Three Amazing things

Do you ever make a project that really doesn’t turn out the way you planned, but you still learn loads and are super pleased with the outcome, despite the garment’s inevitable destination of the charity shop bin? That’s exactly what happened to me with the project I made a week or so ago.


I wanted a floaty, breezy top to go with the Capri trousers I’ve recently made (yet to be blogged, as is half of the current contents of my wardrobe). As a Base for the pattern I used the Silk Woven tee pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book (3rd series book). I’ve already made this pattern once and the only adjustment I needed then for a well fitting garment was to drop the bust darts by 1.5″- a common adjustment for me; not sure if it’s because of my long body or because my ladies have headed south after years of ballooning weight, weight loss, 2 pregnancies and breast feeding.  In order to get the floaty feel I wanted I slashed and spread the sleeve pattern piece to give me a flutter sleeve,  added an inverted box pleat to the centre back and gave it a subtle high-low hem.

Now, the pattern hacks worked just as intended but didn’t give me the garment I envisioned on my head. It doesn’t have as much flare and float as I wanted and the sleeves aren’t fluttery enough and are a strange length. However, I learnt some cool tricks during the construction. Well, not so much learnt as finally put things into practice that I knew existed.

As the fabric I used is soft and floaty I decided to use French seams throughout.  Although I buggered up the shoulder seams, don’t look too closely on the inside; my brain apparently won’t allow me to stitch with wrong sides together. The astounding thing is that I actually set in the sleeves with a French seam too.

Amazing Thing number 1:



Previously when I’ve made garments with French seams that have set-in sleeves I’ve chickened out when it comes to the armscye and just used a plain open seam. This time though I thought that the width added to the sleeve through the flutter sleeve hack might make it a bit easier and I was right. It looks soooooooooooooooo neat on the inside besides the aforementioned shoulder


Amazing thing number 2:

Frixion marker pens. I saw a post on these pens a while ago and immediately put them in my Amazon wish list.  If you haven’t heard of these wonder pens before they are heat erasable. So, if used to transfer pattern markings to fabric the marks then iron off easily in the process of pressing your garment. So cool and so much better than those cruddy air erasable pens- with mine the markings seem to disappear within seconds, making the whole marking process pointless.  I was feeling a bit glum last week so accidentally on purposely hit the buy now button whilst at wotk, along with a japanese girls sewing book.   These pens go on easily and are very visible and clear. They do not fade or rub off or coat your machine with dust (a bugbear of mine when using tailor’s chalk). And then when you’ve stitched your dart, or whatever, with a wave of a warm iron there is no sight of a mark to be seen. They are my new favourite non-sewing intended Sewing gadget.


Amazing Thing number 3:

Last but not least the other fab thing I discovered in this ‘meh’ project was the rolled hem feature on my overlocker. I’ve attempted to use this before but I was too lazy to remove a needle from the machine (the rolled hem feature uses a three thread overlock stitch) and forgot to remove the stitch finger, which resulted in a whole lot of rubbish looking hem. This time I dug my overlocker manual out from the bottom of the craft box in which it resided and set the machine up properly. OMG! How cute is the tiniest hem in the world! And so lazy to complete too- just stick the fabric under machine and put your foot down- my favourite kind of hemming.

So, although this project was a bit of a wadder I enjoyed the things I learnt from it. What about you? Ever made a garment that was a disaster but taught you lots? Please share your stories in the comments below.


Me-made May 2015 Part 2

Well, I made it. Although I sort of cheated on day 31, but more of that later. If your memory is as fleeting as mine I shall remind you that I pledged you wear at least one me-made item every day during the month of May. My unofficial hope was that I would do this with no repeats; or if I did repeat a garment it would be with another previous unworn item.

So here’s the run down from the second half of May.


I had some issues with my collage app this evening and couldn’t figure out getting the numbers on- technology fails me late on a Sunday evening. I’ll just go clockwise from top left.

Spit up and Stilettos Atalie top with Closet Case files Ginger Jeans, Colette Patterns Meringue skirt with RTW t-shirt and cardi, silk tee from the second Great British Sewing Bee book and my daughter wearing leggings and a Burdastyle dress.


