Rare Unselfish Sewing: Walden Patterns by Colette Negroni shirt

Sorry, there was a delay in getting this posted as I forgot my Flickr details so couldn’t get to the pictures.   All sorted now and I’ve written them done, so shouldn’t forget again.


Well, after a year of being asked to make something for my husband, I have finally relented. I present to you my husband, Tobi, in his Negroni shirt by Walden from Colette patterns. Ta Da!

This has been my most complex make so far and I’m really pleased with the result. Tobi decided that he wanted a long-sleeved shirt as he likes to be able to roll the sleeves up. This meant I had to tackle techniques I’d not done before- sleeve plackets and cuffs. I was really nervous about the sleeve plackets but actually they stitched up like a dream. The Colette instructions are really clear. To get nice sharp edges on the folds and point I used a piece of thin card to press the fabric over. This worked a treat. The cuffs aren’t perfect as the sleeve seam line poked out at the edge of the cuff but it’s not too noticeable.
Another tricky area was easing in the collar into the neckline seam but I used a pin easing technique that I spotted on the Fehr Trade blog  and took my time with the stitching making sure the yoke on the underside was smooth as I went along. This resulted in my best collar so far with absolutely zero puckers or pleats.

I made a slight boo boo with attaching the sleeves as I was a bit confused by the instructions. The sleeves and side seams of the Negroni are stitched with a flat-felled seam for strength and neatness. The instructions for attaching the sleeve have you press the sleeve head seam under by ¼” and then instruct you to match the edges of the sleeve head to the armscye and stitch a ¾” seam allowance. I slightly misinterpreted the instructions and matched the raw edges instead of the raw edge of the armscye to the folded edge of the sleeve head. This meant that I ended up with approximately a 1/8” flat felled seam for attaching the sleeve. It was very fiddly but I did it and it didn’t look awful so I chose not to unpick. Peter Lappin of Male Pattern Boldness has an amazing Negroni sew-along series which made me realise my mistake.
Fit-wise, my husband has a classic masculine shape- he’s like an upside-down triangle. I cut the large size for the top of the shirt and graded to a medium at the waist. The sleeves are slightly long, although I checked the finished garment measurements before I made and the length of the sleeve seemed perfect from these) and a little too full so for the next one (which will probably be completed in another years time) I will take some of the length off and may use the medium sleeve pattern and armscye. Tobi loves the fit as he usually has to buy large shirts which swamp him at the waist and make him look a lot bigger than he actually is. Maybe I should have intentionally ballsed it up for him so he doesn’t ask me to make him stuff anymore and I can stick to my selfish sewing.

Attaching the inner back yoke- is it a shirt or a draught excluder?

Pattern matching accross back, yoke and collar
Have any of you made a men’s shirt?   I really enjoyed this make and had one of those “Did I really make that?” moments when it was finally finished.   Tobi’s had loads of compliments on it from colleagues and I know he wants me to make more.

Chemery Dress

Cherry Emery, cherry Emery, cherry Emery- Chemery!!!   This is my second Emery Dress from Christine Haynes and my second made from an upcycled duvet cover.   Whilst doing my usual scour of the local charity shops I spotted this big bold cherry print single duvet hanging from the “everything £1″ rail.   How could I resist at £1?

I made no adjustments to this Emery other than those already made for my Dr. Who dress.

However, the duvet was a bit old and subsequently a little too sheer to be decent going out in without some stitching intervention.   I decided to underline the skirt portion and, continuing the theme, I used some remnants of another duvet I used last year to make a different dress.   It had big pink roses on one side, which I made the first dress with, and a white rose printed side.

I love how the roses show through when the light’s just right.   Look at my lazy hemming, overlocked the edges and then turned under and stitched on the machine.  I didn’t really think a duvet was posh enough to justify the painstaking hand stitching I did on my Dr. who dress.

This was my first ever invisible zip insertion and it went in so easily it left me wondering what all the fuss was about (until my second attempt on my Anna dress which took three attempts).   I’m pretty chuffed with it and I didn’t have the head scratching moment I had with the instructions when I used a lapped zip.

After I wore my first duvet dress to work one of my colleagues said she may have her old My Little Pony and Care Bears duvet covers at home if I want them.   Hell yeah, what child of the 80’s wouldn’t want to wear a dress with magical ponies and bears on it!

