control the hem edge where you want it, much more thoroughly than pressing it would achieve.

oslo 6

I’ve really enjoyed having a cardigan like this to wear. I haven’t added any fastenings to it, but it is so very arm-huggingly-wrappable – that pose that often gets assumed by the seaside, to keep the sea breeze at bay!

oslo 7

The cuffs are vvveeerrrryyyy long too, so they can be folded to keep your wrists warm, or unfolded to snuggle chilly hands.  This is the pattern I will use for at least one of my purple cardigans– for my Mum.  She wants a cardi with 3/4 or even 1/2 length sleeves.  She’s a layering lady!

And following on from its original week away by the sea, it is a great casual cardi, worn with the ‘more casual’ side of my wardrobe.  At the moment I am sat writing wearing it with a white vest top & my Floral Hudsons.  It’s getting worked!

May 29

Sewing spending spree no.1

I have had a bit of a splurge at the end of last month.  I can’t seem to keep the pennies in my purse, or the extroversion of my credit card & (paypal) in check.  So let’s assuage the guilt with delight in what I’ve gathered & the plans I have for transforming them.  You up for being my confessor?

It started with some new patterns, around payday….  New to me anyway.  I stopped by Sewbox as I really want to make a summer dressing gown (inspired by Amy’s of Sylko Twist) – mine is too short for anything but a heatwave. So I bought the Buchanon by Gather.

And then, because I was there, I added in the Derby dress by Christine Haynes.

Derby Dress

These purchases were made on one of the sunnier days & I was thinking that the Derby dress (belted ruffled neckline version) would be the perfect summer sundress.  And remembering from a couple of summers back, Flossie Teacakes’ gorgeous rendition that totally changed my mind about how I saw its possibilities.  Whilst the Buchanon was a spontaneous purchase, the Derby was completely justified because I really do not have any sundress patterns that are like this – strappy with a flounce, a tie belt with enough flow of fabric around one’s bod in the heat.  And although I bought other fabric to make it with, this daisy viscose from Croftmill, I have actually cut out the fabric above that I bought at the end of last year from the Fabric Godmother – it was a roll end in the sale, but is gorgeous & will make a wonderful sundress.

I also bought some fabric (yay for fabric, we love fabric!) in a real shop. I went to Truro when I was staying in Cornwall in May, a few days after my Sewbox purchases.  We visited the relocated Truro Fabrics. Truro Fabrics is not somewhere to go for a bargain, but it has a lovely range of quality fabrics, haberdashery & also a furnishing fabric department (& craft cottons, wool too).  There were some lovely Joel Dewsbury viscoses which I was drawn to, but at £14.99 per metre, too expensive for the lengths I had in mind to make either of the patterns I had just clicked to buy. So I let my heart lead me, searching out fabric that was new to me & gave me a fuzzy buzz.

I always look at the knits, especially sweater knits & found some purple sweater knit at £9/m (good value I thought) & my Mum was so interested in it that I snapped up two cardigans’ worth – one to be a pressie for my Mum & the other for me.  I can’t find it on the website- sorry!  But it’s yummy.

Purple sweater knit

Then there was this lawn with garden birds on it – this was maybe £12.50 per metre & I got enough to make a summer top.  And I might copy Florence again (if I have bought enough) & either make the Hey June Biscayne blouse or some simple version of the Deer & Doe Datura.  Or a camisole.

Finally I love this Makower print (£12.50 also I think) – with its river scene in horizontal stripes. This will be a full summer skirt.  But I cannot find it on the website either.

Summer scene

There. Since then, I have located some fabric for my Buchanon dressing gown.  I might use the  daisy viscose from Croftmill.  Or I also ordered some of this too, it’s a beautiful grey vintage floral, very much a chiffon & would make a special floaty kind of gown.  Maybe.   But it’s more sheer than I really wanted for a mid length gown over summer PJs.   I am still deciding.  I will of course, report back. I think that the Gather kits looks pretty good value, if you haven’t already bought the pattern. I liked the grey …..but had already bought the pattern….

