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I admit it up front: I’m using this post as an entry to (try and) win two metres of the glorious Cranford Liberty Fabric from Leah at Sewbox. I have in mind a wonderful project for it… If I win, all will be revealed!

If you haven’t already checked out Sewbox, I advise you to immediately. I once compared the service I got there as like having a dealer, but legal. And for fabric. I have purchased gorgeous fabrics from there, some lovely pattern packs, buttons and other bits and bobs. I can’t rate it highly enough!

Right, I’m off to bed! I may be back later this week with a quick blog post about some sewing projects. Or I may not…I’ll see how I feel!


I have to admit, I love getting the chance to review things and so I jumped at the chance at Fiona from The Sewing Directory’s offer to review four of the D&C How to Sew series. What really drew me in was the fact they would be accessible on my iPhone which would give me a chance to read them on my daily commute to work. “But surely, you could read them in paper form anyway?”, you might ask. All well and good, but I have never been one of those people who can, for example, knit in public, and so I find parading my hobbies around in front of people in that way to be overbearing [edit: overbearing’s not the right word here – I think I probably just mean “a bit embarrassing”] . I know this is a weird foible of mine, and I’m also fairly sure that no one really gives a hoot but me, but there you have it: that’s how I feel about it.

Anyway, as I was saying…

I found it really nice to be able to sit and read a short book (or four) on my favourite hobby with discretion (I can see why people with Kindles and the like enjoy them so much) and, even though these little books are aimed more at beginners, I found them informative and interesting. Obviously, any one interested in taking up sewing as a hobby would go on to larger and more in-depth reads but these are great for new starters.

How to Sew: Basics

In the same way that I love S.E.W, I loved this book from the start. To start, It has a nice short section which gives a good introduction to the different types of fabric, thread, embellishments and techniques. How to Sew: Basics also gives a list of recommended tools and notions for beginners. From experience (and from not having done this myself) When you’re starting out from scratch and you have no idea of what you’ll need (or even if you have no idea of what that thing you bought is for), it’s always a good idea to get a guide from somewhere. This book is is a good starting point, although I would also recommend getting additional information from somewhere else, as a back-up.

I have to say, I was also impressed with the mini tutorials towards the end of the book (and in all the subsequent books) although I thought the accompanying pictures could have had a little more contrast in the stitching to make the techniques more obvious. This was especially hard to see on the little screen on my phone, but became much clearer on a PC monitor.

How to Sew: Applique

I hold my hands up to this: I don’t do much appliqué. I think this is bceause I have to relearn the blanket stitch every time I do it – it’s just one of those techniques I can’t get into my head – and it just drives me up the wall. Maybe this handy little book can help me by just being there, instead of my having to go and find the book I normally use every single time.

Having said that, I did make a rather lovely quilt with some lovely butterfly appliqué on it a while back, and this would have been handy at the time. You see, I didn’t know that if I was using bondaweb for the butterflies then I would have to do some extra stitching to hold them in place (I do now!).

As with the previous “Basics” book, I really liked the tutorial element of this book. Whilst I would maybe not make a denim jacket exactly like this for myself, the same principles applied to a little girl’s (or boy’s) jacket could turn out to be really cute. In fact, it was nice to see that the ideas presented in this book as tutorials (and, again, in all the “HOw to Sew” series of books) were different to what you might see in other similarly targeted books. All the techniques outlined were well-defined and succinct, and I was impressed by the inclusion of a set of supplies for both the UK and for the US. And not just the bog standard suppliers you see everywhere else!

How to Sew: Machine Sewing.

Machine sewing is the foundation on which most of my skills have been learned and so I was really looking forward to this book. I was really happy to see all the groundwork covered: from feet to the stitches themselves and when to use them. I think, for a lot of people who are starting off, machining is actually quite scary and so how to Sew: Machine Sewing really takes the edge and mystique off it a little bit. Again, and this is a bugbear with most of the books, I wish the diagrams were in a little higher contrast. Dark red against dark blue doesn’t really stand out enough for me and especially not, as before, on a little screen. However, it’s not impossible to see so I can’t gripe too much!