Tunic from a Prima magazine and self-drafted leggings. Top right needs a special mention as the skirt is one of my early makes which I made for my father-in-law’s funeral. I wore it on the two year anniversary of his death. Worn with grey Deer and Doe plantain top. Burdastyle Culottes and RTW top and gingham shirtwaist dress from Gertie’s Book for Better Sewing.


Self-drafted sweatshirt skirt and RTW tee, oversized Burdastyle raglan sweatshirt with experimental lace overlays, By Hand London Anna dress and a new make- the wrap dress from Gertie Sews vintage casual.


Burdastyle Palazzo trousers with a Portrait blouse from Gertie’s book for better sewing, Colette patterns Sorbetto top with mini version of easy knit pencil skirt from Gertie Sews vintage casual, Capri trousers from the third Great British Sewing Bee book and a Plantain top and my Ginger jeans again.

I cheated a bit on day 31 (capri trousers) because, although unique me-made remained in my wardrobe, none of them are particularly wearable, mainly due to fitting issues. These sadly need to be pulled out and passed on to better homes. So on day 31 I sewed up the Capri trousers, having been working on the fitting since the previous weekend. Being only 4 pattern pieces they sew up really quickly so I chucked them on and snapped my selfie mid-afternoon. However I quickly took them off again because I haven’t got the fitting quite right and they’re still a bit gapey at the back. I can’t make up my mind whether to unpick the facing and take in the back darts. I may just perfect the fit in the next pair.

Anyway, I didn’t find any massive wardrobe holes. My Burdastyle sweatshirt was made a little while ago to fill the casual lounging around the house hole. My work wardrobe had dresses and co-ordinating separates. I have a few cardis but I’m missing slightly smarter outer layers. With that in mind I have just ordered the Grainline Morris blazer pattern and the Moss mini just because. I’ve been after a stable knit blazer for ages, so I’m excited about my first steps into outer-ish wear!!

My Knight in Adjustable Shining Armour

Once upon a time there was a damsel in distress who was being held captive by the wicked Internal Critic.   Internal Critic punished her for every bit of wonky top-stitching she hastily produced.   He demanded nothing but perfect accuracy in everything the damsel did.   The damsel shrank inside each day as her stitches had a life of their own.   She soon became very friendly with Internal Critic’s archenemies Seam Ripper.

The damsel thought she would never conquer Internal Critic and would be destined for a life of ‘home-ec’ style projects.   Until one day her prayers to the Tailor in the sky were answered and a Knight in adjustable shining armour arrived to save her.   He had come from the Far East via the Amazon and he went by the name Blind Hem Foot.   With his adjustable guide she was able to destroy Internal Critic and create the most beautiful top-stitching in the land.   The garments she produced with the Knight at her side fractured Internal Critic into a thousand pieces and scattered him to the winds.   And she was no longer a damsel in distress; she was Sewcial Warrior.


Do you want to know the serious bit about this make then?


This little top is the Atalie top by the pleasantly named Spit up and Stilettos.   Now, I know there’s been some rumblings regarding copyright infringement and spit up patterns but, to my knowledge, the Atalie top has not been attributed to any other pattern designer so I’m going to go ahead and blog it.   This was a free pattern.   I really don’t want to get into the argument about the morality of this pattern company, but I don’t necessarily want to increase traffic to the site either so if you want a copy of the pattern you’ll just have to go ahead and google it.

The Atalie top is a pop-over blouse with turned up sleeve cuffs, polo style button placket and neckline finished with bias binding.   There’s no bust or waist shaping and it’s quite boxy.   The pattern suggests that it would be ideal for garden work where a loose-fitting, hard-wearing garment is ideal.   It’s cute, but not my usual style.   I’m a curvy lady and rather than smother my curves in fabric I prefer to show them off with more fitted garments.   Otherwise I feel I have no waist and look like a giant sausage.   But, I decided to roll with it and see how it turned out.


