Double duty sewing double

2014_04_badge1The April challenge for the Monthly Stitch was Sewing Double. The idea was to revisit a pattern you’d already made – maybe change it up a bit – or make 2 versions of the same pattern. I did a bit of both.

Sewing Double 1 The bodice of this dress is the perennially popular Elisalex from By Hand London, which I have made twice before here and here.

Another challenge running in April was Sew Dolly Clackett. I am sure you all know what that was about (and if you don’t just click on the link!). Roisin is rightly famous in our small corner of the world for mixing up her patterns and she does love to add a full skirt to her BHL bodices. In true Dolly Clackett spirit I dug out New Look 6223 and used the pleated skirt for these 2 frocks.

Sewing Double 2

Roisin’s signature style also relies heavily on whimsical prints; however I did not think I would ever wear a Cowgirl dress, and using an Eiffel Tower print would just feel too much like a complete copycat, so I looked for something a little more subtle, but still in the same arena of whimsy.

Beach huts Elisalex mashupThis cute little house print I found on ebay seemed to fit the bill, so I ordered me some yardage and got to sewing. From a distance the houses look like little beach huts, but close up they have lights and curtains and clocks on the wall, so let’s go with cottages.

Beach_huts_Elisalex_mashup11Not much to say about the construction. I love the Elisalex bodice and it always goes together easily. The bottom half is a no brainer pleated skirt, to which I added side seam pockets.

For my second make I chose this striped fabric from the same ebay vendor.

If_Dolly_Did_Stripes1Roisin doesn’t really use stripes so much, but if she did I’d like to think that she might chose something like this – so this is my “If Dolly did Stripes” dress.

I matched my stripes like a boss on the centre back seam (though nowhere else).

If Dolly Did Stripes2

Sadly I neither under stitched my lining nor topstitched my bodice, so my lining seems to be making an appearance in these pics…

I missed the deadline for both the Monthly Stitch and Sew Dolly Clackett. Annoyingly, I actually had both of the frocks sewn up in time, but I just haven’t got around to photographing and posting until today. As I said in my last post – sometimes there are bigger things in life than keeping your blog up to date!

Sewing Double 3

However, as today is the day Roisin marries Nic – the event for which Sew Dolly Clackett was conceived – it seems mine is a strangely timely tardiness. (I think I am right about the date – it’s certainly around now).

Anyway – that’s me done for now. Thanks to the wicked stepdaughter for the hurried pre-school photoshoot (that’s “before she goes to school” rather than “pre-school”). I think she’s hoping to be paid in kind with an Obi Wan Kenobi costume by next Friday. Where did I put that old bedspread?


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Hello and an award

I know that I am not the only one who feels an overwhelming urge to apologise for not having posted for a while, but why do we have that urge? This is not my job – nobody is relying on or expecting a post from me and nothing untoward has happened as a result of me not sharing my ramblings for a few weeks. Sometimes life gets in the way of sewing and blogging and I don’t think anyone should feel the need to apologise or make excuses for that. HOWEVER, I do feel the need to apologise for having been a bit rude recently…
Unless this is the only sewing blog you ever read* you will probably have seen the Liebster Awards doing the rounds the last month or two.


*Obviously this is not the only sewing blog you ever read – that is a ridiculous idea – unless you happen to be one of my oldest friends with no interest in sewing beyond what I am up to (and the odd episode of TGBSB), in which case you might not be familiar with the Liebsters. I have seen so many variations on the rules, but in a nutshell:

  • awarded to bloggers by other bloggers
  • awarded to bloggers with fewer than 100 (or 200, or 500) followers
  • nominees answer the 10 (or 11, or 12) questions put to them
  • nominees nominate 10 (or 5, or 3, or 11) other blogs with fewer than 100 (or 500) followers
  • nominees ask their own 10 (or 11, or 12) questions of the bloggers they have nominated
  • nominees give 10 (or 11, or 6) facts about themselves

It’s a great way of spreading the word about blogs you like, but it has been around for a while, so there is some variance in the ‘rules’ (I think 11 is actually the official number for all of the lists above, but I’m not sure) – and when it does do the rounds a lot of the same blogs seem to come up on a lot of lists. It also has a bit of a reputation as the chain mail of awards, but I don’t think anyone has ever actually been threatened with a curse if they don’t continue the chain.