One thing I do have to say though (and this might just be me…) but why would you get someone to use fabric glue to stick a ribbon to the front of a bag you’ve just made up on a sewing machine. isn’t that cheating?! Or at least defeating the purpose of teaching someone how to use a sewing machine?!

Again, all the projects at the end were suitable for beginners and well laid out.

How to Sew: Patchwork

Patchwork scares me. I think it’s because every time I attempt it, I fail and I end up with mismatched corners, different size squares: all sorts really. (I also really like the cute pigs on the cover! Is that sad?)

My boyfriend’s mother is an accomplished quilter and I had the privilege of her showing me how to cut properly using a rotary cutter and mat. There are a few things she taught me which I found invaluable which don’t really come through in the first section – always cut at a 45 degree angle, always have two square and straight ends to ensure your cut is right etc – and a little additional information would have been useful. A little about chain piecing to save time and fabric would also have been nice, although this was hinted at in one of the diagrams. However, I understand that this is a basics introduction book, and that you can’t have everything!

All the basics are covered really and, on the whole, it’s a good basic introduction to patchwork. I think perhaps there should have been more discussion around the process of quilting itself, however, as that can often be one of the most difficult parts (especially for a beginner).

Besides, I still really love that little pig pattern – look at their wee faces…

What I like about this set of books was how they were unassuming and pleasant to read. They assumed little to no prior knowledge (which is an advantage, given the target audience!) and were short and sweet. Although you couldn’t make up a library from these, they are definitely a good beginners purchase (or gift) and I would recommend them to anyone starting out. And may I also say how useful it is to have a different set of suppliers per book – you could build a whole arsenal up that way!

I’ve been yammering on about making this coat on this blog for some time now. Because it was my first “advanced” pattern, I really wanted to take my time over it and do it right.

I decided to make it in a black linen with a yellow and white polka dot lining as I thought it would be light enough for summer wear. Turns out I was wrong! Of course, the linen was heavier than I had anticipated and, with the added weight of the lining, it became a good autumn weight coat. Nevertheless, because the summers here may as well be autumn I have already had some wear out of it.

In general, as with all Colette Patterns, I found the pattern easy enough to follow and clearly laid out. At times, I got frustrated with it but that’s my own impatience and inexperience and not the pattern’s fault.

As this was a jacket, I didn’t make a full bust adjustment for it. When I look at it now I figure I probably should have adjusted a little as it tends to gape a little. (I’m not entirely sure how I would go about that though, so that’s something I need to look into) This made the placement of the buttons a little more difficult as well. Ultimately, I decided to put two buttons on as it looked a little better on me – and held it’s shape better – than just having the one.

One thing I did find about the coat was that, when I was wearing it I noticed the pockets tended to hang a little below the hemline when there was something that was just a little weighty in them. Next time, I think somehow attaching the pockets to either the lining to to the hem might be in order, if only to keep them a little better in the shape I’d like them! On the subject of pockets as well, I tried topstitching alongside one edge of the left pocket, but found the stitching tended to warp the shape of it. All other edges were topstitched and this gave it a lovely finished look.

I also attached the lower edges of the sleeve lining to the lower edges of the sleeves, drawing the sleeves back up inside themselves nicely. Originally I had wanted to self hem the sleeves with the lining, creating a nice neat line underneath. However, at around this time my brain started to hurt and I just wanted to get the coat finished. I eventually attached the lining to the edges of the outer sleeve, automatically pulling the sleeve up inside and then I covered the exposed seam with a little bias binding. This I stitched in two parallel lines which I think looks really nice on the outside!

All in all though, I love this pattern and I’m really pleased with the way it worked out. It looks lovely over a nice fitted skirt and makes me feel great when I wear it. I will definitely make it again for winter, possibly with longer sleeves and in a longer length. I also happen to think that with a smaller (or no?) collar this could look lovely as a coat dress for winter.

Anyway, here it is!

Overlockers scare the living daylights out of me. Quite probably it’s because I’ve never used one, I’ve never seen anyone use one and I have no idea how to. With a sewing machine you pretty much know where you’re at. Almost everyone has used a sewing machine at some point in their life – be it at home, at school or elsewhere. How many people can put their hands up to say they’ve used an overlocker? Certainly not me.

