Birthday presents for the Sister-in-law!

Hello everyone! It’s been a while. It’s been a while because I have been waiting for my husband to write this blog post for months. I’ve given up hope so I’m writing it instead…

At the end of June (June!) it was my sister-in-law’s significant birthday. Paul decided to do a ‘Paul special’ and make her birthday present. I also made her something but I’ll show you that later.

Paul made his sister a folding wine stand following this tutorial  on  Woodworking for mere mortals. The video is quite entertaining actually! Anyway here is the stand…

Wine rack

It’s very cleverly designed and holds two wine glasses and a bottle of wine. Perfect for taking camping.

Wine rack 2

I’m afraid I can’t tell you many details about it because I didn’t make it! I think it’s made of oak. Wine rack 3

As you can see it has a great big metal spike that sticks into the ground. Then there is a wooden wedge that, when assembled, supports the wine bottle.  It’s a little clearer in the picture below.

Wine rack 5

Paul had to make some adjustments to the pattern. In the original the holes for the wine glasses were the same size as the hole for the bottle. All of our glasses would fall straight through and they’re not exactly small! It was an easy fix though.

Wine rack 4

The rack folds up neatly when not in use and can be carried with the handle. The handle is also useful to hang it when stored.

So that’s the wine stand. I also made her the Archer shirt from Grainline Studios. She knew this one was coming because I made her try on my version (here) for size. Luckily it fitted her perfectly. This meant that I didn’t have to retrace the pattern pieces! Yay! However, I did trace out the front because before this I had only made up the popover version and I wanted to do the button up version for her. I did originally make it with the long sleeves that come with the pattern but I got so confused with sewing them. The wrong side of the fabric is exactly the same as the right side and I ended up sewing two left arms with the plackets back to front! It was a total mess. However, it was June and who needs a long sleeved shirt in June? I just lopped the sleeves off and they look fine. I’ve only got the one photo I’m afraid. My sister in law wasn’t too keen on the idea of modelling it for the blog!

Archer shirt

Apart from the sleeve debacle (and a minor accident with an overlocker knife) I was pleased with how this turned out. The pattern matching took a while – I’m determined to make a plain Archer one of these days! The cutting out takes the longest time!

The fabric was a lovely cotton with a slightly brushed feel that I got from Fabworks but I can’t find it on their website now. I finished the hem and the sleeve hems with bias binding which gives it a lovely finish. The whole thing was finished with one of my labels which I hardly ever remember to add!

Anyway, the recipient was very pleased with her presents and we were very pleased with our efforts!



Simple Sew Zoe Dress

A near identical post has already appeared on the Simple Sew blog. You can read it here!

Hello! My Simple Sew make for this month is a nice and easy one! It’s the Zoe dress & top.

Simple Sew Zoe 1

I made this just before going on my holiday to Fuerteventura. I thought that a simple throw-over dress would be perfect to take with me to wear over my tankini. So that’s what I’ve made!

I chose a grey chambray fabric from Boyes (a local department store) and I think it was perfect for this project. The star of the show for this make though is the top-stitching. I have some pink top stitching thread which I’m saving for a pair of me-made jeans. I knew I had enough to squeeze this make out of it too. The Zoe dress is a great project to try if it’s your first time with contrast top-stitching thread. Just remember that your bobbin has your standard thread in it, i.e.the same thread you’ve used to construct the actual garment!

The Zoe dress is a very simple pattern. There are two back pieces and two front pieces and these join to create a centre front and centre back seam. These seams get highlighted with top-stitching.

To make sure my top-stitching was nice and neat I actually used my ‘stitch in the ditch’ foot for my sewing machine. It has a blade running down the centre of it which you position in a seam allowing you to sew straight in there. I nudged the needle over to one side so I could get neat top-stitching parallel to my seam line. Hopefully you can see it in the photo below.

Simple Sew Zoe 2

For the top-stitching I increased the stitch length to 3.5.

Simple Sew Zoe 3

Two parallel lines of stitching!

The neckline has a facing which you stitch on with a 1cm seam allowance and flip over. You then top stitch 3cm away from the neckline. Not only does this look good but it also catches the facing so it stays put and doesn’t flip over. Just to make sure that I’m accurate I like to draw on the stitching line. I use an iron-off pen for this. These are so useful but you sometimes get ghost lines on some types of fabric when you iron the pen off. As I was going over this line with thick stitching I wasn’t too worried about it.

