Tag Archives: Love at First Stitch

This is a Clemence skirt

Such a simple skirt, the Clemence from Love at First Stitch.  In theory I’ve already plenty of almost-Clemences under my belt since it is essentially a gathered skirt with a waistband & side seam pockets.   But being part of the Love at First Stitch programme for developing confidence in your sewing skills, a skirt like the Clemence skirt was bound to feature as a good way to learn gathering, mastering waistbands & side seam pockets as well as putting in a zip.

clemence skirt

However, whilst I have made plenty of almost-Clemences in my time, this is the first with the personality of Clemence, owed to that ultra wide waistband.  That is what makes Clemence stand apart from the usual gathered skirt, & that is the feature that makes my skirt a true Clemence.  And I used the pocket pattern piece, because why not, when it is there for you?  But the rest of the pattern is defined by measurements & cutting the right sized rectangles for a front & two backs, which I didn’t follow.

clemence skirtUnplanned to be out of focus – but I like it- sort of matches the weather

I was lazy & just maximised the pieces I could get out of the available fabric, which I have to say is glorious, isn’t it?  It was so kindly given to me by Hannah from Sinbad & Sailor & I reckon it’s silk.  So lush does it hang & swing & feel to the touch.  I know, I know, I should do a burn test to find out for real, but would knowing if it was silk or not make a difference to my love of this skirt?  You know the answer to that.

clemence skirt

I do not have much to say about this as the photos tell it all.  It’s fun & swirly, girly & with its polka dots has oodles of personality to add to that deep high waistband.  It’s another of those winning pieces that can be a work skirt or a weekend skirt.

You don’t have to look too closely to see that I took these photos & left the back zip open!  Doh!

clemence skirt

One error of judgement – the pockets are set a bit too low.  Left to my own devices, when not following pattern notches I always seem to get pocket placement either too high or too low.  That is my blind spot.  I can move them at some point.  But no point in being too explicit about that – take my word for it, they are pretty lowslung.

clemence skirt

I made this before Ozzy Blackbeard posted about the links she had found for sewing french seams with a zip (although I used a regular lapped zip)  and also with French seams with side seam pockets.  Wished I’d even considered looking that up as I do prefer French seams for fabric like this.  I just overlocked all my seam finishes.


That said, this was an unbelievably quick make & you have seen it appear previously as part of my Brick Lane/ St Martin’s photo shoot last month.

Clemence and Mimi

But I kept this one back for now – with a Mimi blouse too.  Double polka dots.  Double Tilly.  Have you made any Clemences?  Are you also a fan of the skirt’s personality & the waistband?

It’s Mimi!

Meet my new best friend: a certain chiffon polka dotted rick rack embellished Chelsea collared gathered yoked cutie. Yes this is Mimi from Love at First Stitch by Tilly and the Buttons.

mimi blouse

I can remember first spying this pattern as I leafed through the pages, and it popped out at me. Hmmm. Yokes and gathers are certainly a winning formula, as I love the blousey effects of billowing bodices. I wasn’t sure if the deeper collar would suit me, but everyone else who has made a Mimi looks so awesome in it, I had little fear that I would be the only person on this earth that would look total pants with the v neck collar.


Making it up just took time for me to get through sewing *other stuff*. I seemed to have a summer of sewing dresses ( there may still be one or two I have yet to show you, I kid you not). But with the onset of autumn it’s time for the rise of separates again. It was time to raid my stash for a rather nice chiffon (bought locally aaages ago) that had been getting far too comfortable just waiting for me to get round to deciding its fate. White with red dots, a polyester chiffon, something that would fall into that part of my ideal wardrobe- a blouse that needs minimum care, and maybe even no ironing.


(btw if anything I could add just a tad to the upper bust, I realised that after making, because of course I didn’t make a toile, too eager!
Now when I sew chiffon I tend to sew French seams as it’s a nice neat way to keep all the edges prone to fraying out of sight and safe and sound. This was going to be my approach for making this Mimi blouse- use French seams everywhere: yokes, side seams and sleeves. The collar is attached with a facing so all those edges are also nicely obscured and very safe as well.

mimi blouse

But I did come across a small conundrum. I had decided upon French seams, yes. I had also decided upon a rick rack embellished yoke, as is one of my little design preferences, using it like piping but with one half showing in its tiny scallopy awesomeness.


I had to pause to work out how to sew a French seam with piping ( or in this case rick rack) inserted into it. How would it work? Did I have to do anything differently?

mimi  blouse
The answer pure and simple is ‘no’. Using the same process of using rick rack like piping in this little tutorial, you can apply it to French seams too. If you need more detail follow the link above, but in essence this is what you do:
*Baste the rick rack to the seam line on the right side of the garment, so that the middle of the rick rack is sitting on top of the seam line.
*Then with wrong sides together sew the first part of your French seam. Trim the seam allowance, press and turn and press so that the right sides are together.
*Pin the last part of your French seam and sew with the basting from the rick rack on top, using it as a stitching guide. Press. And voila!

Does that make sense to you or have I just confused you even more?

Mimi (3)

As for Mimi I did enjoy making it ( why do I feel as if I should attribute it as a ‘her’?)
There are some lovely design details, as well as the gathered yoke and the fetching Chelsea collar. I particularly love the pleated sleeve cuffs, but struggled to complete this step with my usual marking approach of using just a few pins.

mimi (10)

I found success came to me when I traced the fold lines using dressmakers carbon paper and a tracing wheel. But they are so worth not being lazy – don’t use pins- go straight to carbon!  That is if you are open to being influenced at all.