With that in mind, guess what I’m getting next week? That’s right…

On the Me-Made-June front, I’m doing alright so far. I’ve not really had time to put up pictures of everything I’ve done yet as I’m still frantically trying to get stuff finished. Mostly, I have to hem things, and I just really hate hemming. Like, really hate it. Like I really hate doing the dishes. I am looking to the Flickr Me-Made-May group for inspiration though and it’s really great to see other people out there doing the same thing (and doing it better, I might add!). My efforts on the Me-Made-June front were pushed back by the call up for CPD I had from the RPSGB. I therefore spent hours labouring over a dry form instead of a hot iron.

I am also about to embark on making my first pair of trousers. I found a lovely pattern on Burdastyle for some wide leg trousers with hip yoke pockets.

I’m making them in black linen so they’ll match my Lady Grey coat if I ever need to go somewhere clad in a “suit”. They also come in a shorter, knee length version (on the same pattern, just cropped up a little) which makes them perfect for the summer. If I get round to it, I might make those as well.

I know I’ve banged on about Burdastyle before, but it really is a great place to go when you’re starting out. I learned a lot of stuff from there, and I probably owe it mostly to them that I got interested in sewing in the first place. It really helps to have a community like that out there.

Anyway, I have about 2 metres of that black linen left over so I reckon I’ll probably make another Rooibos dress with it. I lined the lady gey with pale yellow polka dot material from Spotlight and it looks lovely. Matching dress anyone? Is that a bit sad? This time, I’m definitely going to pipe it all around so I may not have enough material left over to do that – I shall have to see!

Anyway, this was supposed to be a quick update. I have only 4 days left until I have to start wearing all me-made clothes for a month so I’d better get on with it!

I have been on a sewing mission since my last post. Here are some of the fruits of my labour…some more to follow when i can get some pictures.

Burda Button down Skirt

I made this skirt on a whim the night I finished my Rooibos dress (pictures of that to follow!). It’s not perfect and, to be honest, I used it to try out buttonholes for the first time so they are much too close to the centre seam. It’s also a little too big around the waist to the point it makes me wish I had spent a little more time on it to make it better but, ah well, it’s perfectly serviceable.

I used some gorgeous vintage buttons I picked up in  Liberty to add a little interest.  I’ll probably end up taking these off at some stage and using them for something else. For the time being, they’ll stay.

Alexander Henry April Showers Top

I’m actually wearing this top today and I absolutely love it! People at work keep commenting on how unusual the fabric is. It reminds me of something I wore when I was little – and I specifically remember having something with a similar print on it -I just have no idea what that Item of clothing was.

Here is a close up of some of the little fellas:

I only bought a metre of this fabric because I was intending to use it to make a small set of curtains to protect my fabric stash from sunlight. However, when I looked at it I couldn’t bring myself to use it for that and instead decided to make a top using the Simplicity pattern TicTacSew used for her pin-up dress. I made the straps a little too long however, so ended up having to drag them up, fold them over and add some lovely blue buttons, attached with green thread for contrast (and because they both matched!)

Love Birds Parfait

I finally got round to making the Parfait dress in this gorgeous green fabric I bought in Spotlight in Coffs Harbour back in March. I adore this material: it’s so summery,  fresh and unusual. I have to say, I  love being able to make something that is different to what everyone else is wearing at the minute.

This is a picture of it pre-zip and pre hemming. I promise it’s lovely on! Next time I’ll make it a little longer though.

I covered some buttons in the fabric as well to make it that little bit more finished looking. The pockets turned ot really well and I’m really pleased with them. I also got a little carried away and made the buttons on the pocket “look” at each other. Here they are!

I also covered the strap buttons but chose two butterflies for those:

Michael Miller Doodle Fabric dress:

This dress is from the same pattern as the April Showers top above. I was so chuffed to put the invisible zip into the side of this dress absolutely perfectly, only to break it as soon as I had it in! This fabric and the April Showers fabric were bought at the same time.

