Sew My Style – April

I know what you’re thinking.  Maybe it’s a bit late to be posting about an April make?  That may be true, but I have a confession – I didn’t actually finish this in April.  I finished it much later than that, and now I’m playing catch up.

So far, I’ve shared my Toaster sweater, Saunio cardigan and Virginia leggings with you, and April’s Sew My Style pattern pick was the Bridgetown dress from Sew House Seven.

I love this dress and I was pleasantly surprised to find it suited me a bit more than I thought it would (though I did size down a lot).  I love the backless design, although, a couple of people on Instagram pointed out that it is reversible!  I was worried that the sleeves may have had a tendency to slide off my shoulders and that I might end up with ‘flashing issues’ (Bridget Jones, anyone?), but I have found that they behave themselves quite well actually.

The fabric
This was the most challenging bit – working with a super slippery viscose.  It’s beautiful and so, so soft, but it’s a slippery little sucker.  I got this from Sewisfaction, my new favourite place!  I so wish I lived in that neck of the woods so I could visit.

The pattern
Bridgetown, by Sew House Seven.  The instructions were easy to follow and this was a surprisingly easy make.  There are no fastenings or zips, no darts or shaping – just the elastic working its magic.  You even only have to hem the skirt because of the way the sleeve is designed.  I made no modifications whatsoever.

The cost
The fabric was £24, but I got 3 metres because I managed to get confused about how much fabric I needed.  I have absolutely loads left – enough for a top for sure.  And the pattern was around £9 with Sew My Style discount.  £33 in total.


#MonetaParty Dress

Have you ever ended up with a fabric and had no idea what you’re going to make out of it?  I’m sure you understand.  This was one of those fabrics for me.  I was completely dazzled b the sparkles.  Like a niffler!  I wanted the sparkles, but I had no clue what to do with them.  Then came the #MonetaParty on Instagram, organised by the Triple Stitchers (sewpositivity, sewabigail and rach_wain) and Colette Patterns.  I wasn’t initially sure I’d have time to take part, but then I saw Abi’s sparkly Moneta and knew I had to make my own!

The pattern
Moneta by Colette Patterns, of course.  It was third time lucky for me and Colette Patterns, having tried and failed to make a pair of Juniper trousers and a Macaron dress and having rather a a traumatic time of it for both projects.  Moneta, on the other hand, was super easy and I love it!  The instructions were easy to follow and the construction is really simple.  I think I probably sewed it in about three hours.

I swapped out the gathers for pleats, because I thought it would give the dress a smarter look.  I put inverted box pleats where the notches on the front and back skirt are.  I’m surprised at how well they’ve worked on such slinky fabric.  I also omitted the pockets, again because I didn’t think they were suited to the style of dress.  The most exciting thing though (after having a spangly dress to flounce around in, of course) is that I learned to use a twin needle!  I’m a little too excited about this, and now that I’ve cracked it I’ll be a twin needle fiend.  Sadly, because I used matching thread (silly me!), nobody can admire my handiwork on this dress, but just wait until I have the chance for contrasting topstitching!

The fabric
A very slink, very sparkly lurex jersey from the Textile Centre.  I was worried my machine would try to eat this fabric, but it actually handled it just fine – nice surprise 🙂

The cost
The fabric was an absolute bargain – a grand total of £4.48 for two metres in the Textile Centre January sale.  The pattern was about £10, and I already had everything else I needed.  Less than £15 for a party dress – win!  😀

#OWOP16 – Bettine no. 5

I’m combining stash busting with re-fashioning with Bettine number five 🙂

The fabric: I used leftover dachshund jersey from my Agnes top  for the bodice.  I won this fabric in a giveaway hosted by So, Zo… and Girl Charlee UK.  I still love it, it’s so soft and comfy.  I paired it up with fabric from a beautiful, coral corduroy skirt I found in a charity shop.  Always look out for fabrics you like in charity shops even if whatever it is won’t fit you – this skirt was far too big for me, but it had masses of fabric so I knew I’d be able to hack it apart and make something else.