For this make I used a printed cotton that I really can’t remember the provenance of.   I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a charity shop find but I can’t remember who gave it to me, think it was a colleague.   Anyway, you may have noticed I usually favour bright jewel colours and I wasn’t sure about this print as it’s so light and I didn’t want it to make me look washed out.   I fell in love with the little blue and pink flowers and the delicate almost egg-shell blue of the ground colour so I decided to step out of my colour comfort zone and go for it.

The pattern calls for a heavy weight canvas or similar and the instructions try to reassure you that it will work well but I wasn’t convinced myself so went with a lighter weight fabric.


The sizing chart on this pattern is really confusing.   The range goes from XS to XL but there are two lots of measurements for each size. How does that work then?   You think they’d put from X” to X” but they don’t.   My bust fits the bigger L measurements but my waist and hips hit the larger XL measurements (very usual for my bust to be two sizes smaller than waist and hips).   As it’s designed to be a loose fit garment I figured a bit of extra ease around the boobage department was no big deal so I cut the XL and didn’t bother with a toile.   I just roughly held the front piece up to my body and decided it looked about right.   I know, really accurate!

The fit’s not bad though.   I think if I make it again I would lengthen it slightly as it feels like an odd length to me.   I was worried about the sleeve width too as I’ve got flying squirrel wings.   My fears were unfounded and there’s plenty of room in the sleeves.   I like the cuff feature too.


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Button plackets!! Eek!   I mainly chose this pattern as this style of button placket is new to me and like to add a new technique to my arsenal with every project.   This is the first step you do, bar stay stitching the neckline, and actually the instructions were ok, although the diagrams leave a lot to be desired.   While we’re talking about stay-stitching, it has you stay stitch at different distances on the front neckline and the back yoke neckline.   The instructions say this is because you trim off the seam allowance later on but I still can’t fathom why they’re at different distances and why they even bothered putting seam allowance on the neckline if they just get you to cut it off later on. Anyway, I was surprisingly successful with the plackets.   I did have to do a tiny bit of hand-stitching on the inside as I hadn’t quite caught the bottom of the left placket when I stitched down the right placket.   Also, the left placket seems to be drafted too long, I had to cut about 5/8” away where it overlapped the neckline.   Although, that conclusion could be due to my inexperience at this technique.   /my new-found best friend, the blind hem foot, helped me get damn near perfect top-stitching.   I can adjust my foot so that the guide is either on the left or the right of the needle, making it really versatile for all sorts of jobs. I was very proud of my nice neat top-stitching.


The shoulder yokes on this are another anomaly that confused me.   The pattern only has you cut one and suggests you interface it if using a lighter weight fabric.   What’s the point of having a lovely yoke if you can’t use it to hide the horrible seam allowances on the inside.   Therefore I completely disregarded that instruction and turned to the instructions from Colette Patterns Negroni shirt, which I made for Tobi a few months ago, to line the yoke using the burrito method (or shirt sausage as I like to call it) and hide all those raw edges.   The extra layer also added some body so the interfacing was unnecessary.

The pattern states that there are 3/8” seam allowances throughout, but halfway through the instructions it starts referring to 5/8” allowances, even on parts where the pattern piece labelled them as 3/8”.   Confusing and inconsistent, I found.   But I did follow the instructions and the fit turned out ok.

I used ½” self fabric bias binding on the neckline.   The pattern calls for 1” but I only have a smaller bias binding maker gadget so I went with that.   I think it maybe looks a little too delicate for the style of the top but oh well, it looks neat because I used my fabby blind hem foot again.


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Not really sure about this make.   I couldn’t decide if it was too casual to wear to work or not but decided to go for it and wore it with a black pencil skirt.   I did get a couple of compliments on it but I can’t make up my mind whether I like it or not.   I was pleased with the finish I achieved though and it’s another technique in the bank.

I don’t think I’d recommend the pattern though for the reasons I’ve mentioned above; inconsistent instructions, confusing sizing, poor diagrams and odd construction decisions. I’ve just read the two reviews on the pattern website and they too comment on the poor instructions and diagrams.   Not just me then.   I might make it again but, to be honest, probably wont.