That said, I am honoured and a bit chuffed to have been awarded multiple Liebsters in the last couple of months. I think my first nomination was from Kathy at The Nerdy Seamstress. I love Kathy’s blog, as she churns out beautiful dresses and her posts are upbeat and fun You can see her Emery collection here). This was followed by nominations from Jennifer at My Sewing Suite, who always looks enviably put together with her (often) vintage inspired makes; Beth at Nishiink, who is just adorable and makes such cute garments (Whales, deer, SPACEMEN!) and Nicole at the Somnolent Dachshund – a bit of a fashion butterfly with a great mix of vintage and modern makes (I love her Koi mini Moss).

Anyhoo – if I add up everybody’s questions it comes to 38 and I am not going to subject you (or me!) to that, so I will go with Kathy’s questions, seeing as she was my first nominatrix!

1. What interesting fact about yourself that you want people to know? 
Gaagh! I am so dull, I can’t think of anything notable about myself. I’d make something up, but there are people reading who would call me on it, so… I once drove the whole of Route 66 as part of my job.

2. Why did you take up sewing?
I can’t really remember! I just remember that one day I found myself looking for a free dress pattern online and I found Burdastyle and that was the beginning of an obsession. (I might have wanted to re-create something from the Toast catalogue… the first thing I made was a very Toast-esque corduroy tunic)

3. Other than sewing, if time weren’t a concern, how would you spend your day?
Reading and watching cookery programmes and generally being very lazy. Or travelling the world, meeting new people and generally being very active. Depends on my mood, and if money is a concern!

4. What have you learned most from maintaining a blog?
That I don’t half waffle on

5. What other artistic/crafty things do you like to do?
I do like to bake, but I don’t like my kitchen, so don’t do it very much.

6. What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
Easy one – walking! I wish it were gardening, I really do. I’d love to want to garden, but it really is something I get around to when I have run out of excuses!

7. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it? 
I’d love to say I would do something grand, but truth is I would probably be selfish and prudent with most of it (pay off mortgage and invest for retirement). I would do something fun with my girlfriends first, though – a trip to New York or some such.

8. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
My entire childhood is pretty much one big happy memory. I had the best time growing up with two brothers I mostly got along with and the best parents I could hope for.

9. What’s your make that you’re proud of?
My Robson Trench

10. What have you learned most from sewing?
Shortcuts rarely are shortcuts. Just follow the instructions already!

11. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Bad music from the 70s/80s… and Hollywood musicals… and America’s Next Top Model… and crap food… and good food…

And as if that weren’t enough about me I now need to come up with 11 more facts.

1. I have one leg shorter than the other

2. I used to manage a pub and my capacity for alcohol was legendary

3. My dad is a morris dancer and I am not embarrassed by it!

4. I can play the flute – but not well

5. I have a deep and abiding lust for Tim Roth

6. I once cut my head open as a direct result of my excitement about fish and chips

7. I have clothes in my wardrobe that I have owned for over 26 years (nothing special or vintage, you understand – just t-shirts and casual tops)

8. I sing to myself much of the time and talk myself through things out loud whilst I am working. This is usually not a problem, as I work from home, but I sometimes find myself  working in a more public arena and forget that I shouldn’t be chatting to myself / burping and farting out loud

9. which reminds me – I still find farting really funny

10. I religiously eat my 7 fruit and veg every day – cheese is a vegetable, right?

11. I love to be in water. Swimming, bathing, floating. I can’t see the sea without getting at least my feet wet, no matter how cold it is

Now the 11 nominations. This is quite hard because a) there are lots of blogs I love, but b) most of them have been nominated for this award at some point. And there is the whole fewer than 100 followers thing…

So in no particular order this is a list of some of my favourite, but possibly lesser known blogs, which might or might not already have a Liebster, and might or might not have over 100 followers, (but all have fewer than 200 – I am just going on Bloglovin’s figures for this.) I won’t offer any further insight. They are blogs about sewing – click on the links to see if you like them too:

Norse Otter
rennous oh glennus
Sew Exhausted
Sew Rachel
Sew Smitten
The Dressmaking Diaries
Lady Sewalot
Every Stitch I Make
Cuckoo Channel
Starcross Sewing
Bon Courage

(I know that is 12, but I suddenly remembered one I wanted to add)

Oh – and I need to come up with 11 questions. (If I have nominated you, please don’t feel obliged to respond – especially if you have already had the award and gone through the process!)

1. Where is your favourite place?

2. If you could have a personal chef or a personal stylist (who could also help out in the sewing room), which would you chose?