I really like the Emery dress, although I still need to do a bit of tweaking to the fit, but this dress is perfectly wearable and I’ve overheard a few comments on it as I’ve walked by people in town.   I think I’ll be making more.

Have any of you had amazing charity/thrift shop finds?

By Hand London Anna

A little while I was lucky enough to snag some lovely fabric through Freecycle an I thought I’d share with you my first make from this haul.

As soon as I saw this 100% Cotton lawn I knew I wanted to make an Anna Dress from By Hand London, which was one of the Indie patterns I purchased recently.   The lawn was very sheer and very narrow so, despite having 3.1 metres, I only had enough fabric to make the midi version, which is fine by me as I tend to wear maxi skirts rather than dresses as I find them more versatile and wearable.   The sheerness meant that I needed to consider lining in some way.   I decided to fully line the bodice, rather than using the facings supplied, but I didn’t have enough lawn for this so had to sit patiently and wait for a metre of red cotton poplin to arrive from the lovely people at Minerva Crafts.   After seeking advice on Twitter, I decided I didn’t want to underline the skirt because I may lose some of the lawn’s floatiness, so I decided to make another half slip in a coordinating colour (navy as I have no red jersey or other fabric in my stash) using the tutorial I discovered on Gertie’s blog.   What do you think? Can you see my knickers?

The fitting for this dress was a breeze.   I traced the size 18 for the upper part of the bodice and graded to a 20 at the waist.   After making a quick toile (out of the weirdest, kitchen paper-like fabric) I pinched out about an inch at the underarm seam which removed some of the bagginess I was experiencing at the upper bust.

Now construction is a slightly different issue.   I used the Anna sewalong on the By Hand London site for a guide on how best to fully line the bodice.   This tutorial has you sew the lining and outer shell together at the neckline before the side seams are stitched, therefore before skirt is attached.   This meant it was then a bit tricky when attaching the bodice to the skirt as there was a lot of excess fabric floating around that I didn’t want to get in the way.   I then hand stitched the lining down at the waist seam.   If  I were to make another lined Anna in the future I think I’d use the technique from the Emery construction for neatly hiding the invisible zip in the lining.

Now, A few of the difficulties I encountered were due to my lack of ability to think things through before blindly starting stitching and also not marking pattern pieces or tracing notches correctly.   I’ll  After I did my first couple of seams I thought “I should have used a French seam”.   Being far too lazy to unpick and start again I just ploughed on with plain seams and overlocked seam allowances.   However, I forgot that I’d been sewing with a jersey previously and so the differential feed setting on my overlocker was not set correctly and slightly gathered the seam allowance, making the pieces not sit flatly.   I also neglected to mark the skirt panel pieces as to which bit went where and must have missed a couple of the notches when I traced as I had 6 practically identical triangles to fit together.   I think I got them in the right places.

This was my second ever invisible zip, with the first one going in with no problems whatsoever.   I ended up unpicking this one three times as it just wasn’t going well.   The centre back now also looks a bit puckered, I think because the centre back skirt section is on the bias.   In future I think I’ll use a strip of fusible interfacing along the centre back for reinforcement and stability.

I wasn’t sure about the shape of the skirt on me, I usually have a more defined waistline and I don’t think I own a single A line skirt/dress.   But it’s growing on me and I have worn this dress all weekend, in the lovely hot weather we’re having here in the UK at the moment.

I have so many ideas for variations of this- I love the bodice, kimono sleeves and tucks. So I’m sure you’ll be seeing some more of these pop up soon enough.   Have any of you made an Anna Dress? What are your thoughts on it?

Kestrel Makes Spring Sewing Swap Goodies

Well, my spring sewing swap parcel arrived yesterday and, after a really stressful few days, I nearly hugged the post woman when I was she had the parcel of joy for me.   My swap partner was Andrea Winterflood, Sew Actually on Facebook.   She doesn’t yet have a blog, but I know she’s planning on launching one soon, so keep your eyes open.   Andrea runs local sewing classes and enjoys upcycling.

Now, the budget was £15 or local equivalent and I think Andrea has somehow stepped into a time where money was worth at least twice what it is now, because I received an amazing parcel.

I’ve been eyeing up this Simplicity pattern since Gertie made a few versions this time last year.   Have a look here, here and a post on the scalloped collar option here.   Andrea has great instincts on patterns for others.   I’m sure I’ll have fun adding to my summer wardrobe with this beauty.   I’ve wanted to try self-covered buttons for ages so I was pleased when I saw those.   The brown ribbon has a cute tape measure markings on it.