Modifications: yep, a few.  Again, I made all the relevant changes for working with jersey outlined in Tilly’s blog post for the bodice.  The corduroy skirt was panelled, so I ended up having to panel mine.  I have two front pieces and two back pieces, and centre from and centre back seams.  It’s really easy to make your skirt this way – just add seam allowances where the fold lines are on the pattern pieces and cut two front and back pieces, instead of one front and back piece on the fold.  I hope that makes sense.  Once they’re sewn together, you can treat them in exactly the same way you ordinarily would.  The other change I made was to make ‘pocket bags’ because I didn’t have quite enough fabric to get full pockets.  As a result I have half corduroy pockets and half cotton pockets.  Again, to do this, I just split my pockets in half and added seam allowances to each piece.

The pattern: trusty Bettine.

The cost:  I already had everything I needed except the skirt, which cost £3.  Bargain or what?!

#OWOP16 – Bettine no. 4

More stash busting today!  I’m not doing too badly with this de-stashing resolution.  Marking the halfway point of One Week One Pattern 2016, I have my jersey Bettine.

The fabric: a red ditsy floral from Fabric Godmother, which is now out of stock.  It’s a lightweight jersey with a nice drape, so works well for the pattern.

Modifications: the ones Tilly suggests for making a jersey Bettine in this blog post.  You have to swap the neckline facing for a neckband and omit the pockets (the only downside to this dress).  I also decided not to have cuffs or tabs, and simply turned the sleeves under.  As with Bettine number three, I didn’t use zigzag stitch, and it seems to be okay.  No adjustments needed to be made to the size because of the style of the dress – no working out negative ease and all that jazz.  Another perk to not adding pockets is that it made it a super-quick sew.  I think I made the whole thing in no more than four hours.  Plus, I paused for lunch and to watch a couple of vlogs.

The pattern: Tilly and the ButtonsBettine.

The cost: just the cost of the fabric.  I got two metres for £18.  I used less than 1.5 metres for this version though, so the leftovers have gone to my sister 🙂

#OWOP16 – Bettine no. 3

After making two Bettine’s exactly as the pattern suggests I decided it was time for a bit of experimenting – this one is half jersey and half denim.  Not only that, but I’ve done some stash busting too, making this a really cheap sew.

The fabric: leftovers from other projects.  I got the striped jersey from Plush Addict ages ago and it was leftover from my Coco dress, and the lightweight denim was rescued from a disastrous (I mean, disastrous) attempt at a jumpsuit.  I had enough denim left for the front skirt piece, but I had to cut two pieces for the back from the trousers of the jumpsuit.  This means I’ve got a centre back seam, but that’s okay.  I used more fabric from the jumpsuit for contrast cuffs, pocket linings and facings.  How very frugal of me!  It was a bit challenging making the stretchy jersey and denim go together nicely, but with a bit of gentle persuasion I managed it.

The pattern: Tilly and the ButtonsBettine dress.

Modifications: yes, a few.  Tilly outlines various changes you should make when making Bettine from jersey in this blog post.  I followed her instructions for the top half of the dress – for me, it really only meant I had to swap out the neckline facing for a neckband.  I didn’t actually follow some of the usual rules for sewing with jersey, such as using zigzag stitch, because the garment isn’t form fitting and doesn’t need to stretch while you’re wearing it, so I didn’t think it would matter.  It seems to be okay so far – hopefully I won’t live to regret it.

The cost: I was tempted to label this a free project, because the chances of me rescuing the denim from that ghastly jumpsuit were very slim.  However, I did probably use about a metre of denim (maybe slightly more), so I will include that.  It was this denim – £7 per metre from Fabric Time.  I already had everything else though, so it really did only cost me £7.

By the way, I completely forgot to take any photos to document the epic disaster that was the jumpsuit (this jumpsuit), which I’m really angry at myself about.  It’s a lovely pattern, but there were two problems.  Firstly, an incident with my overlocker meant that I put an enormous hole in one of the trouser legs.  I could have cried real tears, let me tell you, but I decided to persevere and try to make a wearable toile, shortening the legs to get rid of the hole and have a shorts-style play suit instead.  However, it didn’t take long for problem number two to become apparent.  To say I had crotch issues would be the understatement of the century.  I’m short, so I would always expect skirts to come up a little long and crotches to sit a little low.  A little low.  However, this particular crotch was sagging about three quarters of the way down my thighs.  I’m not kidding – it was ridiculous.  I do really like it, so I’ll be giving it another go at some point (this time I’ll toile it properly!) and report back.  You live and learn, don’t you?