Simple Sew Zoe 4

I tend to use whatever ruler comes to hand!

Simple Sew Zoe 5

Drawn on and ready to stitch!

Here’s a close of the neckline and the centre front seam in situ!

Simple Sew Zoe 7

I followed the instructions exactly and they were pretty good. There was no confusion at all. Just remember that the sleeve bands also attach to the dress with a 1cm seam allowance. That’s not stated in the instructions but it is stated on the pattern itself.

The one change I made was to shorten the dress. It came out a lot longer than I was expecting it to, so I lopped a good 20cm off the bottom of the dress. As I’m using it for hot and sunny climes I thought short was good!

Simple Sew Zoe 8

The dress is loose-fitting and you want it to be. I am slightly between sizes with Simple Sew patterns. As a size 14 can be a bit too big I cut a size 12. I probably could have done to size up as I do need to wriggle around to get the dress on and it is a smidge too tight across the bust but it fits nicely everywhere else.

Simple Sew Zoe 9

Simple Sew Zoe 10

So what do you think? I really like my new dress and I think it will be so useful! A perfect day dress for summer, but add a polo neck underneath, some thick tights and a pair of boots and you’ve also got a perfect autumn dress too!


How to do Fashion – #no. 8 Svaneke

There are many indie pattern companies that I have yet to try and I have a number of patterns from them in my stash. I was having difficulties choosing a ‘new to me‘ pattern for the Monthly Stitch challenge. I was thinking originally about the Nettie Bodysuit from Closet Case Patterns (yes, I have yet to sew a single thing from this company) but my lack of working overlocker put paid to that idea. I then remembered the pattern I received from my #stitchingsanta parcel. It is from IPM sponsor How to do Fashion.

The patternI was given the #no. 8 Svaneke pattern and thought this was perfect for the challenge. The pattern includes a simple gathered skirt and two tops. I went for variation 1, a button up blouse with a flat collar and a peplum. I always need smart blouses for work and I thought this would fit the bill perfectly.


The pattern comes in lovely packaging and it is printed on thick paper. However, it is printed two sided so you have to trace. Also, it does not come with instructions. You have to go to the website to get those. The instructions are on the brief side but I followed them ok and everything worked, so they must be good!

Fabric and notions: Isn’t the fabric gorgeous?


It is a lovely lightweight cotton lawn that I bought a few months ago from Fabworks. It’s called Dark Side of the Moon and I’m afraid it’s sold out. I must have got the end of the bolt because I ordered the last metre and I received about a metre and a half. Thanks Fabworks! I bought it without a project in mind, I just had to have the fabric. This pattern works perfectly with it. I also needed 5 buttons.

Alterations/design changes:  For my dress in the last challenge, I said that it was the first time I had to carry out an FBA on a pattern. Well apparently I have big boobs because I definitely had to another FBA for this. Thankfully I made a toile (in a UK size 12) and found the fit was lovely across the back and shoulders but wouldn’t close across the bust. The FBA was straightforward to do but this make took a little time to get going because of all the fitting work.  I also found that the bust dart was far too high. I had to lower it by a whole inch!


Other issues: Apart from my own incompetence I didn’t really have any issues. Everything was going swimmingly until I realised how little time I had left to get this project finished (the deadline was last Friday but it gets published on the Monthly Stitch site first). I ended up unpicking a buttonhole twice which was such a pain. The first time it was on a wonk, the second time I managed to get the blouse caught underneath it. It was painstaking to unpick but that’s what happens when you rush.

The only other (non) issue was that this pattern comes with 1cm seam allowances rather than the usual 1.5cm. Some people prefer this but I like a bit of leeway with my seam allowances. However, setting in the sleeves was easier with the smaller allowances.


I’m so pleased with the fit I’ve managed to achieve with this blouse. I have no gaping across the bust at all. It’s also given the illusion that I have an hour glass figure with the tight waist and the peplum. Rather than darts it has pleats at the front and back which gives a lovely billowing top!