Andrea read on my blog that I applied for series three of the Great British sewing Bee and so she thought she’d set me a challenge and I received this interesting piece of leather which, I’ll admit now, I currently have no idea what to do with, but I’m sure something will come to me.   Maybe now isn’t the bet time to disclose that I had a telephone interview for the Sewing Bee after I submitted my application but sadly they never got back to me after that, so you wont be seeing me on next year’s series.   I love the flip-flop fabric, again not sure how it’s going to be used, but I’m sure it will be.

I nearly swooned when I saw this delicious floral print.   It’s bloody gorgeous and, on Twitter, I told Andrea that I was considering eloping with it, I love it so much.   Now, the question is, what do I make with it??   I’ve got about two metres and I want something that shows off the wonderful drape and fluidity of the fabric.   I’ve browsed through my old Burda Style mags from the last year and haven’t spotted anything quite right yet, but I’ll keep looking.   If you’ve got any suggestions give me a holler in the comments.

Now I think poor Andrea got the shitty end of the stick in this sewing swap, as I tend to raid charity shops etc. for all of my sewing finds, so I’m feeling a tad guilty now my beautiful package has arrived.    Here’s a big thank you to Andrea and to Kerry at Kestrel Makes for organising this brilliant swap.   I’ve loved it, and getting to know new people in the Sewing Community.   He any of you taken part in the swap?   Did you get any gems?

Garden Party Dress: rescued and hacked

A little while ago I had a minor meltdown whilst trying to get a free dress pattern, the Garden Party Dress by Honig Design, to fit me without making my bossom reminiscent of Madonna’s Jean Paul Gaultier cone bra.


I went through a million toiles and in the end gave up. I think there were several problems with the pattern for me and it just didn’t work in the fabric I had chosen (Medium weight 100% Cotton which may have been intended as curtain or upholstery material from Big Nana’s stash). However, I had already cut the skirt pieces for the dress and I loved the fabric so much I wanted to somehow turn this into a wearable garment.
Behold the pleated button-down skirt.


I used the front skirt panel for the back panel and used this tutorial to add a button placket onto the front skirt piece as I fancied a button-down skirt a la Tilly and the Buttons. I then drafted a curved waistband to add on to the skirt pieces and used the pocket pieces from the Emery dress to add pockets to the dress, because who doesn’t want a pocket. I used a constrasting yellow fabric for the pocket bag as I thought it brought out the yellow leaf pattern design and really popped.


I used my overlocker on all the seam allowances. I think my choice of thread for the overlocking on the pocket pieces was a bit dubious as I chose yellow and orange. When I was snuggling up on the sofa with my husband and the pocket bag peeked out from under the skirt he thought I had a duster under my skirt.

This fabric has so much body in it the pleats give it a great, full shape and it could practically stand up on its own. It’s a fun little skirt and I had great fun teaming it up with a purple t-shirt and my yellow scarf neck cardi. Tobi thought this colour combo was a bit over the top but I love colour and I think it works. What do you think?


I loved this skirt so much I immediately decided to make another and remembered that I had about 1.5metres of cream and navy polkadot viscose/rayon in my stash leftover from my portrait blouse and I thought it would make a great drapey version of this skirt. Now, this fabric was super shifty and I could not get the polka dots lined up and keep them that way when attempting to cut on the fold so I decided to cut on the flat and traced a mirror of the back pattern piece to tape onto the existing piece, thus making the shape of the unfolded piece required. I used my rotary cutter and mat but this was still a bitch to cut and, if you look at the line of polka dots going down the front placket, you can see that this went way off straight.


I think I would have committed hari kari if I tried to get it straight any longer so I figured that it would do. I made absolutely no attempt to pattern match because this fabric was driving me crazy.
Construction was exactly the same as the skirt above but the finished result looks quite different due to the different body and drape in the fabrics.