And a close up (with added kitten):

I love how the different patterns make this dress look completely different. Thanks to the colour combination this will be a good dress for summer with some sandals, and for winter with some thick tights and boots.

I find that now, with each time I pick up the machine, I feel more confident and more easy using it. I can pretty much thread it blindfolded, I have got the hang of seaming without marking the allowance (which I really shouldn’t do), I know just how much thread to wind onto the bobbin to make sure I don’t run out and, best of all, I’m getting much faster at it! This past weekend I made both the dresses and this top. The Parfait dress is classed as an intermediate pattern and I found it no hassle at all to do, In fact, I didn’t once make a mistake with the seams or matching up the fabrics whilst I was doing it, which surely must show I’m improving, right?

I was also overjoyed today to find that my longed-for Tattoo print fabric arrived along with the lovely flower print fabric, which is much prettier in real life. I still haven’t fully decided what to do with the tattoo print fabric, nut I have a pttern in mind for the other. That should be this weekend’s project I think (and the Lady Grey coat, if the fabric ever arrives!)

In fact, I’m enjoying sewing so much I decided to buy a Supafit dress dummy to help me along. I really hate trying on clothes when there are pins sticking out of them and trying to adjust seams, check the fit and all that because I just end up scratched and annoyed so this seemed like a logical next step. Hopefully it’ll be worth the expense!

I have been coveting this Sailor Jerry-esque, tattoo-print  fabric from Alexander Henry for a long time now. Whilst I was on holiday a month or so back I saw a stunning shirt dress made from the black version which I was desperate to have. Unfortunately, the shirt dress was over Aus$200 and was only in a size 8. So, what’s a girl to do but make her own? Finally, yesterday, I decided that enough was enough and I bought about 5  metres of it. My plan is to make a shirt dress and then possibly a skirt with whatever is left over.  Now, the problem is that the only shirt dress pattern is the Colette Ceylon Pattern which I don’t think will suit the pattern or colour of the Tattoo fabric.Perhaps something in this style? Or something a little simpler? I’m going to have to sit down and really look at it, I think!

As I had to purchase 8m of fabric (well, I didn’t, but postage was going to be the same either way, so why not?) I also ordered 3m of this:

Luca Aubergine Fabric from Alexander Henry

TicTacSew has made a lovely halter neck dress out of a pattern with a small floral print (something I’d never really thought of using before) so I thought I might try my hand at something in a small print to try it out. It’s nice and summery anyway, so It will be good for work and can hopefully be teamed with a cardigan and dark tights for winter.

I went a bit mad yesterday when buying fabric and also saw this really unusual and stunning Underwater Sisters fabric (from I’ve been planning a Macaroon dress with this, possibly with a white contrast, but I shall have to wait and see what it’s like when it arrives. I fell in love instantly, and I  really couldn’t help myself buying it.  I do often cringe at how much fabrics cost, then I think to myself: “Would I be able to buy this garment for the same price?”. The answer is invariably no, and I love the fact that I can sit down at my machine and make something that I truly love, that fits me perfectly and that I have created with my own hands. As a consequence, I often find I’m more careful with my home-made clothes and I wear them that little bit more confidently.

At the minute, I have a lot more time than I normally would to sit down and make things but I can see that going out the window very shortly, so I’d better make the most of it!

An unusual title, eh?

Last night some friends of ours had a Bad Taste Party. I thought and thought about what to go as for weeks and really couldn’t settle on anything. Then, yesterday, whilst I was at the hairdressers, it came to me: I’d go as a MASSIVE POO. So, I had to think up a costume quickly and here’s what I came up with:

It’s made from a very long triangle of brown jersey material stitched to a point and stuffed with wadding to give it a bit of “texture”. I coiled it around and made it look like what it’s supposed to (isn’t this fairly grim?) adding some flies purchased from Paperchase for a bit of interest and some chin straps to hold it in place as my hat for the night. It took about 20 minutes to make in total so it looks a bit rough, but that’s half the charm, don’t you think?

Anyway, back to normality, the Rooibos dress is a little big so I’m going to take that in. A picture will undoubedtly appear once that’s finished.