3. What is the most inappropriate/ridiculous outfit you have ever worn?

4. What is your favourite movie genre?

5. What is the most you have ever spent on a single piece of fabric (and have you used it yet?)

6. Who is your favourite Doctor Who?

7. Is there anything you would love to make, but just can’t pluck up the courage?

8. Dogs or cats?

9. Which parent or family member are you most like?

10. How many hats do you own?

11. If the world as we know it were to end, do you feel more prepared for a) a zombie apocalypse, b) the Rise of the Machines (bow down to your robot masters!)?

So there you go – thank you again to those who nominated me (check out their blogs, too – they would all have been on my list had they not got to me first!).

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TMS Miss Bossy patterns challenge – Dakota

For the Miss Bossy Patterns challenge you, dear readers, chose that I should make the Dakota dress from Finnish pattern company Named Clothing. So I did.

Dakota shawl collar dress

Dakota shawl collar dress

It was a beautiful day for photographs. Sadly my photographer was too distracted by the cats playing in the garden to notice things like skirts hoiking up or the lines of my top showing through, or that he might be taking pictures from an unflattering angle. But my other photographer, who is generally more engaged with the process, was still at school.

distracting cat

distracting cat


distracting lumpage

distracting lumpage

So, the dress. The jury is still out on this one. I kinda like it, but it is not exactly the most flattering thing I have ever worn.

I bought the fabric, a great quality Ponte jersey from Minerva Crafts, before Christmas, when it seemed that half the world’s sewing bloggers had discovered ponte knit (and Rachel from House of Pinheiro had used it for a Dakota) and were all raving about how great it is to work with. Which I can only agree with. It is stable, so it stays on grain and is easy to cut and sew without it shifting and it does not fray, so I did not feel the need to do ANY kind of seam finish (yay for the lazy sewer).

I had both wind and sun battling with my face

I had both wind and sun battling with my face

Talking of lazy, I chose not to add pockets or plackets. The pocket decision was because I did not love the look of a patch pocket in a fairly thick fabric, but the sleeve plackets / cuffs was purely a time saver. I finished the hems with a twin needle and trimmed the fabric close to the stitching – the fabric was too bulky to turn twice and I tried a bias edge, but it did not want to follow the curve of the hem.

I purchased the fabric in this colour because it was on offer rather than it being my first choice of colour. Now that I know what it is like to sew with I am more likely to splurge on some full priced ponte for future projects.

Dakota Squatting

Dakota Squatting

The pattern did go together well. The shawl collar was quite straightforward, the sleeves went in with no drama (probably aided by the stretch in the fabric) and the instructions  were easy to follow (when I bothered to look at them).

I did spend a lot of time seam ripper in hand on this one and ponte is a swine to unpick, as the stitches sink slightly into the fabric. The fault was all my own, though – at one point I sewed the front of the skirt to the back the wrong way round, so half the seams were on the outside. Once I had dealt with that issue and then sewn the skirt to the bodice I realised that I had sewn all of the skirt pieces together in the wrong order. It is an 8 gored skirt and I had the front and back side pieces in the middle and the centre pieces at the sides, making the sides longer than the front (not sure why I had decided that was how it should be – it was only when I looked at the line drawing I realised my mistake). I did nearly leave it that way, as I quite liked the look, but thought better of it.

central bunchage

central bunchage

The only changes I made to the pattern were to lengthen the bodice by about an inch and the skirt by about an inch and a half, which I did using the technical method of eyeballing it as I cut it out.

It is meant to be loose fitting – there are no fastenings, so you need to be able to get that waist seam past something wider to get it on – so I do think it needs a belt, but pulling the waist in with a belt also makes the fabric bunch at the front a bit and then in hangs oddly… or maybe it is my lumps and bumps getting in the way.

Beltless - hangs better, but looks unfinished...

Beltless – hangs better, but looks unfinished…

Overall verdict is that I like the dress enough to wear it, but if I were to make this pattern again I would use a flowier fabric. And read the instructions.

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Sew Grateful giveaway winner

The winner of my Sew Grateful giveaway of fabric and a pattern is…



Wendy from Coser Cosas, who said:

I were to win this fabric, I would make it into a bag to transport my wetsuit and other sailing stuff!

Congratulations Wendy! I don’t seem to have an email address for you, so can you drop me a line at and let me know where to send it!

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You are the boss of me

Thank you to all of you who voted on which pattern I should make for the Monthly Stitch Miss Bossy challenge.

New Look 6000

New Look 6000

By Hand London Victoria Blazer

By Hand London
Victoria Blazer

Named Patterns Dakota

Named Patterns






For much of the voting period New Look 6000 was in the lead (though most of the comments were from people who had chosen one of the other two), but in the final few days there was a run on the Dakota, so it seems I am finally going to come good on the sewalong badge I never got around to taking down.

