another project blossoms!

So this project was supposed to be started AFTER I finished the skirt I had originally purchased the fabric for. This was the “use up the scraps” idea I had when, as per usual, I saw there was an opportunity to make (a little) something extra. My original skirt pattern is all cut out. Then it ground to a halt.

In the intervening period I have gone on holiday, returned home, got a nasty cold, had a weekend away and been madly busy at work. My little brain had hardly any functioning power left at the end of each day and I wanted something I could still “do” without fitting worries. Hello little dress project. It got bumped up the queue.

I am intending to use the same pattern (Simplicity 1207) again later in the year as I have bought fabric to make the coat option, and will make a matching dress. So I thought this would be a good trial run. I increased the size to a 5 (it only goes up to 4) and made a few alterations.

* used an invisible zipper
* I didn’t have enough fabric from the scraps to cut the front skirt on the fold so it has a centre front seam
* due to fabric constrains reduced the hem allowance by 5mm. I’m glad I did as this is deep enough and I can see any more and you would have had to have eased it in more
* added rick rack decorative trim
* added bias binding to the raw hem edge, both as a finish and to give the hem more body as the fabric needed some support to prevent it being too floppy.
* used french seam finishes apart from the sleeves. Bound the bodice/dress hem in bias binding to prevent fraying.

I felt the colour blocking worked well, but left the hem area looking a little plain. After some pondering I decided to go with rick rack and chose colours which matched with the flowers in the bodice. It’s a shame the dress didn’t include more of a polished finish for the inside of the bodice, but by adding the above details it now looks pretty nice. This is my first time making scallops. They are pretty, but tricky to get symmetrical. I had to do some revisions before they turned out ok.

Tomorrow I am hosting a sewing afternoon with friends, so hope to finally get cracking on the skirt. I have fallen slightly off the wagon and got some more fabric today (it was on offer, sigh) which is a nice cotton stretch light weight denim to make another skirt. At this rate my wardrobe will have a nice selection. Plus hopefully I will be better at making them!



bound to be more work – bear with me

I have this bad habit of being unable to pass up rescuing leftover fabric. I can’t allow it to go to “waste”. So, when cutting out my previously reviewed purple skirt, I quickly calculated there was going to be some left over. Out came the children’s patterns and a vintage Burda, with careful pattern piece placement, just fit within the amount available. At this point my carefully planned project took a detour. Feel free to wince.

In my defence, I did read through the tightly crammed text to try and understand the construction and notions. It said there was a zip. I didn’t cut the back on the fold. When looking later more closely at the back pattern piece it said to cut on the fold. Oh dear. I also subsequently discovered I was supposed to add seam allowances (the pattern didn’t mention this!).

The result, is a dress with heaps of bias binding to make up for lack of seam allowances, my first project, bar making lingerie, where the whole thing was sewn with a 6mm seam allowance, a DIY modesty panel, and instead of trying to follow the instructions I did my level best to ignore them. Not my usual approach! The finished result, whilst cute, has sorely tested my patience. I think this is my first and last vintage Burda. I don’t have the perseverance to deal with this kind of stuff!


Another difference to the pattern is that the bodice I made has a full lining, including the sleeves. I thought this was more comfy that just a facing. I am pleased to say I didn’t buy anything new for this project, it all came from my stash!

The following is actually a project from last year, which was too big for the (than little) recipient. When the little boy I made this for had finally grown in to it he had started walking, so I had to cut the feet off. The onesie still looks pretty cute though! It’s made from stretch terry cotton which makes it very soft. It did create loads of fluff though when sewing. This is Simplicity 1767. At least I can say I gained some more experience sewing stretch fabric.


I am about to cut out my next project, a pencil type skirt with back vents using up some more stash fabric. This time some home decoration type cotton that was given to me by a friend in a floral print. I intend to make it more interesting with piping. Watch this space, hopeful it will be less hassle than the above!…

A fit that didn’t skirt

I happily got started on Newlook 6106, another A-line with more flare than the last version.

The fit was off and very weird. I flat pattern compared measurements with another A-line skirt I had just made. Instead of my usual size 16 fit the ease/size was much bigger. I went down a size to a 14.

After trying on the skirt with all the seams sewn (but not the waistband) it was STILL too big. I took it in at the side seams by another cm (so 4 in total for the circumference) from the waist and graded to the size 14. Finally, it fit better.

Imagine my shock when adding the waistband (cut down to a 14 as well as I thought there was no way a 16 would fit) when I discovered it was too small! I had to use 5mm seam allowance. Luckily this was just enough space.

The corduroy is slightly thicker than recommended. I was worried it wasn’t flaring out under the weight. Luckily, my seam finishing technique (bias binding) helped enormously and by the time I had flipped the hem over it recovered it’s bounce.