#OWOP16 – Bettine no. 2

Today, I have my second take on Bettine for One Week One Pattern 2016 🙂

I love version two of Bettine as much as I love version one.  I made it in exactly the same way – with pockets, cuffs and tabs – but it didn’t take as long, as I’d already adjusted my paper pattern pieces to fix some fitting issues with the first one.  I can see this is going to be along and happy love affair.  Bettine is pretty much everything I want from a pattern.  It’s easy to sew up, it pinches in at the waist, and it has lovely big pockets.

The fabric: a lovely, bird print crepe, which was another bargain from the Textile Centre.  It was £3.99 per metre – it’s no longer available on their website, but it looks like there’s a small amount left in their eBay shop.  It has a tiny bit of stretch to it, but not enough that it was difficult to work with.

The pattern: Tilly and the ButtonsBettine, of course.

The cost:  I bought two metres of fabric, but I already had everything else I needed.  I used buttons from my stash, leftover from my Delphine skirt.  I already factored the cost of the pattern into yesterday’s post, so this dress only cost me about £8.

And on to version three…

#OWOP16 – Bettine no. 1

Is anyone else taking part in One Week One Pattern 2016, hosted by the marvellous Cinderellis Sews?  You can find out how to take part here.  I’ve wanted to take part since 2014, when it last took place, but I just didn’t have enough made by then.  I vowed to jump on the OWOP bandwagon at the next opportunity, and here it is 🙂  And if you really manage to impress, you may even win a prize!


The pattern I’ve chosen is the Bettine dress from Tilly and the Buttons.  I love this dress!  I knew I would as soon as I saw the pattern.  It’s got everything I want from a dress – it looks stylish but easy to wear, it looked like a fairly simple sew (no darts, no zips etc.), and above all, it has those marvellously ginormous pockets – it’s all about the pockets for sweets.

The fabric: an absolute bargain viscose from the Textile Centre – there’s none left now I’m afraid.  There was a ‘slight imperfection’ with the roll so they were selling it at £2.99 per metre.  It really was slight – a single line of damage across the weft in just one area (from the selvedge to maybe 4 inches in), which was very easy to avoid.  I ordered three metres, but I’m fairly certain I got more like four – perhaps it was the end of the roll.  Anyway, I have two metres left and I don’t think I could have got a whole dress out of one metre, so I think they sent me a little extra for whatever reason.  Thanks, guys! It was a bit tricky to work with because of the drape.  Having said that, it’s way easier to work with than any of the other floppy fabrics I’ve used.  I’d say viscose (it might be called rayon across the pond?) would be a good next step fabric if you want to move on to something more exciting than cotton.

The pattern: another great pattern from Tilly and the Buttons.  I know I mention Tilly and the Buttons a lot, but the patterns really are brilliant.  Bettine is no exception.  The instructions are so easy to follow, crammed with pictures so you have a good idea of what you should be doing, and Tilly usually does a sewalong of new patterns on her blog too, so you can find all sorts of useful tips on there.  I did the version with pockets (obviously!), cuffs and tabs.  It was my first time adding cuffs to something and that went quite well.  I did it wrong the first time – my own fault because I didn’t read the instructions properly (d’oh!) – but I was surprised at how easy they were, and they certainly make the dress a little more interesting.  The hardest part, as it says in the pattern, is sewing the elastic channel – because of the way it’s sewn, you can’t see any of your seam guides on the sewing machine, but I took my time and managed it with minimal wonkiness.  A huge thumbs up from me for Bettine 🙂

Modifications: just one.  Despite loving the pattern, I did notice while I was sewing that it had quite exaggerated curves around the hips.  It was a deliberate style feature, but I suspected it wouldn’t look so great on my body shape.  I’m quite hippy as it is, so I don’t need to accentuate them in any way.  I decided I would make it, wear it once or twice, and see how I felt about it before meddling with the pattern.  I knew I’d be able to take it in quite easily if I needed to.  I wore it to work once, but by the end of the day I was very aware of my hips.  A couple of days later I decided I’d shave some of that excess curve off the side seams.  Now, it’s perfect 🙂  I will wear this a lot!  I’ve altered my paper pattern pieces for next time and I already have fabric lined up for Bettine take two.

