Tag Archives: polka dots

Hello Orla!

Well hello again!  This will mainly be a photographic post showing the Orla top I helped test for Tilly and the Buttons, the latest in the collection.  Have you seen it yet?


It is actually a very useful and cute style – one that I may have dismissed, thinking that it might not be my usual shape, but having made it, I have found that i have been wearing it a lot.

orla top

Everyone needs a matching brolly!

It can be an over the top of your skinnies (or in my case my navy Ultimate trousers is outfit of choice)- or it is very easily tucked in.  It has sleeve options and snowdrop collar/ no collar options too with an exposed zip at the back.

orla top

It’s shaped very nicely with amazing eye poppingly adorable curved French darts, and the shaped hemline seriously covers your buns in a flattering way because of the shaping.  This is not a ‘tunic’ but a shift top & there is I reckon a difference in the silhouette.

orla top

I know there were a few changes made to the final pattern so don’t want to mislead you in anyway, and I will mention them as I go, but there were not any fitting issues for me to speak of.


Look at that curved hemline!

Yes, I actually made a toile!  Out of an old bedsheet as I wasn’t sure whether I needed to do an SBA, and I didn’t in the tester version.  That was very pleasing to me 🙂  so I bought some cotton from my local fabric shop- Bath’s Sewing Studio.  I love it there.  I chose this awesome turquoise polka dot (& also some fabric to make even more floral shirts for the special men in my life for gifts).  I was also able to buy the edgy (for me) metal toothed zip for the exposed zip at the back.

orla top

I have not really sewn exposed zips so this was  a learning for me, & to assuage any feelings of concern, Tilly’s instructions of course guide you through the process smoothly with plenty of glorious technicolour photos.

orla top


Sorry, leaping ahead a bit there.  Yes, fabric and notions chosen, I made the long sleeved collared version as I could smell autumn coming.  There has apparently been a bit more room drafted in the sleeves since I made this tester version.  And the French darts in the front may have been lowered slightly too.

orla top

There is some pretty pleating at the sleeve cap with gathers.

orla top

And the reason that the curved hem sits so nicely is because it has a facing.

orla top

Hmm, I do like this a lot and can imagine it would look lovely in some chiffon (of which I have a few options in my stash – in storage at present) but what about a pretty way to show off some Liberty, or a voile or how about a speckly viscose? Or if I went for a solid  I would be tempted by Swiss dot – lots of colours at the Fabric Godmother…And I have just spied this silk chiffon (rather a treat but love the florals) and think that it could work- without the collar though?  What do you think?  And do you know what?  I might miss out the exposed zip & make it with a smaller back opening  a loop & button at the neck.  That would work for me too.

orla top

Showing the facing at the back of the zip- OK might not be 100% spot on, but as a first attempt it’s pretty tidy.  Oh yes, this deserved a label too 😉

Ultimate pencil skirt or is that ultimate suit?

Hello everyone!  Forgive my excitement …. but have you ever made something that turns out better than you imagined it would?  I know that I have frequently been surprised the opposite way!  Like when I made those Burda trousers for example (which I cannot link to because it was *one of those posts* that got deleted when my laptop got spannered, honest).  Or when my visions are maybe executed too hastily & I am aware of less than polished finishes/ bodges!  BUT today my expectations have exceeded my vision.

Ultimate pencil

When I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the Ultimate Pencil skirt by Sew Over It I had no doubts that it would be a corker.  But as I usually look to my stash first before I hunt for new fabrics I came upon the idea to use the swathes of grey flannel left over from the generous yardages given for my Anise jacket.  My vision developed from here – but this is the important thing- as an incidental shrug: “Oh yeah, it might make a wintry suit”.

Ultimate pencil

Folks.  I give you the wintry suit of AWESOME.  Well I think so anyway, and I am sorry if my lack of humility is on the offensive side, I just can’t help it.  I had no idea these two garments, made independently of each other would look so fantastic as a two-piece.

Ultimate pencil

I have worn this to work.  (Different shoes because I was walking) .  But as a whole, with the Pussy Bow Blouse of course.  And my beret & leather gloves.  If it wasn’t for the beret I’d feel a little Miss Marple.  Maybe I can create that look with my Mimi blouse & brogues.