The waist band facing is made from a plain cotton. I used a very sturdy interfacing (I think part of my past skirt disappointment is from not using thick enough interfacing) which created a thin but stiff band. I also used my overlocker to safely trim close to the seam to minimise bulk.

I’m very happy with the result, but still puzzled by the fit. I think fitting closely around my waist and upper hips is more flattering and I plan to do this more in future. I just need to wait for the weather to warm up……


A line(d) result

Despite my earlier concerns that my newly finished skirt would be immediately relegated to winter storage it has had an appearance today, along with some tights as the weather has turned chilly.

I am very pleased to report it was both warm, comfortable and cycle friendly.I think, after wearing it all day, it is more a cross between an A-line skirt and a pencil skirt given the hem width. The lining made it very practical with tights and I was thrilled with the waist. It didn’t slide down and dig in. Something that normally happens with clothing usually.

So, here I am wearing the skirt, forgive the slight horizontal crease marks, they have been accumulated from a day spent sitting in front of a desk at work and my nice neighbour took some photos of me after I returned home.

Having been properly inspired by this experience I have now cut out another A-line skirt (with more flare at the hem) from simplicity 6106 using a purple pin corduroy. Using the above skirt as an example to check fit I feel more confident that I am on the right track. I don’t hunk – given this is a summer skirt, that it will be fully lined. But having just bought some more unpressed bias binding (bright yellow for contrast!) I think some more hong kong finish will be used…..

A for effort?

If you have been following my posts for the last months you must have wondered when I was going to return to making adult sized clothing, given my recent tendency to make pint sized versions of outfits. Fear not, today’s post is something made for me. It is ridiculously out of season given the temperature is finally above 15 degrees, but when has logic been a centre piece of my sewing choices?

There are some reasons behind my decision to make this particular item. I have mentioned my stash busting aim and this fits neatly into this goal. How to make use of fabric with out getting too bogged down in a long project. A while ago, after making a skirt to go with the jacket to my sister’s wedding I had been enthused about skirts and bought some more fabric to make another pencil skirt.

Subsequently, I decided after wearing the version I had already made this was Not A Good Idea. Pencil skirts do not allow you to stride about, and are certainly not cycle friendly, which is my mode of transport to work. So my lovely herringbone wool languished in the stash pile.

I then decided to revisit this piece of fabric and reconsider my options. An A-line skirt seemed a good idea, allowing freedom of movement, appealing to my aesthetic and suiting  my more pear shaped figure. The pattern box was duly rummaged through. Happily, I had a vintage pattern from the 70’s picked up for a bargain which included an A-line skirt with minimal darts (didn’t want to have anything too bulky with the wool).

It’s since undergone some modifications! here is a list:

  • shortened by 11cm (can’t believe the length, normally they are too short!)
  •  increased the waist from size 28 inches to more like mine
  • modified the waistband so it had a facing instead of a turnover and colour blocked it with the main skirt
  • added a lining
  • reduced the depth of the hem to 4 cm instead of 5.75 and slightly increased the depth of the waistband as I didn’t want it to roll
  • added interfacing to the waistband (hard to believe this wasn’t in the instructions)

I also, in an effort to make this a really polished item, spent extra effort on finishing everything off nicely. So, to stop the seams fraying madly, I applied a hong kong finish, overlocked everything else to minimise bulk, top stitched the waist band to get everything to lie flat, and used lining fabric for the waistband facing.

I just have to add the zip, and then its done! I am feeling pretty pleased with the result. It just goes to show the extra time and work does pay off. So, here’s what it looks like so far.The bright red at the back is where the zip needs to be added, and won’t be visible once this has been inserted. Oh, the lining is from a bargain I got where it was only a few pounds a meter. I bought something like 6 meters of the stuff and haven’t had much use for it since. Nice to have a fitting project for it, it’s very good quality.


line up – it’s time to view another project!

So, I’ve repeatedly promised to share the silk shirt I was working on over the last few posts. I was putting off the dreaded button holes. No matter how I practice in advance, something always seams to go wrong on the real thing. Happily only one and half button holes required unpicking this time round. A good interfacing does appear to make this an easier process if you are using a delicate fabric.

May I introduce Burda 9792, a nice design but as usual I didn’t like their instructions. They let you leave the neckline seam exposed. Not good! so, some design changes were required. After discovering the collar was going to be too small due to accidentally cutting at the wrong fold line (blaming Burda for this, no other pattern company changes the fold line for different sizes) I bound the unpicked side seams to create the extra width required.

I also ditched the flaps for the pockets and bound the tops, I also bound the armholes (the silk frayed really badly), turned over the edges and top stitched all the seams  and worked really hard to get everything to line up in terms of the pattern on the silk fabric. I feel like I have done a proper job getting this to look professional in terms of finish and feel more confident about working with fabric in future which has a pattern on it.