Project cost

Pattern: Free

Fabric: Free

Notions: already in my stash

Total: zero! That’s right, a completely free project.

See, it is possible to sew on a budget.

What do you guys think of this one?   A hit or a miss?

Ninja Palazzo Pants

I’m a bad blogger.   I’ve got pics all ready to rock and roll but no text typed.   I don’t know about you but when I get home from a stressful days work and it’s already dark outside all I can motivate myself to do is snuggle up in front of the television and drool over Idris Elba in Luther.   I’m not good in the Autumn/Winter anyway and suffer from a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder, so my mood and motivation are even lower in the dark days.

Anyway, there has been something this month that has really kept me motivated, helped me meet loads of new seamstresses and kept me inspired.   It’s #BPSewvember over on Instagram.   If you haven’t seen it, this is an idea that Amanda from Bimple and Pimple came up with.   There is a sewing related theme for each day of the month and the idea is to post pics relating to the theme each day.   As I type we’re on day 20 and amazingly I have kept up and posted a picture each day.   I have also lost at least 50% of my productive working day by browsing that hashtag.   I think I’ve said before that I don’t really have any friends who are into sewing so getting a sneak peak into others sewing lives is a rare treat.   Check it out if you haven’t already, it’s addictive.   Here’s a selection of some of my pictures this months so far.

The Make

So, onto some actual sewing then.   You may recall me saying when I posted my Welt Pocket Tutorial, that I was working on a pair of culottes from a Burdastyle magazine.   Well, the culottes were more of a wearable muslin for the real deal, palazzo Pants.   I used this pattern from burdastyle for this make, although it came from my copy of the magazine rather than the website.   For the wearable muslin I used a cream poly cotton that was in my stash which I believe was given to me by a colleague.   My measurements were slightly larger than the largest pattern in the magazine so I had to grade up the pattern slightly.   I added two inches at the waist and three inches at the hips.   Construction was actually fairly straightforward once I had deciphered the aforementioned welt pocket instructions.   Surprisingly the fly zipper instructions were much clearer than the welt pockets.   This was much first ever fly zipper and I really couldn’t get my head round it until I read Jen’s tutorial over at the Grainline blog.   Thinking of the fly zip as a lapped zipper with an underflappy bit helped me make sense of it all and it came together fairly easily.

Just noticed a hair on the fly on this zip- sorry guys I moult like an Alsatian.

These were intended as a muslin but I was so pleased with the finish I decided to chuck them in the washing machine with some Pillar Box Read Dylon dye to see if I could make them wearable.   They came out somewhat pink but I still quite like them.

I know culottes seem to be all the rage and the moment and Lily Sage & Co has put up some amazing versions here, here and here (she’s even just made her daughter a version here) but I’m just not sure if this style suits me.   It certainly confuses my children as they have an unhealthy obsession with crawling on the floor under my skirts and they cannot work out why it doesn’t work for the culottes as they look so skirt-like.   They are growing on me the more I wear them though.   The fit was so good once I’d made them up that I stuck with the flat pattern adjustments I’d made for the culottes to make up the real deal palazzo pants.

The dreaded welt pockets.


For my palazzo pants I used a navy blue something that I was given by a colleague.   I have no idea what the fabric content of this fabric is but it’s a bit scratchy, like a coarse wool.   I think it’s synthetic though as it didn’t press brilliantly.


For my wearable muslin I had a hard time remembering which direction the arrows for the very wide front pleats pointed so I laid them out towards the centre front as I preferred the shape that this gave the front of the culottes.   However, the pleats are so wide they got a bit in the way of the fly.   So, I double checked the pattern when I made up the trousers and sure enough, they’re meant to be laid the other way.   Doh!   Again, a pretty straightforward make once you have mastered welt pockets and fly zips.

I used a new technique to hem the palazzo pants as I’ve just bought a load of new presser feet for my sewing machine and in amongst these was a blind hem foot.   So, I decided to avoid the inevitable hand sewing and stitch a blind hem on my machine.   This is a bit more visible than it should have been because the thread colour was a little too light for the fabric.   However, I like the finish and it was quick and relatively easy.   The blind hem foot it my new best friend.