So why do I love Mimi so much? Ok so I love the fabric and the rick rack, it really is one of my fave combos. However, as I mentioned earlier, the gathered blousey ness that allows untucked styling with jeans. ( or ultimate trousers!) brings a retro girl next door look that’s so easy to wear. Yet tucked in, there is still heaps of cuteness with the gathered blousey ness taking on a mini Mimi billow over the top of a waspi belt looking professional but with vintage references. The Mimi blouse can be worn to work with a pencil skirt or a circle skirt and look smart, or it can be worn with capris, jeans to a miniskirt and be totally at home lounging around reading coffee shop newspapers. To sum up that whole paragraph with just two words: vintagey versatile. And it’s totally the right time of the year to be cracking out those short sleeves – pop a cardi over the top to keep the chill out, and then lose it as the temps rise. And no. Ironing is not actually required. I seem to have escaped. This surely seals its enduring fate as an item that will continue to be chosen for the next while until the temps really do get too low. I am just so tempted to make another …………….


Oh and please bear with me on the photos….I am trying out my new to me whizzy grown up camera and now have a remote for the first time ever. I might be a bit over the top on photos used! Sorrrrrry!!

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!


Brigitte Scarf: How do you wear yours?

I’m so excited about Tilly’s online “Love at First Stitch” party that I’ve been getting ready.

I’ve made my Brigitte scarf & being someone who loves some scarf action have to give it a resounding thumbs up.  I mean I’ve made one scarf before (when I say “made” we’re talking in the loosest sense – ie using my overlocker to roll the hems of a wonderful piece of silk.)  But I had never thought to make anything more – & it’s so simple & incredibly effective.  All of the instructions can be found on Tilly’s blog – get making – see….there are so many ways to wear it …

Brigitte ScarfBut that’s not all ….what about ….

Brigitte ScarfAnd if we’re dressing up …it’s time for Tara Buster …

Brigitte scarfSeriously guys (yes- please take me seriously in a pink wig) – making this scarf took next to no time.  I used some poly satin so it cost next to nothing too – but scarves can be a little piece of luxury – I’m even considering making some out of specially purchased silk.  The options seem endless ….

So, how do you wear yours?

Loco for Coco

Let’s start on a high – me & Mama Coco herself – the inspirational Tilly.

Coco and tilly(I have not cropped this picture – I mean the turquoise wall has its own fame, right?!)   So –  Stripes & spots looking good together- (no not “goof” as my typing is trying malevolently to force me to write)   I am hoping that this marks the Coco highpoint because you see I need to come down from the Coco high or is it more an affliction I’ve got?  Is it contagious?

Tell me people- when you are fabric shopping do you assess fabric against the “could this be a Coco top” criteria?  Do you also have a developing “Coco stash”.

(Introducing evidence reference A1)

coco stashIt is not without cause that Coco has become the panacea to losing one’s sewing mojo.  Not that that has been a problem for me.  However, Coco tempts me with its style & simplicity of construction for “those times when I want a relaxing stylish sew”.  I tell you it is a most reassuring thought to know that I have *a number* of suitable lengths of fabric should I feel the urge and the odd free hour to make it.  My first Coco top has been a stalwart outfit addition for my weekends,and  Merino rocks the Coco.  But where could I go next but with a ponte?

So enter Coco #2.  I made this using some ponte from Plushaddict.  Sucker that I am I saw it on Twitter when my Coco mania was reaching peak purchase potential.  I also bought the black/ cream double knit  (for a nautical dress oh yes.  It is destined for a seaside photo shoot when it is made & the time comes).  But I digress, blame it on fou-de-Coco.  Onto the Coco in hand … still in absolute first throes of love with the funnel neck I just had to make another version.


I made up as designed, but felt something was missing – in an artistic kind of artist/  gardeners’ smockette- a pocket kanga would want to jump into.  So I cut one freehand & sewed it on, with my trying- ever-so-hard-to-please-me coverstitch machine (our relationship is improving thanks to an intervention from Melissa when she came to stay.  But coverstitch & me – we have a way to go before we are best buds)

kangaroo pockt coco

The kangaroo pocket settled almost nicely (coverstitching needed a bit of rescuing & a fair amount of bar tacking by my regular trusty dependable-knight-in-shining-armour machine at key stress points).  However, I may have located the pocket a bit high & darned if I was going to take it all off.  A bit of playing around in the mirror later & the design decision was taken to shorten Coco to become hip length.  It works.  But now you know the truth.  Some of my design decisions are reactive due to not thinking things through….and there you were thinking that everything was part of the plan …

inside coco

So it’s been a wonderful weekend & evening staple- lounging in style.  So come the Coco party *for real* when I was in such fantastic company for the final of the Great British Sewing Bee, it was the obvious choice.

How many Cocos in this sewing selfie?

It was such a lovely evening watching the final with Coco-wearing sewing blogging pals ( me, Katie, Rachel, Janene, Tilly, Jane, Alana) .  Katie has written up the evening (plus two amazing Cocos), capturing the atmosphere if you are interested in even more.   I was thrilled to get a picture for this blog post with Tilly  – against *the” turquoise wall.

coco tilly and me

So, while we were there we were lucky enough to have a preview of Tilly’s book: Love at First Stitch & if you pop along to Tilly’s blog you will see that she has shared one of the projects from her blog- the sweet Brigitte scarf– for a book launch blogosphere -party on Thursday 8th May.  I’m in, are you?