Simplicity Star Sewist- the winners

I have been wondering how to write this, but at last worked out how …Remember the Simplicity Star Sewist contest ?

Well the winners were announced at the beginning of this month.  Check out these lovelies!


Using Simplicity 1364 


Sew and Snip – gorgeous fabric choice, but some neat drafting skills to alter the back.

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Highly Commended

Not Sew simple’s beautiful fit & fabric

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and another to admire here with that intricate neckline finish – Moodycatcrafts

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using It’s So Easy 2286 sewing pattern


Not quirky, not kitsch, Just stitch

Seriously, if this lady is like this as a newbie, just what will she be making in the future?!

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Highly Commended:

Living on a shoestring

(not one but two gorgeous entries!)

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Roses and Petticoats got creative with contrast pockets and ribbon to make a really sweet little skirt.

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Oodles of craft got her fabric choices spot on to create such a perfect contrast hem…

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OK, onto the next category…..the one that I entered ….


Using NewLook shift dress 6145


Scruffy Badger!

I know!  Shock!  It is me!  My Necker Island / Elemis Hawaiian two piece dress got me through to the top spot, against some beautiful dresses.  I am so thrilled and have the badge now on the side of my blog.  [Blushing].  Let’s have a look at the others…

Highly Commended

Sewing at Damgate has made the cutest tartan dress, with some beautiful details…button back, v neck.  In fact I am coveting this big time for the Autumn …


Then look at All About the Sew’s awesome version with a bow at the waist and adorable fabric!

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I’ve really enjoyed catching up with the competition, there is a Pinterest board with all the entries on it, go have a look if you fancy some more inspiration!


Fifi summer PJs, aka Boudoir set

Hello my darlings, the word ‘Boudoir’ brings on a different writing style & makes me feel as if I should slow down, & maybe flutter my writing eyelashes at you.  Purrrrrrr….


Here, for your perusal, are two sets of Fifi summer PJs- the latest from Tilly and the Buttons.  On Barbarella I should add, no way will you see modelling shots of these by yours truly.  As mentioned in the last post I was a tester and absolutely loved making summer PJs- the timing was just perfect & let’s just say that I could become addicted, and have been wearing them in constant rotation ever since I snipped the last threads.


A caveat in that these are from the tester patterns and I am not aware of any of the changes that Tilly may have made as a result of feedback.  But they will give you a good idea I hope.  They are obviously made up of a cami style top with french knicker type shorts.  The top has gently  gathered bust cups and uses bias binding to finish much of the top edge and create the straps.  A beautiful detail.  The front is also cut on the bias with the back, princess seamed in three panels.


So I used some fabric I bought from my local fabric shop years ago as a double act – thinking of using the two together ‘at some point’.  The smaller floral design fabric is possibly a little more stiff than the bigger print but just about handles the gathered cups – but I think you want a lovely soft fabric to make these- avoid starchy crafting cotton!!


I made the second pair using a silk/cotton mix that I had also been saving for something small & pretty- underwear or sleepwear, so was very glad to be able to bring it into circulation.


I bought some lace to decorate it and it was quite expensive, but worthy of the adornment it would provide.




Raves about this pattern for me have to be the cups (so pretty!) but also the way the elastic is attached at the top of the shorts- neat !  There is no elastic threading, but a two step zig zag operation which is perhaps one of the reasons why this is classified as an intermediate pattern – requiring a little more sewing experience to make – sewing on the bias, French seams and working with bias binding, but you can bet Tilly provides full & comprehensive instructions if you want to extend your sewing.

I love wearing both of these sets.  I do not ‘lounge’ in them!  But I wear them to bed & am impressed by the way the cups fit around you & almost helps anchor the top to stop it swinging around too much.


And of course they complement my very luxurious dressing gown perfectly …

PS Don’t forget the special offer for this week only to get Bettine and Fifi as a bundle. :-)


Bettine dress

Tilly and the Buttons has released her summer sewing patterns – there is a dress, Bettine, and some summer PJs, Fifi.  I have been involved as a tester for both of these and today I am going to show you the tester version of Bettine.


Laughably it seems as if I chose very similar fabric to the modelled shots on the pattern (NO- Tilly did not think my version was so super ace that she begged to use it.  Hahaha!)

