Signe top

Signe halter neck tops : holiday supreme plus Giveaway winner

As soon as Maria released the Signe dress & top  I snapped it up, even though I was actually in Darwen at the Minerva meet up. This could not wait until I got home- I used the hotel wifi and placed my order!!

Signe halter neck top
I do not have any halter neck tops, never being a fan of strapless bras, it has not been a clothing choice I have ever made. But being less busty than days of old and of an age where I care less, I whooped when I saw this design – a knit dress ( maxi or knee length ) or top with a halter neck and elasticated slightly at the back. I’d seen that it was a guaranteed quick make and did not need any convincing.

Signe halter topThese beach photos are all taken in Cornwall- divine conditions!  I even swam in the sea without wet suit!

Once another decision was made- that of booking a long weekend in sun soaked Spain, the requirement for one or two halter tops was also established. I raided my stash and found a plain white ( with some strange knobbly seersucker- like stripes to it) which would be useful and would be good paired with a lot of things, including my tomato shorts.

Signe halter top

I also found some fun floral print jersey that I had bought reduced from Clothkits with some money for my birthday which had huge potential as a kooky sun top.

Signe halter top


Weird garden fact- those gladioli are “weeds” – I never planted them – they just showed up…

Speedy cutting out and then it was not long before I was sewing. The top has a lined upper bodice which not only facilitates the creation of the all in one piece halter straps/ upper bodice but also affords an extra layer should one decide to avoid the strapless bra….the upper back is kept taught by the addition of some elastic, feeling eminently secure. The top really does come together quickly and the dress takes only a little longer, purely due to there being slightly longer side seams!

Signe dress

Yes I also made a knee length halter dress.  In red & white stripes.  I couldn’t resist.   Another holiday essential.   This feels quite the sultry little number, hugging those curves, yet comfy.  I even traveled home in it after the morning sipping coffee by the pool avoiding thoughts of leaving.

Signe halter dress

These halter necks are so comfy!

Signe halter top (3)

And slightly more robust than wearing a cami.

Signe halter top Styling secret – bad hair day = sun hat

They have been getting plenty of wear, even when not on the beach!  I’ve also made a cover-up that looks great with them- extends their use beyond just sun-catching – I’ll show you that soon.

And thank you to everyone who entered the Giveaway for Lisa Lam patterns.  I have great pleasure in announcing the winner – using 

It’s Liza Jane!! I’ll be in touch to get your details so that we can organise you getting your cute patterns, & you can make Jane that playsuit….adorbs.

Feature image

Oonapalooza! Edith blouse meets box pleated skirt in eye bending stripy florals!

“Betty Draper on acid”?  (to quote @angelfishcrafts on IG)

On acidLoL- I have totally played around with the filters of this pic!!  It really is on acid!

It started with the fabric, of course.  How could it not?  The fabric was pulled out with tremendous glee from a rummage bin in Abakhan fabrics, Manchester.  My fondness for visits to this shop & all the loot I have scored over the past few years has been well documented on this blog.  Most of my early visits did not even make it to the shop’s upstairs to the rolls of fabric in the more traditional fabric buying part of the shop, so much was there to investigate in the rummage bins.

edith in white with box pleated skirt
And this delight was too good to put back.  Now I have been on the hunt for some fabric with wide stripes to make a horizontally striped box pleated skirt, but have struggled to source something apparently so simple in two colours.  And I do believe that serendipity often plays a role & the reason I hadn’t found any two-tone wide striped fabric is because if I had, I may have not been so darned sure of what I would make when I encountered this wondrous fabric.

the fabric
Let’s have a tour of the fabric shall we?  Well, it is vibrant, indeed, with a safe navy background but plenty of cerise & wide stripes of varying sizes containing two different flavours of pink vintage roses- one of these on a turquoise stripe.   And in between?  Two different (but similar) stripes of what I feel should be described as scrolly lattice/ tracery type pattern – in pink of course.  Maybe there is a more succinct word?  There is also however what I think is a discordant stripe within it – it’s a gold scrolly stripe on a cream background right through the centre which I think looks out of place with the rest of the pattern.    I hid this stripe in the skirt by taking a canny seam, but I could not avoid it appearing slightly on the blouse back, despite careful pattern placement.