Ultimate pencil

OK so you understand now just what I think of the end result.  Want to know more about the skirt as it is a new pattern?  Folks it has CURVES drawn in.  You look at the pattern pieces & they are staring at you right under your nose- a curvy high-waisted wiggle skirt- no poker straight side seams here, but curves swinging from hips to hem- which means if you are shortening it, shorten using the lines in the pattern (which I did being of small stature).  Another simple pattern (like the Ultimate trousers) –  a front, a back & a waist facing.  Having no idea about how this would fit, I cut generous seam allowances to allow for some finetuning – especially as my sausage waist might not fit the wriggle aesthetic.  I also decided to line it in the polka dot satin, also left over from my Anise jacket.

ultimate pencil

So in cutting the lining I decided that I wasn’t going to use the facing pieces to cut flannel facings, but instead I cut the full skirt pieces (with a little bit extra width) in the polka dot satin.  I used the facing pieces to cut interfacing and fused this to the skirt pieces- to the flannel.  I don’t like itchy waists do you?  When attaching the lining to the top, I understitched to make sure it wouldn’t peep out unwanted.

ultimate pencil

Hahahaha – typical me – rushing & not getting the t-shirt tucked in nicely!

As with the ultimate trousers, this is a simple skirt to make with clear instructions, but a vavavoom end result.  I found the fitting was not far off.  I really wasn’t sure how much ease would be needed in a skirt this snug & with such thick fabric- so I played along with the pattern & then tried it on as I went along.  If anything I could do with taking a little bit of excess out at the very  top of waist, but it’s eminently passable- my dummy, does not mirror my measurements, so it is better on than what you see on Barb.

Ultimate pencil

This adorable skirt has a kick pleat as well.  I would love to know if there is a tutorial any one can recommend for lining the kick pleat.  I tried.

ultimate pencil

I used Sunni’s excellent tutorial for lining a vent & tried to adapt it, but gave up & made it a skirt with a vent after all.  Love that there is a cheeky pop of lining every now & then!

ultimate pencil

Did I tell you that I love the whole concept of a winter suit?   The whole concept of clicking around the streets with the full ensemble (handbag in the crook of your arm of course) then arriving at the office, removing your coat/jacket for work is rather compelling.


It does of course rely on the point of arrival being centrally heated & toasty enough to survive in just a blouse!  This skirt is super cosy yet as it is lined it feels incredibly luxurious to wear.  The whole outfit looks pretty good with my tan chunky boots as well, & if I was to float the idea of heels & pencil skirts you would already be there.

Ultimate pencil

 Polka dots to the max!

What do you think?  Have you ever had such a serendipitous result?  Do you wear winter suits like this?   Are they practical – or not?  And does anyone have a link to how you would line a vent?  So many questions!!!  Looking forward to hearing what you have to say.  Nearly the weekend everyone- have a great one 🙂

Sew Not Over It! Pussy Bow Blouse and Ultimate Trousers

It has to be said that I have taken a long time to photograph my last pair of Ultimate trousers, despite them being more successful fit-wise than the previous pair.  The fabric was given to me by the resourceful Claire (Sew Incidentally ) many moons back at a Birmingham meet up.  It’s gorgeous quality, a suiting in what I call a mole colour & it is sleek to the touch and has some stretch to it as well.  Not my usual colour, but I just love browns with turquoise.  Another winning combo, but then anything with turquoise goes as far as I’m concerned.

Pussy Bow Blouse

Let’s just check out those Ultimate trousers shall we before we move swiftly on … they caused me no trouble sewing them up, & were a whizz bang pair of Ultimates.  Do they look summery to you?  I was wearing them last week – OK with turquoise shoes – & was told that I looked very summery – in November!

Ultimate trousers

OK that’s enough.  They’re useful, comfy & I love them….let’s get onto the turquoise.  And hey, this is not just any ol’ turquoise.  This is a dream of a fabric, with polka dots and shiny silkiness, from Sew Over It’s Islington‘s remnants bin.  It’s a polyester and feels like a light crepe de chine, but what do I know?  It could be similar to this, but don’t take my word for it.

Just because it was a remnant, doesn’t mean that it was junk, it was a quality 2 metre piece & had my name all over it.  When I visited Sew Over It’s parma violet painted shop, I have to say I reverted to “child in sweet shop”, such was the temptation.  I confess to spending more than I should, but it felt like Monopoly money, & I lost any sense of self control, snapping up the Pussy Bow blouse pattern too (& some fabric for my 1940s tea dress & another jersey remnant too.  Shhh.  Don’t make me feel any more guilty!).