So I had this length of kind-of-chambray-but-with-unknown-polyester-perhaps-content that I bought for something silly like £2 per metre from a shop near Goldhawk road known to Jane and Janene….and when the drawings came out for Bettine, I knew it was a match.


I don’t want to spend too long on sewing chat about Bettine, as Tilly may have changed some elements from the test version you see here- but you need to know that this is a gloriously comfy & easy to sew summer dress.  I think there is something of the “Seasalt” style to it with its Kimono sleeves & blousey bodice & gathered waist.  It would look good with a long sleeved top underneath as a layering dress too.  And I have worn it with dotty leggings on cooler days.


I made the version with pockets just to put the pattern through the testing, & of course I’ve ended up with rather a lovely casual (but practical) dress.


It really is easy to make & wear.  I love the tabbed sleeves and the way that the waist is gathered with elastic.  I have made dresses with a waist elastic or a drawstring that are a pain to mark the position of the elastic/ drawstring casing.  Tilly’s design is genius in that the casing is made by the seam that joins the bodice to the skirt.  Simple!


All in all a successful test, maybe I need a slightly bigger size in my upper chest however, something I would look at next time.  Forgive the slip making itself known at the hem & the creasing – let’s say that if there is polyester in this fabric there is not that much!


This week only you can buy a bundleBettine with Fifi!  Wowser!  I’ll show you my Fifis (if you show me yours….!  No, sorry couldn’t resist) I will show you my Fifis later in the week.


sewing room

I love my sewing room

I have been meaning to show you my sewing room for a while now, but it seems particularly timely as life has suddenly taken on a new whirlwind – as from last weekend I am planning to move.  Gulp.  A mixture of emotions as it is a positive in terms of my future, but I absolutely adore my light, bright house, its west facing garden, my neighbourhood on top of the hill which has a different climate than the city, and also my lovely neighbours.

sewing room

I’m not able to listen to any sad songs – isn’t that funny – it all has to be upbeat & cheerful!  And having just got my sewing room how I want it, I am now having to face the prospect of leaving it.  Wherever I move to will HAVE to be large enough to house my sewing equipment in a space of its own, but I may may never have such an awesome space again.

sewing room

I used to have the loft room as my den, but then I recognised the truth – use the best room for the thing you do the most.  I mean, sewing in a conservatory that looks out on to my garden.  I can watch the birds feeding, the squirrels visiting, the weather in all its glory.  Have you ever experienced a thunder storm inside a glass house?  It’s incredible!  Even hearing the most normal of rainstorms is a primeval experience rather than a cause of depression.

sewing room

The LIGHT from all the glass makes me feel rejuvenated.  It’s such a healing place- both the light & also the activity that goes on there!

sewing room

So the set up in my sewing room allows me to have my sewing machine and overlocker always ready to go.  The Coverstitch machine is almost ready- it used to be over the other side of the ironing board & was just that little too inaccessible  & fifty percent of the time the lazy badger in me found it too much of a hassle…but that was also something to do with the long time we got to value each other – but that’s another story.

sewing room

Check out this sewing machine tidy, made by Emmie, as a Secret Santa gift.  I don’t know what i did before I had this – it’s so useful for keeping all my smaller sewing tools handy & tidy.

My ironing board is perfectly located to the side of my sewing machine- I can swivel my chair to press.  I use the sleeve board a lot, and all my essentials are hung up either on hooks or in cups to the right.  Most of the organisation is from IKEA as well.


The desk is the absolute business for sewing.  t’s from IKEA, but no idea if it is still sold.  (I can’t find it)  It has a glass top with space underneath to put instructions underneath without getting in the way of my sewing.  It rests on trestles with deep shelving- great for books but I am using them for boxes & baskets to keep my projects in as well as my spools of thread.

sewing room

I do share it with Merlin & have had to come to terms with his rotation over ironing board, swivel chair & even the desk as his rest space.  He seems particularly fond of the ironing board when he is wet …..