The cost: I think I used around two metres of fabric at £2.99 per metre.  The paper pattern was £12.50 (the PDF is £9.50 if you’d rather).  I already had the thread I needed, and I used some leftover self-cover buttons from my picnic blanket skirt.  That makes a grand total of £18.48 🙂

Macaron dress

I’ve mentioned my Colette Macaron dress a few times in previous blog posts.  It’s been in the making since January – I had lots of fitting issues and accidental-holes-in-fabric traumas and the like.  I thought I’d finished it at the end of April, when disaster struck.  I was trying it on (luckily!) the night before I was meant to wear it to my friend’s wedding, only to realise I’d managed to insert a faulty zip.  Cue small panic attack and a last minute outfit change.

I should mention that the snags I had were nothing to do with the pattern, which was very easy to follow.  The problems were all my own doing.

Firstly, I decided to swap out the solid cotton yoke for a see through tulle, which meant adapting the pattern accordingly – no facing, figuring out a way to tidy up the seams and so on.  Secondly, I managed to cut my fabric pieces out too small.  I’m not sure how, and of course, I’d completely shunned the idea of making a toile – zzzzz.  Not having enough fabric left to re-cut a larger size, we (and by ‘we’, I mean Dan, my sewing instructor) sorted it out by creating side panels to match the contrasting waistband.  Thirdly, I twice (yes, twice) managed to put holes in my fabric and then had to figure out ways of covering up said holes – I had to move my waistband seam up and my neckline down by a few millimetres.  Then I had the zip fiasco.  It took me a long time to forgive the dress for the endless trauma it had already caused and pluck up the courage to swap the zip with a new one.  And once I’d finally fixed that I decided I didn’t like the sleeves.  I didn’t like where the shoulder seams were sitting, so I cut the sleeves off and used bias binding to finish the edge.

And ta-da!  Finally finished!  Ten months later.

What did I learn?

  1. I am far too heavy-handed with a seam ripper.
  2. This pattern hacking business is sometimes not as easy as you think it’ll be, especially when you throw in a delicate fabric.
  3. As much as I dislike the idea, I need to start making toiles of some of my garments (preferebly wearable), especially for anything with a fitted bodice.

So, there you have it – not the most pleasant of sewing experiences, but I learned a lot.  I’m finally able to wear my finished dress, ten months after I started it.  😀

My stash and sewing to do list

I’m making a sewing resolution – no more fabric!  Not until I’ve made some stuff.  This resolution came to me in A. Boeken, an amazing fabric shop I found while I was in Amsterdam last weekend.  This place is brilliant – I wish it was around the corner.  It has everything you could ever need – every fabric you can think of, as well as buttons, fastenings, all the notions, and even yarns.  However, I was quite uneasy to realise I couldn’t really buy any fabric because my stash is getting too out of control.  As much as I’d love to have a ginormous fabric stash at my disposal, I do have limited storage space so I can’t let it build up too much.  I made a split decision in the shop that I have quite enough fabric to be getting along with for now.  How sensible of me 🙂  From now on, it’ll be a ‘one out, one in’ approach – I’m only going to allow myself to buy new fabric once I’ve made something.  I need to get my stash down so that next time I happen upon a good fabric shop I can buy something.

For motivation, I thought it would be a good idea to make a sewing to do list.  Who doesn’t love a ticky box list?  So here’s a peak at what’s in my stash and what I’m hoping to make with it all.

These three are miraculously still leftover from my Plush Addict haul.  I’m hoping to use the striped jersey to make Coco dress, from Tilly and the Buttons.  I started a toile for this, but haven’t done anything with the dress yet, because I really like Coco and I want to make sure the fit is right.  The toile I’m making is the top version of Coco, so I’m going to get the fit right on that before I start on the dress.  The red faux silk is being saved for a Mathilde top, also from Tilly.  I chose a faux silk for ease of washing.  And I’m currently partway through turning the polka dot chiffon into the simple tee from the second Great British Sewing Bee book, Sew Your Own Wardrobe.  Here’s the thing with chiffon: not easy to cut at all!  By the time I’d gone through the stress of cutting the fabric pieces – and there are only two pattern pieces! – I just couldn’t face doing anything else with it.  It sat in a corner waiting for attention for a couple of months, before I finally plucked up the courage to do the shoulder and side seams, and now it just needs some bias binding around the neckline, armholes and hem.