Look how wide these trousers are.

I feel like a ninja in these trousers and have pulled a lot of very silly poses in the office while wearing them to work.

I had no problems fitting these trousers whatsoever.   I think it’s because they’re so wide that it compensates for any fitting issues there may have been.   The top I’m wearing with them is another matter though.   It’s my third version of Gertie’s Bow Blouse from her first book “The guide to better sewing”.  So as not to overwhelm you I’ll blog this separately at some point.


I’m not sure about these trousers.   I had visions in my head of looking elegant and sophisticated but think it comes off like a ninja tree-trunk as they fall from my widest part, my hips.   They’ve only been worn to work once and I still may shorten them to make them 3/4 length culotttes.   Particularly as I keep nearly killing myself when going up and down stairs as my feet get tangled in the excessive flappy fabric.


Culotte length:

Fabric: Free

Zip: 69p from a charity shop

Thread, interfacing and buttons: all in my stash

Dylon dye: Approximately £7

Total: £7.69

Palazzo pants length:

Fabric: Free

Zip: £3 approximately

Thread, interfacing and buttons: all in my stash.

Total: £3


By Hand London Anna Dress Number 2

I apologise for the highly unoriginal post title- what can I say? I never started this blog for my writing skills.   The autumn makes are slowly being churned out and I would like to introduce you to the newest member of my handmade family, By Hand London’s Anna dress.

This is my second Anna, the first being the red cotton lawn version I made in the summer.   I had originally attempted to alter the pattern to have a cowl neck at the front.   I used this tutorial from Craftsy to hack the pattern and used a soft red floral twill I had in my stash, acquired through hand-me-downs from someone.   I think it may have been a liberty print as I’m sure I spotted some dunagrees made by So Zo… for her beautiful daughter, Dolores, in the same fabric and she labelled it as Liberty.   Although, having now checked the post again, the floral pattern on mine is very similar but not the same- must be a Liberty rip-off.   Anyway, I sewed up a muslin of my altered bodice, cutting the front bodice piece on the bias to help with the drape.   This was not a success, there just wasn’t enough drape at the front for the cowl to be successful.   I was too desperate for a new dress to faff around hacking the pattern again to get a better drape so opted to just go for the slash neck pattern.

I used this 70’s-esque soft wool (I think) twill which was another charity shop bargain.   I can’t remember how much I got it for and I removed the tags and threw them away when I pre-washed but I know it was probably in the region of £5 and I got at least 6 metres of it.   This Anna took about 2.5 metres and I still have about 3.5 metres left!   I’m thinking of using it to make a button-down shirt for nice snuggly winters.   I did my best on pattern matching and was pretty chuffed with the results, although the waist seam doesn’t quite match up.   The matching was never going to be perfect because of the diagonal seamlines on the gores but all in all it’s not bad at all.

I love the colours in this pattern.   From a distance it just looks black and orange but as you get closer you see the green and purple thrown in there too.   Loverly!


I hate neckline facings as they never seem to want to stay tucked in for me so I opted to use bias binding facing on the neckline.   I’ve fallen in love with this technique recently.   If you’ve never tried it yourself here’s a link to a tutorial.   I used some vintage satin bias binding I had in my stash to do this.

Otherwise, construction was very straightforward and I made no changes from the pattern- I used my overlocker to finish all the seams.   Unlike the last time I made the Anna, I made sure that I hadn’t missed any notches and I kept the pattern pieces pinned to the fabric until the moment I needed them.   Last time I got completely muddled which triangle was for what. Keeping the paper pattern attached meant that I knew immediately which piece I needed and the skirt came together easily.

This was a very quick make.   Tobi left for work at 2pm on the Saturday and I was just cutting out the last skirt pieces.   I finished the hem on Sunday morning while the kids had their breakfast.   Almost instant gratification.


Although I made a muslin for my last Anna, I have noticed that when I wear a slip with it the slip sits approximately an inch lower than the waistline of the bodice. Therefore for this version I lengthened the bodice by and inch so it will sit on my natural waistline. As usual, I graded the pattern from a 16 at the top of the bodice to an 18 at the waist and used size 18 skirt panels. I used my previously altered pattern in which I took some of the excess out at the underarm seams too.