sewing room

Down the other end of the conservatory I have my dresser filled with sewing books & magazines, and then one of those comfy Poang chairs from IKEA.  I do more than just sew in this heavenly space. :-)

sewing room

There are a couple of downsides.  Far be it for me to ignore those.  First of all it can actually get too hot to sew.  And too bright.  Full sunshine & I have to squint & have had headaches.  So that is why i have a sunhat to hand.  i put it on to avoid heat stroke.  And then the heat means that countless plants bought for the conservatory frazzle.  That’s why I have cacti.  And an artificial plant!  And finally.  The dead.  It becomes a cruel dying place for flies, wasps, bees, mayflies & butterflies.  I try to help them escape, but they do have a tendency to fly high.  And I am short.  But it makes me happy when I can grab a sieve from the kitchen as a makeshift butterfly net & assist a bid for freedom…

sewing room

That’s my old iron that I thought I could keep for ironing interfacing & avoiding messing with my new iron’s soleplate.  But actually what I tend to do is fuse interfacing with the press cloth in between.   There are also GU pots there with buttons…

So anyway, I have been & shall be in that crazy selling house / moving house/ looking for a new house place & will also be back to marathon training again next week.  (The last one for a while!  the end of October 2015 will draw this craziness to a close).  So I can’t predict what the next few months hold in the excitement, but I am already pooped after a full on weekend doing DIY, deep cleaning & all those things associated with selling.  Sewing time will naturally have to reduce, I will of course have sewing to reward myself for keeping the chores under control & my moving plan on target!


The Buchanan dressing gown – very posh- my own slice of luxury

I mentioned before how Amy at Sylkotwist was the influence behind me buying the Buchanan dressing gown pattern by Gather.


Luxury is…a pot of tea on a Saturday morning in the garden *in a flouncy gown*

I had been mooning around wishing I had a better summer dressing gown, one that works for the majority of summer when the morning sun isn’t blazing through the windows & provides enough gentle warmth by wrapping itself around you when you need it, & floating, billowing out behind you when you don’t. Something that is not the fleecy winter dressing gown, but a bit more than my above-the-knee kimono which is pretty good for heatwaves.


Fabric though eluded me. I had a certain aesthetic in mind in terms of quality (plenty of drape essential for ‘flouncing’) but of a pattern that harked back to vintage dressing rooms. It didn’t have to be ‘vintage’ but I knew the kind of colour combination I wanted & the scale of floral. The grey floral I bought from Croftmill is lovely, but is too sheer – it is a chiffon. (Wait until you see what I made out of it instead!)


And then I found myself in the Clapham shop belonging to Sew Over It. Of course there would be something suitable here. The website shows such a fine array of rayon/ viscose that I knew I would be taking my future Buchanan home with me. I almost chose this one. But the fabric I took home is not online by the look of it. You’ll have to go into the shop! A beautiful navy floral. I needed to get a contrast for the collar, cuffs, belt & pocket top & matched a plain navy poly lining in my local fabric shop – being able to make sure it had the quality I was looking for to work well with the floral viscose.



So I cut it up pretty quickly after purchase as this is something I had an immediate need for. I added 30 cm to the length as this pattern usually hovers around the knee perhaps?


This is my first Gather pattern, and I liked the envelope for starters – it is robust & has a gusset so that your pattern pieces, never the same once you have to refold them, easily fit back in.

Hanging loop

Hanging loop

I had a feeling it would be nice to make it up & wasn’t wrong.

Lovely instructions But it was the order of the construction that I liked. You start by getting all the ‘bits ‘ ready- sewing the belt & hanging loops, prepping the pocket, sewing the cuffs onto the sleeves.


And then you make the gown, with everything ready waiting for you.


French seams

– I varied slightly by using French seams throughout as the fabric is fray-heavy- both types.

I loved the way the belt loops are caught in the side seams.


Finishing the hem of the front contrast

I also finished the hem of the front contrast collar as you would the front facing of a shirt rather than turn it up as part of the hem.


Securing the facings (front & cuffs) can be done with the machine & some nice top stitching but because my thread was not a brilliant match I hand sewed them all – it took 2.5 hours, but a great thing to keep my hands busy whilst sitting in front of a film.

The only thing I would change- is the pocket placement- my fault- the pattern comes with options for both patch pockets and side seam pockets.  Well I chose patch pockets, because of the contrast top, but only wanted one.  And even though I thought I’d got it on the right front, it turned out that it’s the left!


I love the luxury of wearing this gown though….the satin contrast feels amazing next to my neck, and the gown itself is so light & yes, it can billow (not that there was a breeze when the photos were taken).


And that bow!  How can you not look at a scrumptious satin bow & not think “posh”?

And I always store away ideas for sewing gifts & making up a Buchanan dressing gown for someone special is now also on my list.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

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I love the long collar.

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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.

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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!

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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!