But then I also (intake of big breath) see I told you I’ve been on a roll…bought another piece of fabric.  I think it was also because I got paid for some casual work I did…..(spot the guilt!)  I could not resist 20% off Liberty at Whitetree Fabrics  using the Vintage Pattern Pledge discount that runs this month.    See sidebar in Kestrel makes.  Only for June though.  If you read this later, sorry!  So I bought some beautiful Tana lawn – Lodden.


This is  the perfect fabric for a dress I ripped out of a magazine at the beginning of the year & will become one of my “high hitters”.  A shirt dress of some description.

Speaking of which.  Yes, you’ve guessed it.  “I just couldn’t help it”  I took advantage of the introductory discount & bought the new Sew Over It pattern – the Vintage Shirt Dress.

And shhh.  I have nearly finished my first one.  Just the buttons to buy….And exactly what i made it out of will remain a bit of a surprise for now.  I have maybe incited enough excitement for one day.

And the detectives amongst you will also realise there is another confession to come.  This time with some interesting tools, gadgets & haberdashery I have also recently bought.

So, have you enjoyed any recent sewing shopping sprees? Is it a symptom of the slow start to the summer?  Help.  How do I stop!??   (No it’s OK, don’t worry about me.  July will be enforced cold turkey as far as purchasing goes.  & Lots of sewing :-)).

snakey legs

Snakeskin leggings!

And torso too!

The fabric people, is the star! This is some pink/purple snakeskin effect lycra from the Fabric Godmother & it totally rocks! (And you can take that whatever way you want, even if you want to bring out that inner rock chick….) But don’t let me go away without mentioning the gold sheen that makes this fabric shine. There is definitely something of the wild side in this print!  And I never thought I would have snakeskin leggings, but I think for running in, I can kind of get away with it.

snakey legs

Josie asked me if I would like to test it for running in, & I was unable to resist. It has recently starred on her blog.  There are three snakeskin lycras currently stocked- this one, a neon explosion (even I thought there was a bit too much dazzle for me!) & black. Now I try to avoid making anything for running out of black, but snakeskin – that could persuade me!


I used the Virginia leggings pattern by Megan Nielson as I wanted as little interference as possible with seams, & the Virginias have just one seam. I made them capri length & added some little cuffs to them, as I had recently made the Seamwork Manila leggings & was interested in taking that detail on to capris to see how that worked. (And the answer?  It’s a nice detail but I didn’t get the sizing quite right & it’s a bit flappy)

3 (2)

So the fabric. The lycra feels lovely to wear. A good weight with no danger of any translucency. However, this is not breathable or wicking fabric, but as long as you are aware of this & choose to wear when you’re not going to overheat, then the fabric works great. I wore them for the first time at a “Glow Run” – a 5km fun run – we were all decorated with neon face paint & glow sticks. Photos show my leggings shining in the light with an eerie glow!

glow run

I have also worn them on some fresh spring runs, of about an hour, & once again, nothing but fun wearing them.   As the weather has warmed I reserve them for non cardio vascular exercise – weight training last week – & they were fine, but a tad on the warm side power walking uphill in the full sun afterwards.  They will really come into their own again in the autumn &  in the winter I can forsee this fabric being quite the way to fox up some country runs!!!

But Josie in her blog talks about using it for swimwear.  It’s certainly a nice light weight & I could imagine that working well.  Now if I have enough spare maybe I could eek out a bikini, but I am not sure if I have because I also made an XYT top out of it.

I think it looks cool?

snakey xyt


Forgive me for not showing you the back, as you can tell this is a spontaneous modelling shot & I’m wearing the wrong underwear- the back looked atrocious with the bra showing….

Now, are you wondering whether I will have the gall to wear them both together?  Do you doubt my taste that much?  I am not even going there!  No!  Not even in the interest of science.  We all know it would look , just, creepy.  All-over-body-suit-snakeskin?  No thank you!!  But apart, they are, like I said foxy.  If foxy is an apt adjective when referring to reptile effect fabric.