Today, I’m setting my targets on the macaroon dress. I have some Michael Miller Owl fabric Which I’m going to use for the main body of it with some greed or black for the top (I’m, as yet, undecided). I’m also going to make it in a sizwe smaller than the Rooibosto start out with so I can check the fit as well.

Pictures to follow!

…is off to a great start! I figure if I have 8 or 9 pieces I can probably pull it off. So, yesterday, I remade the Rooibos pattern in navy twill with the daisy chain fabric. It’s pretty much done but It’s coming up a little short so I[‘m going to add a band of  fabric around the bottom to make it a little longer. I hope it doesn’t spoil the look of it! Here’s everything ready to go:

Raw materials

The raw materials - Pattern preiously traced and cut out, navy twill, green daisy chain fabric and instructions and

All pieces cut and ready to sew

Of course, it wouldn’t be a good sewing day if I didn’t sew at least one thing wrong and have to unpick at least 4 seams, which is exactly what happened. Thankfully everything turned out alright – although I probably need to redo the invisible zip since I couldn’t find it yesterday. I will post pics of the finished product once I have fixed the zip and added my little panel to the bottom. It’s a little on the large side (I forgot the previous one I made was too) so for the next version I’ll make it a size smaller. I also didn’t do the piping, something I promised myself I would this time, mostly because I just didn’t have any cord. Next time, for sure!

After having (alsmost) finished the rooibos dress I was in the mood for more sewing so found a pattern similar to the Beignet Skirt in one of the Burda magazines I subscribed to a while back. I made it in some of the remaining navy twill but have yet to add the little pockets to it (Pics will follow, don’t worry!). It doesn’t have the same elegance though, and I think I will buy the Beignet pattern anyway as it has a nice high waist anda nicer front. I’m also hoping to win the Sencha blouse in the red dotty fabric from the competition at The Sewing Directory which will be lovely with either my Burda skirt or, for a bit more elegance, the Beignet. It’s also one less Colette pattern to buy!

Back to the plot…

For Me-Made-June, so far I have:

The Burdastyle Danielle Dress. (that’s me on the left a good while back. Look at those chins!) This was a free pattern and the first dress I ever made. It’s terrible, but I kind of love it. I ran out of black polycotton and used normal cotton for parts so it’s two different colours, I hemmed it on the wrong side (I know!) and the zip is placd really badly. But it’s ok to get away with under a cardigan for work.

The Rooibos dress – I have two of these now – a maroon one and the new navy one.

The Burda skirt – Very easty to make so I may make another few as staples.

And opefully, soon, the Sencha blouse.

My mission today is to finish the Rooibos and start either the Macaroon  or the Parfait dress. First, there’s CPD to do (damn you, RPSGB!) and some cakes to make…

I have been a little inspired by Zoe’s Blog about wearing only clothes made by your own fair hands for the whole month of May. Whilst I would love to do this I simply do not have as many items of handmade clothing as I would wish so I am making it my mission for April and May to make as much as I possibly can to do my own version (without the beautiful alliteration): Me-Made-June.

My starting points for Me-Made-June are as follows:

Colette Patterns:

1006 Rooibos

I have made this dress already in some cheap polyester and linen I found in a charity shop in Oxford – I just have to insert the zip. I really love the pattern and I have a plan for navy twill and some Amy Butler Daisy Chain Fabric for the contrast.

I am also planning on making their coat, the Lady Grey which is shown over the Rooibos dress above. I love the wide lapels, and in a light fabric for the summer this would be perfect. (image from Colette patterns)

I also plan to make the Ceylon dress and the Parfait dress using some gorgeous fabric I bought in Australia recently.

I am really drawn to Colette Patterns due to their lovely vintage look and, unlike a lot of older patterns, they are completely practical and wearable. I may well make these dresses in a range of fabrics, and I’m hoping to try and alter one of these patterns somehow: something I’ve never done before.

I’m also planning to try out a vintage vogue pattern I’ve had knocking around for a while, and some patterns I got in a charity shop on holiday. Pictures at a later date!

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