This is definitely my best fitting dress so far and now that the waist is lower the shape of the skirt feels much more natural to me.

Project costs

Pattern: By Hand London list the Anna dress at £14.   I’ve so far used it twice, bringing the cost to £7 per dress.   As per my recent Emery, this cost will go down if I continue to use this pattern

Fabric: £2.50 approximately

Zip: £3.20 from Hobby craft

Notions: from my stash

Total cost £12.75 approximately

I really like this dress and, as it fits well, it feels really flattering.   The fabric is just thick enough to keep me warm on the coler mornings.   All in all, a success.


How’s everyone else’s Autumn/Winter sewing going?

An Autumnal Emery Dress

Believe it or not, I’ve already made a good start on my Autumn Sewing Plans   . I’ve got several warmer weight pieces of fabric in my stash and the first I decided to use is this gorgeous piece which I picked up in a local charity shop for the bargain price of £6 (I got about 5 metres for that!).   It’s a woven fabric with different colours used for the warp and weft threads- pink and purple, woven in a diamond pattern with four coral coloured stripes woven into the border.   I have no idea what the fabric content is but it feels like natural fibres to me.

I wracked my brain to think how to use the border woven design the best, knowing that I wanted to make a dress with this length.   After a lot of Googling and Pinterest gawking I decided to stick with what I know and make my third version of Christine Haynes Emery Dress, (which is now available in PDF format btw).   I decided to have the stripes placed along the bottom of the skirt and around the bottom of the ¾ length sleeves I’d opted for.   In order to do this I had to cut the pieces on the cross grain and I was a bit concerned about how this would affect the fit.   Thankfully it didn’t seem to make a difference and I actually think the fit is better than my two previous Emery’s.

This fabric frayed like buggery and I was finding bits of pink and purple thread all over my house.   Martin, my kids nanny and Tobi’s best friend, was cursing me when I came home from work one day as it had taken him half an hour to hoover the sitting room carpet because of all the threads that had been walked through from the dining room/my sewing space.   This frayiness (I’ve decided that’s a word and I’m sticking to it) caused a bit of concern when I hand stitched the lining down at the waist line as the graded seams wanted to poke themselves out.   But I think I succeeded.

I got as far as construction of the bodice and attaching the skirt when I realised I had no invisible zips around and, being a few days before pay day, I was going to have to wait to complete the dress.   However, I had a good old rummage in my sewing drawers and came across a pink, scalloped zip with flower cut-outs that I won earlier in the year in a bundle from Sew Magazine.

After a quick bit of advice seeking on Instagram I decided the zip went well with the fabric and started working out how to insert the thing.   Most of the tutorials I found for inserting an exposed zip, including this one from Project Runway, have you stitch the zip on the inside and only have the zip teeth showing.   However the feature of this zip is the zip tape so I had to work out a way to stitch the zip to the outside.   I basically used the same method as Project Runway just stitched on the outside.   To cover the bottom of the zip I just turned it under and stitched it down.   However, this left a scratchy bit on the inside at the bottom of the zip so I cut a small rectangle of the fashion fabric, folded it in half and overlocked the edges then stitched it down on the inside of the dress, covering up the scratchy bottom of the zip and slightly untidy seam.   This worked a treat and, although you can see the stiching on the outside, the pink thread I used blends really well and is barely noticeable.

I was concerned about the sleeves on this dress as I’ve used short sleeves on my two previous Emery’s and these were a little snug.   For safety I stitched the sleeve seam with a 3/8” seam allowance to give me a little extra room.   This was eased into the armscye seam.   These were the best set-in sleeves I’ve ever achieved.   They went in perfectly the first time with no puckers and no unpicking.   I was dead chuffed.   The change I’ve made is not having my gathering stitches on the loosest tension, as most books, tutorials instruct you to.   I find the gathers slips about all over the place and it’s difficult to get even and keep that way.   With the tension set a little higher- say on 2 or 3- the increased tension helps keep those gathers where you intend to.   Also, it turned out I could have stuck to the 5/8” seam allowance as there’s plenty of room in the sleeves.