And right now I am imagining one of those one-piece costumes with holes cut out of the side.  Not on me though!  My skin tans far too easily to go for such shapes!  But this fabric (in black or purple) would look pretty awesome on the Cote D’Azur, wouldn’t you say?

Now tell me, who would wear the top & leggings together?  I would love to know …..
(The fabric was provided by Fabric Godmother for me to review.  )


The real Betty Dress by Sew Over It

In readiness for the sun making itself known to us, welcome Betty, made out of this lovely lawn – it’s a rich but gentle mid blue with bursts of orange flowers. It is so light as well- like a breath of cotton & consequently hangs beautifully for a dress like this. And you need to know, it is a pleasure to sew.

The dress pattern in question is the Betty dress by Sew Over It & mostly a new one for me, although I have referred to it before, tracing its bodice onto my 80% Betty dress.


Oh my grass needs a cut – behind me it reaches to my shoulders. Checking out the daisies …

It is sleeveless with four-darted bodice & a v back plus the most wonderful circle skirt.


I did make a toile for the bodice, just because I often have to mess around by taking a small wedge out oif the centre front, & needed to check such manoevres for this particular dress bodice. I did remove a small piece at CF & then had to scoop the armholes out a little to make up for it.

So this is a dress with a circle skirt and for this reason you need a good yardage. I thought I had enough & cut out the bodice before laying the rest of the fabric out to cut the skirt – two circle skirt halves only to have that sinking feeling that there was no way on earth the piece of fabric would accommodate this size of skirt cut in two half circles.


Thinking cap of desperation on & I concocted the most cunning plan to join the two circle skirt pieces to make one whole circle, omitting the back seam (for now) & losing a lot of the length of the skirt. That is fine for shorties like me. It worked.


And then I cut the back seam into the skirt, no side seams necessary. I was prepared to manipulate at the waist (because cutting the skirt this way did have an impact at waist level) but when I came to sew it, the skirt waist was easily eased into the bodice since there was a lot of bias going on at the waist of a circle skirt – & I used it to my favour.


So this was in theory the most complicated part of construction. I whizzed the dress up, attaching skirt & bodice to then add the invisible zip. Facings are attached afterwards to enclose zip ends, & the Betty dress method for nice neat facings/ shoulder seams is very neat & well explained. No hand sewing, all performed by machine in two stages.

Look what I failed to do though?

I forgot to stay stitch the neck edges, which is particularly important for the back when it is cut across grain in a diagonal through the fabric. Yuk! I had to unpick the back, stay stitch & reattach the facings.


But it is worth it. Such a pretty dress and actually so much less OTT than I thought a full skirted circle skirt would be to wear. Without having made one before, I had imagined that a circle skirt dress would feel rather ‘special occasion’, but I could dress it up to make it so, but it is very wearable as an every day summer dress. Love it!

Has that ever happened to you?  A pleasant surprise that a dress you imagined was going to be more of an occasion dress turned out to be so much more?

This is my Minerva Blogging Network project for June, all fabric, notions supplied by Minerva Crafts .  if you want to see what you would need to make this, then the fabric and notions are listed together on my project’s Blogger Network page here.  But warning – you might need more than 3m if you are not a shorty like me.


My new teal woolly is the Jenna cardigan!

So you saw that I had a new, unblogged and much worn cardigan last month in Me made May (seen in the third week, here).  Time to reveal the identity (unless you already worked it out for yourselves!) This is my Minerva Blogging Network make from last month that owing to all sorts of pressures I arranged some slippage on my deadline.  But I can now show you all.

You would have seen from my May wearings that I wear cardigans a lot.