A couple of folk have commented that they have not seen many finished Dakotas online – and this despite the fact there was a recent sew along. Should I be worried? How many half finished Dakotas are there out there?

In other news I will be announcing the winner of my Sew Grateful giveaway in the next day or so – keep an eye out if you entered!

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TMS February Challenge – Smarty Pants

2014_02_badgeFebruary at The Monthly Stitch is Smarty Pants month, so we’ve all been making garments with legs – shorts, leggings, trousers, jeans… you get the idea.


My first choice of pattern was the Sewaholic Thurlow, but for various reasons I have been a bit short on time this month, so I decided to go with a fairly simple pattern, with not too many pieces and (I hoped) minimal fitting issues. Luckily I had this very easy Vogue pattern in my stash.


Having seen some of the fantastically well fitted jeans and trousers some of the other Monthly Stitchers have been churning out I do feel that going for something so loose fitting might be a bit of a cop-out, but I am actually pretty happy with the result.


Now, I’ll let you into a dirty secret; I often can’t be arsed with the kind of leg maintenance called for by the warmer months. (not that I think that there is anything wrong with leg hair per se, but personally I am more comfortable exposing my lower limbs if I have depilated in some way, and have maybe gone up a shade from my natural skimmed milk.) I therefore seem to spend much of the Summer in wide legged linen trousers (or a wide legged linen pant, if you will), so I think this will be a really useful pattern for me.

Rather than do any kind of muslin business I just pinned them on to myself after sewing the inner leg seams but before sewing the outer seams, and made adjustments from there. I needed to take an additional inch from each side (and remember to do the same with the waistband). At this point I also took a bit off the overall width of the legs.


I was going to use my serger on the seams, but it is not working and I can’t work out what is wrong with it, so I just used a zigzag stitch to finish the seams.

I made pocket bags and waistband facing from scraps leftover from my parrot Elizalex. Apart from taking some of the width out of the legs my only change to the pattern was to add a couple of extra belt loops and make a self- fabric belt.


This claims to be a very easy pattern, and it really is. I couldn’t quite work out the instructions for the zipper, but I just did what felt right and it worked out fine. The trousers close at the top with trouser hook and bar fasteners – the buttons are merely cosmetic – so there are not even any buttonholes to fret over. The pockets are in seam, which further simplifies things, so it only took a few hours total to make these.

Next time I would take a bit more width out of the leg, and would also take another half inch out of the waistband, but I will definitely get some wear out of these as they are.

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Sew Grateful projects day

Today is the Sew Grateful projects day, so I thought it would be the ideal opportunity to show a top I made with a beautiful Liberty tana lawn I won in a giveaway.


Way back in October Louise at A Make Parade hosted a giveaway for 1m of tana lawn from Sewbox. I was delighted to win and although I knew from the start what I wanted to make I only actually managed to get around to making it a few days ago. liberty sencha 3

I started with the Colette Sencha pattern and simplified this already easy project in order to squeeze it out of a single metre (I think the pattern calls for nearly 2 yards). I omitted the facings, finishing instead with bias binding. I also did not use the lovely button back, instead cutting the back in a single piece. By cutting on the cross grain I just managed to fit in the two pattern pieces whilst maintaining a reasonable length – luckily the print is not directional, so you cannot tell that I have it sideways, but this did not leave any wiggle room to even attempt to match the pattern at the seams.

liberty sencha 6

Without facings I needed to lower the neck a bit (and also to make sure I could get my head through the hole), for which I used the mathematical formula of just-cut-a-bit-more-off-until-it-looks-about-right. Next time I would probably make the neck a little lower still – or possibly make it a v-neck.

liberty sencha 5

When it came to construction I had 2 fabric pieces, so I could pretty much ignore the instructions. I used the By Hand London Anna technique of hemming the armholes before sewing the side seam, as I have found this a much easier method, especially when using french seams. I could have hand stitched my bias binding in place, but instead I used 2 rows of stitching to secure it – one row of machine stitching is lazy, but 2 is a design feature, right?

liberty sencha 1

Anyway – a lovely simple top to showcase a beautiful fabric. I am very grateful to Louise and Susan at Sewbox for giving me the chance to work with this dream fabric!

And if you fancy sewing with Liberty lawn yourself, pop over to Handmade Jane as the ever generous Susan is offering one of Jane’s readers the chance to win a metre of Liberty fabric today!

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