This fabric is a little sheer and so I decided to make a half-slip to go underneath it. I used this tutorial fromGertie’s blog for better sewing and I had some lovely soft jersey, in a light green, in my stash that I bought in a charity shop. There was about 2 metres at the bargain price of £2.50. I also had some stretch lace in the stash which came from Big Nana. I had a bit of trouble in the construction of this- I overlocked the side seams and attached the elastic (from stash) with no massive problems, although Gertie’s tutorial says a good steam after attaching the elastic should shrink it back but, I think because this elastic is a bit old, it didn’t want to fully contract back. The problems really came when attaching the lace. No matter what tension I put my machine on I was still getting massive loops of thread on the wrong side and I didn’t notice until I sewn one side of the lace down already. I rethreaded the machine and it resolved the problem, thankfully. This slip is so comfy to wear due to the stretch fabric and I can go out in confidence that I wont lose my dignity (if I ever had any) if standing with the sun behind me or if there’s an errant gust of wind.


I’m really happy with these projects. It was my best attempt at drafting a waistband and it fits really well. The only thing I’d do differently next time is to do my buttonholes from top to bottom rather than left to right as it pulls open a little at the waist.
Have any of you ever managed to rescue a project that was heading for disaster?

Kestrel Makes Spring Sewing Swap

I am taking part in the Spring Sewing Swap, organised over at Kestrel makes. The idea is that all those who sign up are paired up and are tasked with gathering together a sewing parcel of love to send to their swap partner. The budget is roughly £15 and it is suggested that with this you get 3-5 items for your partner.
I’ve been paired up with Andrea Winterflood- Sew Incidentallyand on twitter (@summerdrought17) for the swap. Andrea has a love of upcycling which has got my little noggin whirring for ideas for the swap. I’ve got a few bits and bobs lined up and I hope to post this out to her asap.
I’m super excited to receive my parcel so watch this space and I’ll share with you what I get. It’s so exciting getting happy post.

I know you all love seeing outfit posts and I promise I have several projects up my sleeve at the moment. It’s just sewing time that’s a struggle at the mo but I hope to have some finished garments ready to share ASAP.

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Me Made May 2014- Round up


Well, we have reached the end of Me Made May 2014.    I apologise for the infrequency of my Instagram/Twitter pics- I have a hectic life and many hats to wear and unfortunately the ‘Blogger’ hat sometimes slips.  You may remember my pledge  for my very first Me Made May was to wear homemade garments on at last four days a week.   My modest pledge was mainly motivated by the fact that, at the time, I only had 27 wearable garments in my hand-crafted wardrobe.   However, I excelled myself.   See below a collage of my different outfits during the month.

As I’ve only been sewing for just over a year and had a limited wardrobe to choose from I knew I’d find gaps to fill with handmade lovelies.   I was really pleased, though, to only have one or two days in the whole month when I didn’t wear something I’d made.   Here’s what I learnt from this month.

  • Trousers: For many years I’ve pretty much lived in RTW trousers or jeans.   There is a great lack of handmade trousers I can call on.   I’ve got the royal blue burda pair and an un-blogged wide leg pair hacked from the Kasia pattern, again from Burda.   Both of these projects weren’t entirely succussful and I don’t even wear the Kasia ones as they were hacked in the early days of my sewing and aren’t especially comfortable or well-drafted.   However, I have discovered that I like wearing skirts and dresses.   I’ve been a bit of a tom boy most of my life and so girliness is a bit alien to me but I like it.   I don’t think I can go completely without trousers though, so I need to get me making some more.


  • T-Shirts: Most outfits I like to wear a comfy, slim fit t-shirt.   My work dress code is business casual and so a lovely handmade skirt with a t-shirt is everyday wear for me.   I have a few Plantain t-shirts but they’re long or 3/4 length sleeves so I need some more short sleeved tees for summer.   Luckily for me, it just so happens that I’ve recently been a ‘print at home’ tester for an Independent pattern company soon to release a tee pattern, so I’m going to be making up a few of those.


  • Cardi’s/Coverups: With the British weather you need layers to be able to whip off quickly during the five minutes of sun before you have to throw it back on when the clouds come over again.   I have one handmade scarf neck cardi which I love but it’s massive and yellow, and when I wear it with jeans I’ve been informed I look like a minion from Despicable Me.   I would like some cropped cardigans to go with the high-waisted items I own, for the vintage look.   But I’m a rubbish knitter, I had to give up when a problem with my neck was making my hands go numb whilst I knit.   So I shall have to investigate other options.   Maybe expand my drafting skills.

Having said all of that the next two projects I have lined up for myself are dresses but there is a t-shirt in amongst the mix too. How about you guys?   What did you learn this Me Made May?   I’ll leave you with my favourite selfie pic from this year’s selection.   Really shows my love of colour.