Edith buttons
With self cover buttons

So we’re onto pattern placement next aren’t we?  For the top I used Maria Denmark’s Edith blouse pattern (this is a dress & a blouse in one with grown on sleeves, front & back darts & a cute turn back collar with curves (oh & back shoulder darts too which I like a lot!).  I cut each front out separately anticipating the turquoise stripe being the strongest feature flanking each side of the buttoning up.

edith back

I also gave careful thought about what to centre on the back & as above, could not avoid a small amount of the gold stripe peeking in at one side.  I suppose I could have created a centre back seam…. But that didn’t occur to me at the time!   But I didn’t want to have to include an extra seam hiding the gold stripe in a blouse – I thought it would be a bit too clunky.  The collar was fun to plan -  what part of the pattern could appear on the lapel?  Bearing in mind the turquoise front, I thought the navy striped roses would make a good contrast, but use a different part of the pattern for the back collar.  I cut each front facing individually to make sure they were in balance.

Edith collar
The skirt was my own invention for box pleats – a straight piece of fabric, with a waistband.  As mentioned above I hid the offending gold coloured stripe then had to play around with which stripes I wanted to fall at the hem/ waist before knowing how deep to cut the skirt.  I needed to know the depth (or length) before I embarked upon setting the box pleats up.  I opted to keep the turquoise stripe at the hem, furthest away from the predominantly turquoise blouse front.

edith and box pleats

With all the navy at the top of the skirt, I did feel that the turquoise stripe would make the best waistband, but wanted the pattern to fall a particular way, with the edge of the stripe on the top of the waistband – ie the centre fold.

edith in white
I followed the instructions to sew the Edith blouse as this was my first.  This is a quick make – no sleeves to insert-  help with the time saving, clearly!  Some interesting design & construction details:  no arm facings or bindings – Maria instructs you to turn the seam allowance (pinked) to the inside, clip & hem.  I overlocked mine once I had clipped them, I didn’t pink)  And the side seams are sewn after the armholes have been hemmed.


I have since made another (in white, shown in the photos) which I did my own thing- I sewed the side seams first then used bias binding to finish the armhole edges.  It’s just my preference & is probably a bit more time-consuming.    Apart from that I love this blouse I have to say.  The styling is delightful!  It is not only harking back to that glorious vintage look with nipped in waist & cute collar, but the capped/ grown on sleeves are sweetly nostalgic also.  I love curved collars and often take the sharp edges off collars I sew, so was really pleased to see that the curves had already been drawn in for me!  So lovely.

oonapalooza 2

I am a huge fan of this type of blouse as I think they can be worn tucked in our out & be dressed up for work or casualified (good word?!) for home with shorts/ jeans even.  I really want to make the dress & have two fabric contenders.  I have already made two of these blouses in a week – there is a high chance that I love the dress so much I make two of those too! ( The dress looks a great summer make – no waistband, but darts to nip in the waist enough to give shape but comfort.  Great for hot sultry days – if we have any more of those coming…)

Edith and box pleats 1
I’ve already written so much about this so far I will save writing about the white blouse for when I have another Edith to show you – whether it is another blouse or a dress!  As I need to give just a bit of info about the skirt.  Not much to say really.  I have discussed how I needed to work out length (for pattern placement) before setting the pleats.  To set the pleats I started in the centre with a box pleat meeting at that point, then every pleat I then made was reflected each side of the centre.  I kept measuring the width of the skirt, knowing what my destination waist measurement needed to be, & finished the pleating in relation to this.  There is just one seam – the centre back.  Which of course means no side seam pockets- so if you wanted pockets, you’d have to incorporate side seams into your design & pleating arrangements.

oonapalooza back

Lengthwise- I felt it could be longer than my usual to balance out the top when it gets worn together – those vertical stripes create the illusion of a long torso which would look even longer with a shorter skirt!

oonapalooza 3

I was always going to make this up as a two piece, once I realised I had far too much fabric for a skirt.  Thank heavens for the sewcialists’ #oonapalooza month as it brought making this combo forward.  As soon as I saw this July  theme, I reckoned this would be something rather colourful, eye bending & joyous.  Oh yes!  Would Oona be happy that I dedicate this outfit to her?  Fingers & eyes crossed…

But then what’s happening on Ada Spragg’s blog?  There has also been a two-piece- set-acular launched & in a strange way, this fits that too! Not quite the chic elegant babe look that it was perhaps initiated with, but hey, it’s a two piece never the less!  And the benefits of a two piece?  Why, you can wear it as separates.  I am really enjoying wearing the skirt with the white Edith blouse for sure.  And it is early days, too early days having only just finished it this week, to have stories to tell about other wearing fun!

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 :-)