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I am in complete envy of Dolly Clackett’s rainbow hoard of cardigans – she can pluck a coordinating cardi for any of her wonderfully colourful dresses & look feminine, stylish & warm. When you get on the “I really want to make all of my own clothes & not buy anything” bug, knitwear is the hardest to handle. It is hard to perfect a cardigan that replicates the fine gauge machine-knitted M&S round neck. I have considered taking up knitting – & have knitted a cardigan, but that took the best part of the year, is expensive on wool & is more of a winter weight. I have tried therefore to sew some cardigans, using Simplicity 2154 & McCalls 6708, to varying degrees of success. But still the finish was distinctly sewn & a bit clumsy. And then there came the Jenna cardigan by Muse patterns.

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My first Jenna cardigan is a huge success & gets worn frequently. I love the gathered yoke detail, the button band & the depth of the neck line. I also love the way that this particular version sits at waist level- that works for me- it’s a length that suits me.

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I remember when making it that it was straight forward & that the instructions comprehensively steered me through any of the areas I might have come a cropper – eg where the neck joins the button band. Therefore, it seemed a good time to make another one.

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I chose this John Kaldor Isabella wool-viscose jersey in teal (you know by now that I love teal!) for last month’s Minerva Blogging network project. It is on the upper price range for jersey but fair to say that the price is standard as far as wool jerseys come– but is definitely yummy quality- & with the wool content I thought it would be ideal as a cardigan.

Sewing this jersey though was a pleasure, from gathering the yokes, to setting the neck band. The button bands are interfaced (as per the pattern’s instructions) & it gives it enough strength & structure – making sewing buttonholes easy.

These buttons were from my stash & I love the bronze with the teal – it works really well as a colour combo I think.

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I don’t have much to say about the construction of the cardigan that I have not already said before.  Except I did narrow the sleeves just a smidgeon plus took some off the length.

It is my favorite cardigan pattern, by far & Kat has really drafted an excellent pattern. Maybe I should try the plain un-yoked version, but I love the yoke detail too much.

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It’s much like my love of red Thai veg curry – it is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most amazing dish I have ever eaten such that every time I go out for Thai I cannot bring myself to experiment as I couldn’t bear to experience anything less perfect!

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And you can bet that as soon as I finished it, it has sprung into action & is worn a lot. It is a more summery colour than my grey Jenna cardigan & is delicious to wear. I love wearing teal with red (& I have a lot of red in my wardrobe). And as our summer hasn’t really started yet, it really is getting a lot of use over dresses, t-shirts & tops ….with trousers or skirts. It’s a new wardrobe basic.

jenna 8

The fabric and thread was supplied by Minerva as part of the Minerva Blogging Network.  You can visit my project on Minerva’s site if you want an easy way to see which fabric was provided to me & thread to match.  That is, if you are a cardigan person :-)


The “I can’t believe it’s not summer skirt”

I made this skirt in April.


Yes, fully thinking that I would have a shiny new skirt for the warmer weather that usually accompanies May.  (see, I even blogged about it in part here, in May!)

Meringue 1

But I wore it for the first proper time, as it is intended without tights yesterday.  And it performed, folks!  A simple cotton A line skirt is almost as summery & essential happy sunny clothing to me as shorts are, & that is high acclaim, because shorts are the business.

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But a simple A line skirt is eminently cool, comfortable & stylish enough fit for beach, a country stroll or for a spot of luncheon in town.

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The fabric is from the Village Haberdashery, but sadly is last season’s stock & sold out.  I snapped it up in one of the great value sales they have. :-)

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I only ordered a metre & managed to eek it out enough to make this skirt, with facings, but the hem is scrimped using some bias.  At one point I noticed there are butterflies on some of the flowers & I couldn’t be sure if I’d got them upside down not not!  But I think I have convinced myself that they are luckily the right way up…

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I used the Colette Handbook’s meringue skirt pattern, but without the scallops.  Even if I had enough to make it with the scallops, when you have such beautiful fabric like this, you’ve got to let it sing, which is why it suits an A line so well with a side zip (invisible – look).

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Nothing more to be said.

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This is a summer essential, it looks great here with my Dolores top, (especially when I don’t look such a scruff bag with its hem not straight & skirt unironed after lounging!)  & part of the day also involved the black vest underneath for catching a bit of sun on my shoulders …bring on the summer (please ….!)