What else have I added to my stash since then?  Well, first of all, I have these floral lovelies.

I love floral prints.  I got this blue Rose and Hubble fabric off eBay in the end.  A lady I’ve been following on Twitter, Claire Mason, shared a picture of her pussy bow Mimi Blouse, from Tilly Walnes’ Love at First Stitch, and I instantly fell in love with it.  It turned out she’d got the fabric a while back, so I hopped on to eBay to see if I could find some.  Success!  And, quite shamelessly, I’m going to make exactly the same garment [insert name here] did.  The grey Sevenberry Daisy cotton lawn is from Guthrie and Ghani.  I plan to make the simple sleeveless top from Lauren Guthrie’s book, Learn to Sew with Lauren.  I’ve had the book for a while, so it’s about time I made something from it.

Next up, some garments that will take me back to childhood.

This Alice in Wonderland fabric is from Liberty, so it was a treat.  I think the print is called Gallymoggers Reynard, and it’s to mark the 150th anniversary of the book.  I got this from Alice Caroline before I had any idea what I was going to make from it, I just loved it that much.  At first I thought it was so nice that I wanted to make something fancier out of it, but then I changed my mind – it’s so lovely that I want to make something I can wear all the time.  I think I’m going to make another Quilting Bee dress out of it.  I’ve done some measuring up and I think that will leave me with over a metre of fabric to make something else with, maybe a top or a simple skirt.  I got this Merry Cloth Fairy Tales fabric from the Village Haberdashery.  Isn’t it lovely?  It’s a cotton linen blend, which probably means it’s going to be a terribly prone to creasing, which is a shame.  I don’t care – I love the print so much, and hopefully the front will remain less crumpled.  Or I’ll just wear it to events where I can just stand in a corner not really doing a great deal.  I think I’m going to make a dress with a fitted bodice and a gathered skirt from this.  There might be some pattern matching involved, which will be interesting.  The red, purple and blue cottons are from my local fabric shop, Dainty Supplies.  These are going to be used to recreate Pam Ferris’ Peter Pan skirt from Children in Need’s Great British Sewing Bee.  All I need to do is come up with an idea for how to get the London skyline onto the bottom.  I think she used felt on the show, but I’m not sure that will wash well so I’m wracking my brains for other ideas.  You’re probably picking up on a definite theme here – I love fairy tales and children’s books.

And finally…

The denim is what remains from my first ever skirt and, as I mentioned in my Baggy Trousers post, I’m hoping to hack Colette’s Juniper pattern to make some shorts for my holiday.  I want to use the red cotton drill (from Plush Addict) to make a Miette skirt, also a Tilly pattern.  I’ve traced off the pattern for this, but nothing else yet.  The blue and white cotton is a fat quarter that came free with an issue of Love Sewing magazine.  I’m going to use this trial a pair of espadrilles!  How exiciting!  I mean, making your own shoes?  On a budget?  What a discovery!  I got the Prym soles from Guthrie and Ghani, and now I just need to invest in some extra strong thread of some description.  These would also be ideal to take on holiday with me.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous if I could scrabble together seven handmade items to take away with me?  One for each day we’re away.  Oh, my goodness – did I just make another little resolution there?  🙂

Anyway, that’s my stash 🙂  I really do need to start working through all of it, as I have a few too many projects to work on.  And that’s not including the alteration projects I have planned (remember the kilt?) or all the leftovers I have left from previous projects.  I’m hoping to make my espadrilles, my shorts and a top or two first.  I’ve made a few dresses and skirts now, but no tops – I’m feeling the need to balance it out a bit.  Plus, it would be nice to have a top to take on holiday to wear with my shorts.

Of course, fellow crafters will understand that all these plans are subject to much change.  Must.  Have.  Willpower.  😉

Quick question: am I still allowed to buy patterns and books even if I’m not buying fabric?