Pussy Bow blouse

Now if you’ve read previous posts you know I have a thing for the Pussy Bow, & had just been inspired by how a Pussy bow blouse, made of the right fabric, can be dressed down with jeans & is not necessarily strictly for the office.  Karen & I got to fondle one of Lisa’s blouses that she had made up as a sample, out of navy georgette or chiffon.

Pussy bow blouse

It was upon spying the details – the rouleaux fastened slimline cuffs for example that we swooned a little, then both caved.

Pussy Bow Blouse

So this fabric and pattern were burning a hole in my consciousness.  If I didn’t make it up soon, I was in danger of becoming an unrequited obsessive, even though it so did not feature in my current sewing plan (which is quite heavily gift oriented at the moment).  So selfish urges were satisfied & I just got on with it.  It’s designed with plenty of ease, & I cut out the 8- according to my bust measurement & went for version 2, the v neck version.  This turned out just fine, fit-wise.

Pussy bow blouse

It must have taken a few hours to make, so my selfish streak did not last too long.  There are no fastenings, you just pop this pop over your head, so that makes the bodice come together nice & quickly.  Before you know it, you are attaching the tie neck.  The pattern instructions were very clear about how to do this if you haven’t done it before.  The fabric being silky (but with a slight crepey feel to it) did not cause me any issues sewing, (I always use a walking foot though) & I took my time sewing the neck facing & cuffs down by hand.  I could have sewn French Seams throughout, but  after having recently made a gent’s shirt & French seamed it to then make faux lapped seams I just couldn’t be bothered.  Lisa’s sample had been overlocked so that convinced me & I do not regret it- my overlocker gives such a nice finish anyway.  There are times when a French Seam feels the right thing to do, & times when you just lose the halo.

Ultimate trousers

Little discussion on this blog post about the Ultimate Trousers, but I am pleased with them

What else do you need to know?  The sleeves have gathers at the cuffs at the top (so cute) & also to ease them into the arm hole – but they are not overly pouffy at the sleeve head – the kind of sleeves I like.

*Something I have added since writing – check out the Pussy Bow blouse Sewalong over at SewOverIt’s blog here.*

Pussy bow blouse

This blouse has been down to London town and worn with jeans to see Morrissey.  Of course I had noodles & managed to splatter soy sauce amongst its polka dots.  But I LOVE it.  I did not feel “Dog Toby” as Jane would say.  It was a wise purchase, one of those investment buys that feels naughty at the time, but that pays dividends in being a firm wardrobe favorite.   And I can see some future blouses in solids using this pattern.

Pussy Bow blouse

I think this could be something I try harder at next year – making investment buys to sew *just right* garments.  And making sure I sew them, & don’t leave them shrouded in tissue paper in my “special” drawer.  What do you think?  More investment pieces?  Maybe that’s how you sew already?  If so, do you have a mantra that could help me shift my fabric buying & sewing behaviour??  I’m interested to know what works for you?!  It’s time for a change!

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!!

Maria Denmark Audrey dress

Well, you’ll be glad to know that I’m back on planet earth now after the emotions that sent me sky high after the last post.  Thank you to each & everyone of you who wrote such kind, wise and supportive words.  If I could hug each & everyone of you, your shoulders would get soggy !!

But sewing it is now.  [Sound klaxon: warning!!!  Maria Denmark superfan alert!!]

audrey dress-001

A dress I made in the summer, just as summer arrived.  I got the timing all wrong and have only started wearing it in September, but folks, it’s a winner.  (Of course it is as you know I l.o.v.e every Maria Denmark pattern I’ve made)

This is the Audrey dress by Maria Denmark.  (available through Craftsy)   It’s a basic knit dress, with some back darts for a bit of shaping, the side seams also shaped.  But this dress skims styishly: it’s not a figure hugger.  Maria has made patterns for a B cup pattern & a C cup – I went B. I used some polka dot jersey I had in my stash (which had been earmarked for a Day to Night Drape Top originally).  Let me tell you this is so easy to wear as well – I’ve worn it with leggings & boots (see pics) for a weekend dress, & last night wore it with red tights, ballet flats, cute cardi & a warm red scarf for a meal out.  It is also the perfect travel dress – it packs into a small roll in your bag, & is so comfy for travelling around in.  And I wouldn’t advise you something I had not tried for myself – it was in my bag for my trip to Newcastle & was worn on the journey home.