So, check out my finished work! (yes, that is the most awful pun, I know)….



snap! pairing up the fabric

I’ve talked about my stash. Specifically reducing said stash. I have tried hard (ok, I succumbed and bought some lovely plum wine cotton, but it was £2.99/meter!) to use up some of the smaller pieces floating around. It appears the only way I can let go is the hard way. by making something with it.

I have now however, got through all the pretty, little, pieces of cotton I had. I have also, courtesy of hosting my second ever sewing afternoon (6 people!) actually tidied up some of my sewing supplies. I finally have got all my thread in one place. Given I intend to this on a monthly basis this will be an excellent motivator to keep things more in order.

Although I didn’t get much sewing done during the afternoon it was lovely to have people over and to share our enjoyment of making things as well as eating some home made scones (I also love baking). I’ve got my next one planned for May.

So, this is a short update compared to some but I do have finished projects to share so here we are, a free pattern from Shwin designs. I still need to take a picture of the third dress but these two give you an idea. I added snaps to the back instead of buttons as an easier closure option for a small baby. These are for a work colleague’s little girl.

The dress on the left is from leftover fabric from a dress made earlier for myself and is all the way from China from my holiday there.

a previous catch (up)

So, while I am trying to finish my latest project (child’s silk shirt, can’t find the dratted front pattern piece for the button hole markings) I thought it might be fun to share a previous finished article.

I never did photograph the item in question, and I now not only have an image, but one of it being worn (which is even better, right?). If you have read this blog for a while, you might remember, long, long ago, I made a dressing gown out of cotton flannel for a friend’s little girl. I liked it so much when another friend had a little boy I decided to make it again.

The dressing gown design comes from Newlook 6170, it’s got  a great selection of PJ options as well. To make it a bit more fun, I used a fish print flannel for the facings and collar. Whilst in the midst of sewing I received an update at the speed of which the little recipient was growing, resulting in a swift mid sew modification. I added cuffs to the sleeves and added a facing to the hem to make it that bit longer.

Happily several months later it still fits! and here it is….I cut some of the fish pattern pieces on the cross grain to ensure everything swam in the right direction.


the pitter patter of more little (project) steps

Sometimes it feels like it takes a long time before all the pieces come together and the end project materialises. At other times several projects finally all get completed at the same time. Today is one of those occasions, and its satisfying to be able to say – they’re done!

So Burda 9462 has been made once more (I made it a while back previously) but this time fully lined and with no appliqué. I actually cut this out years ago but never got round to finishing it. Long story. The hand made (as opposed to shop bought) bias tape is pretty fiddly to make and sew, but gives a nice contrasting finish. I also changed the fastening to velcro. More practical for a growing child in terms of fit in my view.



I have also made both the jacket and dungarees for Burda 9450. Both patterns are cute. But seriously could have been improved. The jacket didn’t come with a facing or any interfacing for the front so was very floppy, and due to the crossover section the hem dragged for the covered front as there was no support in terms of fastening. I had to add velcro and interfacing to fix these issues. I am happy now, but annoyed with the pattern.

The dungarees didn’t have the best of instructions either for working out the position of the button holes. I added the leg cuffs so they can be used to create some extra growing room. I decided to add red bias tape (I have a huge reel of the stuff which is unpressed) which worked really nicely in tying the colour blocked fabric together.

Burda create cute designs, but I often feel their instructions and construction technique let them down. Still, I can celebrate the stash is diminished yet a little further! My friend’s baby is now also getting a respectable wardrobe to grow in to:)


So, there is one more little project to sew up, a small shirt out of a short section of left over silk from another long ago project (am determined to tackle the older sections of stashed fabric) which will be good practice for technique as well as being pretty. Then I am considering making some PJ’s out of the paisley cotton fabric I brought back from China. I have to make use of it at some point right?

I know, I have some other projects to finish. I am so easily diverted. But it’s finally getting sunnier and I have been good at finishing some of them!


another project tied up

I’ve been away for another week so haven’t had a chance to do much more sewing  However, I have been committed to decreasing The Stash (as mentioned earlier). So the easiest way to do that is by creating quick projects.

That for me means children’s clothing, as I don’t have to worry about adjusting patterns, altering for fit or anything too complicated. In short, it’s a bit like baking. It’s still a nice cake, but hasn’t got all the icing, filling or candles added.

So, this is the first post of four patterns. I’ve still got to add some finishing touches to the other three before taking photos. It had the added bonus of being a free pattern (Made by Rae, link to pdf here: ).

A work colleague is expecting a little girl very shortly. I had some smaller pieces of fabric which were too pretty to pass up on, but way too tiny for me to do anything with for myself. Perfect. I didn’t even need a zipper of buttons! The dress is fastened with shoulder ties.

The only changes I made was slip stitch the lining to the waist seam by hand for added comfort and swap the piping with a decorative waist trim. If you want some hassle free sewing, this is certainly a contender. I still have some of these fabrics left, but at least they are now a smaller stack!



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