After recently moaning about an RTW dress I have that has a polyester lining, I stupidly lined the bodice with… you guessed it, polyester lining.   But how could I not team this beautiful royal purple colour with my fashion fabric?

My kids got yogurt on the lining while I was stitching it.

The first day I wore it to work my office was so over hot that I felt as though I’d been wrapped in cling film for the day.   However, I’m sure it’ll be nice and cosy when the temperature really plummets.

I absolutely adore this dress.   It’s really the amazing fabric that sings and, as usual, the Emery dress is perfect.

The fit on the back of this looks a bit rubbish but I swear it’s not like that in real life.   I wore this dress to the Knitting and Stitching show with matching purple tights and purple converse all-stars (Tobi’s wedding shoes, we have the same size feet!) and you certainly stand out in a crowd wearing that much purple!

As I’ve been trying to show you all that it is possible to Sew on a Budget, I thought I’d start showing you the cost of my projects:

Sewing Pattern: Christine Haynes Emery Dress= already in my stash and used twice so perhaps £5

Fabric: Charity shop bargain £6

Zip: Free

Lining: Charity shop bargain bought for me by my mother-in-law so zero cost to me

Total= £11 approximately but this cost will go down if I use the Emery dress more


Giveaway Redraw:

Finally, I haven’t heard from Bunty W, whom I drew last week to win the copy of All the Fun of The Fair, so I have redrewn the names and the winner is…………….          Sammy!   Sammy could you please e-mail me at with your postal address so I can arrange to ghet the book posted out to you.

Slinky floral dress

The last two weeks have been pretty exhausting as we moved house on the first week of our holiday, with two children on the first week of the summer holidays and no money to hire a van.   Luckily I have a mum-mobile, a seven seater with a massive boot when all the seats are down.   Most of our stuff was moved in countless car loads with just the main bits of furniture being moved in my sister-in-law’s boyfriend’s van.

We’re all in and unpacked now and the best bit is I get my own sewing space.   Well, it’s also a dining room, kids messy play area and generally ‘other’ room but I do have my machine set up in the corner and all my sewing supplies easily at hand… except my fabric stash which Tobi has relegated to the garage!!!!!   I have sleepless nights thinking about spiders and other creepy crawlies ruining the prescious hoard.

New Sewing Space

So, the first week of my holiday did not involve much sewing and then the start of the second week was taken up with unselfish sewing- you know the thing I said rarely happens round here.   I had two skirt alterations for work colleagues, a slip cover for an outdoor sofa and finally finishing a Getie Shirtwaist dress for my sister-in-law before I was able to do anything for my family and then I had to make new cushion covers to replace very tatty looking covers I’d made from old t-shirts about a year ago.   I used the Fat Quarter pack I won in a competition on Twitter from Sew Magazine.   I’ve been keeping these FQ’s since I won them, hoping I could come up with some ingenious way to turn them into something wearable as they’re so lovely.   But alas, I came up a blank and, seeing the first of the Fat Quarter challenges completed at Oonaballoona’s blog, I can see it’s no mean feat using FQ’s in garment making.   But we’re all pretty pleased with the results and at £6 for four new cushions (just the cost of new cushion pads at £1.50 each) you can’t really go wrong.

I did finally get to my favourite activity though, Selfish Sewing.   I posted recently about the Spring Sewing Swap goodies I received from Sew Actually, organised through Kestrel Makes blog and I decided to tackle the gorgeous floral satin that I melted over when it arrived.   Andrea sent this to me as a challenge as I had applied for Season Three of the Great British Sewing Bee and in season two the first few episodes focused on different types of fabric, silk being one of those.   Although I believe this fabric is polyester rather than silk, I can tell you it was definitely a challenge.

