DIY buttons!

Have you discovered self-cover buttons?  I have!

I couldn’t decide which buttons to use on my skirt, when I came across these in the shop.


Prym cover buttons and universal tool!  They are so easy to use!  All the instructions you need are on the back of the packaging.  They’re also available in different sizes.  There are plenty of other brands who do self-cover button kits as well – you can choose the ones that will work best for you.

These buttons are just the right size for one little hedgehog, so I’m hoping my pattern will match up even more.  Check these out!


It might not work.  I’ll let you know.  One of the many great things about buttons is that they can be removed easily…

Head scratching pattern matching

For my second project, I decided to go for a patterned fabric.  This fabric!  I think it’s by Kokka, but I got mine from a local crafts shop and it’s from available online.


If you want to, you can try to match the pattern across the seams etc. when you’re using a patterned fabric.  You may not have noticed, but pattern matching isn’t often something you find on shop-bought clothes.  This is mainly to keep the cost down when making clothes (and also a bit of laziness) – matching your pattern usually means you’ll use more fabric.  Here are a few examples, courtesy of my wardrobe.

But, if you do have the time, I promise you, it’s so worth it!

I’m not going to lie – I did find this quite tricky, even though the skirt I’m making is ‘easy’.  It took a full sewing bee session to get my head around it – I didn’t get around to stitching a single thing.  It’s time consuming, but I’m hoping it will get quicker and easier with practice.  And I think I’ve done pretty well so far.  Here is one of my side seams…


…and here is my placket.


Not bad, eh?  All I need to do now is make sure I get all of my buttonholes and buttons in exactly the right spots.  Otherwise, all that hard work will be ruined!

It’s a pattern minefield!

One thing that struck me almost instantly was the sheer volume of sewing patterns available.  You could spend hours (days, weeks…) trying to find the perfect pattern.  Not just that, but the vast differences between patterns labelled as ‘easy’ or ‘beginner’.  Take Rachel’s skirt, for instance, and compare it to mine.  Hers was a wraparound skirt, which involved lots of sewing, but no add-ons – the pieces ‘simply’ needed to be sewn together in the right way.  Mine, on the other hand: a zip, buttons, straps, top stitching, the works.  And Rachael’s was different again.  See for yourselves – here are the links to all three patterns.

Mine, from Victory Patterns.

Rachel’s, from Tilly and the Buttons.

Rachael’s, from Vogue.

So, if you’re a beginner and you really are looking for a very simple make, my advice would to have a close look at your pattern, like Rachel did, and try to give yourself an idea of what it might entail.  This could be tricky if you haven’t already bought your pattern, but you could probably get a good idea by checking what notions you’ll need – you should be able to check this before you hand over any money.

Having said that, all three of us have managed to construct skirts that, miraculously, remain intact and are very definitely wearable – the three mus-skirt-eers! So, perhaps there is something to finding a beginner pattern you like and just going with it.  It worked for Rachael and me!  Plus, you will hopefully have a sewing instructor on hand to help when you need it (which will be often!).

Read your pattern thoroughly and trust what it’s telling you! I’ve already had a couple of instances when I’ve thought, ‘That doesn’t seem right; I’ll just do this my way.’  Cue lots of unpicking and cursing at your sewing machine (because it’s always the machine’s fault, obviously).  Well, I’ve learnt my lesson there.

Whichever pattern you choose, good luck!  And please share your projects with me – I’d love to see what you’re up to.



My recent foray into dressmaking has inspired me to put some words down on the subject.

I’ve always loved vintage clothes, but honestly, who has time to comb through rails and rails of clothing in vintage shops?  Sadly, that’s something I only get to do on odd occasions.  And I am already far too old for most high street fashion.  It’s all belly tops, neon colours and miniskirts – no, thank you.  What better way is there to get the clothes you want than to make them yourself?

I’m very new to dressmaking.  I started only three months ago when a couple of friends and I decided to sign up for a Dressmaking for Beginners course at Sunderland College.

There we are – the three mus-skirt-eers!  Left to right, Rachel, Rachael (yes, it does get confusing!) and myself.

A mere nine weeks later and presto, I had my very first handmade skirt – magical! And now, well, I just can’t get enough of sewing.  I’ve spent break times and lunch times browsing sewing blogs and websites, musing over fabrics and patterns, and planning future projects.  I’ve moved straight on to skirt number two and I’ve signed up to a weekly sewing bee at the Centre Front Studio in Wallsend.  Dan and Rory, the instructors, have been fantastic! They’ve turned three absolute beginners into expert (?) dressmakers in a matter of weeks.  Well, a couple of months really, but still…

In this blog, I’ll record my progress with dressmaking, starting from the very beginning.  I’ll try to take you through the ups and downs of learning to make your very own clothes.  My ups and downs, at least.  I’ll tell you about new things I’ve tried as I learn them, blog about stuff I think might be interesting, and of course, post pictures of anything I make (whether it’s a success or not).

And maybe I’ll persuade a few others to give this a try, too!