audrey dress-002

Making it up is a cinch- being a knit & using my overlocker on nearly all of it (not neckline).  In fact it classes as one of my “quick satisfying makes” done in a few hours and eeekd out of not much fabric as well (this one could possibly have been made up from a metre of 150 cm wide jersey)- score!  It has cuffs & neck in contrast – you could really get creative with colour matching, but I went for plain navy on top of my mass polka dots.

audrey dress-003

Let’s talk about the neck though.  This is not a t-shirt bound neck.  This has another treatment.  It’s not an exposed facing, but a shaped neck piece that is interfaced.  Maria calls them neckline edges.  It was easy enough to sew & I must say I like the shape of the neckline too.  Next time I might make it a bit shorter, but it feels absolutely fine like it is for this one.

audrey dress

Oh my word.  I just want more!  You know this is so easy to wash & wear.  Yesterday I was that desperate to wear it, I took it straight off the dryer & hoped my body heat would get rid of the slight dampness remaining from its latest wash!!

Kwik Sew 3659: it’s a knit with polka dots and lace

Yes I made me another knit dress.  And yes, it’s polka dotted.  And yes, it’s super comfy to wear!  And it really took hardly any time to make.  Bingo!  Many criteria fulfilled there then!  I had been thinking I’d make another cowl neck dress like this one, but with long sleeves for the autumn/ winter.  I could have drafted sleeves to fit this same pattern, but I discovered this Kwik Sew pattern (ordered & speedily dispatched by SewBox)  and was intrigued.  Not only was there a cowl neck dolman sleeved dress, but also a different variety with a cute tie neck (if I’m honest, this was a case where the drawing drew me in with some stripes & tie neck love!).

Click on image to source (SewDirect)

Now I’d had some black polka dot knit fabric in my stash for ages & by cutting this dress with a back seam I was able to eek out enough of the fabric to construct the plain neck version.  Not being sure how this dress would fit, I was satisfied that this would be a toile/ muslin, but hopefully of the wearable kind.

(Sorry, a crazed morning shot – I am clearly trying to look alert, even if I don’t feel it….& look who’s about to come to say hello)

Speedy sewing-R-us.  This involved a centre back seam, a single manoevre from shoulder to arm seams & completing sleeve-side seams in a oner as well.  Super quick sewing- I make that five individual seams (on my overlocker), but if you cut the back properly with enough fabric then that is just four.  I used a strip of self fabric to finish the neck seam- that made 6.  All that was left were the hems.  I did try this on as I sewed it, which clearly slowed proceedings down slightly, but not overly & all in a good cause.

The sleeve of dolman

All the while I was sewing though, I was wondering about the neck & what detail I could use.  I did not have any suitable contrast fabric to make the tie neck.  I certainly did not have enough of the polka dot to make the cowl neck.  You know me, I can do simple, but not without some pretty detail.

I tried a few options on Barbarella.  First of all a lace collar.

Then some gorgeous lace, gifted to me from the generous Debbie at Minnado’s House.  Using this lace I could also add some cuffs (which also helped to lengthen the sleeves since my gorilla arms were not covered sufficiently & I was in danger of cold wrists or pretending that this is another “bracelet” lengthed sleeved garment)

When I compared the two similar looks, it was clear that using the gifted pretty lace really was a means to making this dress pretty special.  It was a deal.

I attached the lace by machine & carefully hand sewed the lace together at its joins throughout its depth as if it was a continuous piece of lace with no joining seam.

The last thing I did was to hem using my twin needle.  There was quite a lot of extra length in this dress for me, which I need to remember for next time.

Ha ha ha- had to show this one because it looks like I’ve given birth to a cat!

So, let me tell you there will be a next time – that cowl is haunting me, & I so need to make a tie neck jersey top in stripes with a red tie….like desperately…

While I was at it, I made a quick petticoat to stop that invariable cling that would happen when wearing tights.  I had some stretch lining, or that’s what I bought it as.  It reminded me of electricity-laden nylon of the 70s.  And so I perpetuated that by making it even more trashy by using bile coloured lace.

The true hideousness of that lace is not shown to its full – think of dull pea green, like cooked mushy marrowfat peas & you are close.  The slip works a treat though!

Has anyone else made this pattern before?  Have you enjoyed using it?  What’s the cowl like?!?  Shall I make the top in black/white stripes with a red tie neck?  🙂