I wanted to let the fabric speak for itself and also not give myself too many headaches so I chose a fairly simple pattern that I had been gifted by a colleague at work.   It was the free ‘easy dress pattern, from May 2014 edition of Prima magazine.   I wasn’t sure about the style on me and thought it might look a little frumpy, so I decided to make up a wearable toile to test the fit and see if it looked any good on me.   I used a poly crinky crepe which I scored in a charity shop a while ago- I got about 5 metres of it and have already made a maxi skirt and had a good half metre left once I’d cut out the tunic length.   I wish I could remember which size I cut but I know that I had to grade to the size above from the waist down, which is usual for me due to my pear shaped frame.   I think it was a medium top half and large from the waist down.

The toile was very quick to sew up.   I substituted the elastic channel the pattern calls for for shirring.   I thought it would look a bit odd with a rectangle topstitched just under my boobs and lower back and shirring worked well as a more attractive alternative.   The pattern also directs you to use bias binding as a facing but I really liked the colour combination between the purple binding I had in my stash and the fabric so I bound the edges instead, including the hem.   This version must have only taken me about an hour and a half to make and I was proud of myself that I didn’t need to look at the instructions at all- Sewing level up 🙂

The construction of the final dress was not so straightforward.   This fabric is very very slippery and was impossible to keep on grain when cutting out but I did the best I could and neatened up my edges after cutting the main pieces.   Andrea had warned me that sharp pins would be required and had sent me a new box of pins to help.   Sadly I still had a few snags in the fabric and, due to the printed nature of this satin, it left little white pull lines- you may be able to spot one on the hem picture below.   It’s hardly noticeable though and I’ve realised since I’ve been sewing that I always notice the imperfections so much more easily than anyone else.

For once I actually considered construction before I launched myself at my sewing machine and chose to use french seams throughout, except the armholes which I was too nervous about and so used a plain seam, trimmed the seam allowance down by half and used a narrow zig-zag stitch for the edges.   In hindsight I’m glad that I made this decision because I made a complete boob inserting the sleeves because the fabric is so slippery.   I ended up with sleeves that were far too tight and looked like I was going to hulk out of them at any moment.   I also thought the length of the sleeve looked a bit strange and frumpish with such lovely delicate fabric.   Therefore my solution was to go at the sleeves with a pair of scissors and turn them into cap sleeves.   As unpicking this fabric can also cause trauma to the weave I chose to make the alteration without removing the sleeves.   I measured down three inches from the shoulder point and drew a line with a hope and a prayer that I could get them matching on both sides.   I then trimmed the lower sleeve away at the underarm seam line and across the newly marked sleeve line, also trimming off the majority of the seam allowance in the under-arm portion of the armhole.   I then used satin bias binding that I had in my stash from my grandmother (who I never knew to sew so I have no idea why she had so much sewing equipment and haberdashery) to face the new armhole and sleeve edge.   The sleeves are slightly uneven but I like the new look and think it suits the fabric better.

Hemming was another trauma.   Due to my inability to keep the fabric on grain whilst cutting, my original hem line was very very uneven.   I don’t have a dress form so I begged Tobi to help me with marking an even hem line.   He was annoyed after the first three pins as he quickly discovered my frustrations with fabric that just doesn’t want to sit still.   I then cut off the excess fabric as straight as I could ready for hemming.   I had intended to make a hand-rolled hem but my first stitch, picking up just one or two threads, pulled out the threads and made a horrible snag.   I quickly abdandoned that idea and decided to do it on the machine.   I rolled over the hem edge approximately 1/8″ to the wrong side and stitched close to the edge and then repeated the process, giving me a nice narrow hem.   Horribly horribly uneven, but a hem none-the-less.


Neckline Bias Facing

Teeny tiny machine rolled hem

Despite all my griping about this fabric, it feels divine to wear (apart from the static which makes it cling to my legs but is easily resolved by wearing a slip underneath) and it got the Tobi seal of approval when he realised how touchable it is.   It felt like an accomplishment to complete it too, despite the frustrations along the way.

I have since pinned some tutorials on my Pinterest Sewing tutorials board giving hints and tips for sewing with slippery fabrics.   Have any of you got any hints and tips to add?   Any slippery fabric disasters or triumphs?