I really like my new top. It’s really pretty without being too girly. I love the pleats – it makes a nice change from the usual darts. It’s also very comfortable to wear and I have full movement in my arms which I don’t have in so many of my woven makes. Regardless of where this project came for this challenge (which was nowhere!), I have got a lovely new top out of it. That’s what it’s all about isn’t it?


Camí/Lilou mashup dress

Hi everyone! It’s that time of year again – Indie Pattern Month over on the Monthly Stitch and I’m joining in again for the second year. There is a challenge a week for the month of July. The first challenge is ‘dresses’.  Now I’m not normally a ‘dresses’ kind of person (although they are fun to make!) but there was one dress that I wanted to go back to because my first attempt had quite a lot of mistakes in it.

The pattern: The Camí dress by Pauline Alice. My very first Camí dress was submitted for a Monthly Stitch challenge a couple of years ago. You can read all about it here. I went for view A this time around.


Fabric and notions: I picked up the fabric recently at a car boot sale and it didn’t even make it to the stash. It’s a duvet cover that I bought for £3 and it has cassette tapes and record players on it.

tape deck fabric

One side is just black and white and has smaller tapes and tape decks on it. This is the side I used for this project. The other side of the cover has larger record players on it and at first glance it looks as if it’s covered in boobs! I didn’t want to risk any dodgy print placement with this! I’m not sure what I’m going to use this side for – any kind of top is out! I’ll probably use it as toile fabric.

Like many duvet covers, it’s just a cheap polycotton but it sewed up well and pressed well. It also doesn’t crease too easily so this type of fabric is ideal for this kind of day dress.

Other notions included an invisible zip which I found in my stash. It’s not the best quality so I’m not expecting it to last. I’ve also used 7 buttons which were also in my stash. They came from a market stall in Amsterdam.

Alterations/design changes: When I first made the Camí dress a couple of years ago I put in a lot of work to get the fit right. When I originally made a toile, it was far too tight although the fit was good through the back and the shoulders. There was just no way I could get my waist and boobs in there – it was far too small! The toile was a size 40 (UK 14). This was the only dress/top pattern that I’ve ever needed an FBA on. I worked out that I needed a good inch in the boob area.  The bodice pattern only has waist darts but carrying out an FBA created a bust dart. I’m sure there are ways of carrying out FBAs without adding bust darts but I don’t know them, and this worked for me anyway.

before and after pattern

I also graded out the waist to a size 44 which is the largest size (depressing) and it’s still snug if I’m honest. The other change I made was to lengthen the bodice by and inch and in hindsight it probably didn’t need such a large adjustment. But it looks fine.

The final alteration was to swap the gathered skirt for a pleated one. The skirt I used was from the Lilou dress pattern from Love at First Stitch. Technically this is not an eligible pattern for the challenge because it comes from a sewing book. I won’t tell if you won’t!  I also omitted the pockets. As much as I love pockets, inseam pockets just flap around in an irritating way once you’ve got your phone and keys in there so I’d rather not bother!

Pattern instructions:  The instructions for the Camí dress were brief and to the point. There wasn’t much in the way of hand-holding, although if you want your hand held you can go to the sew-along here. I never used the sew-along but it looks quite thorough. I found I could get on just fine with the instructions that came with the pattern. The Lilou part of the dress was so easy I didn’t bother with the instructions at all but I have made this dress before (here) and the instructions are excellent. Perfect for beginner sewists!

Other issues: The only thing I would say is if you are thinking of making the Camí dress for yourself then I really recommend you do a toile of it first. Just the bodice and one of the sleeves would be fine. Compared to other patterns, this one comes out small. I found it small across the bust, small at the waist and tight in the arms (not enough to change the arms though!).


The only other issue that I had (nothing to do with the pattern) was that I did not have enough fabric to cut out one large back skirt. I’ve had to cut two halves and have a centre back seam. The bodice doesn’t have a centre back seam so I knew this wasn’t ideal. It looks fine though. Oh and the print on the front of the skirt is upside down! In order to fit the pattern on the fabric either the back or the front would have to be upside down but I wish I did it on the back. Whoops!

In summary: Being a shirt dress, this is a fairly involved project with a lot of steps. None of the steps are particularly difficult though. The Camí pattern is rated an intermediate pattern which I agree with. That’s because you have a collar and stand to assemble, a side invisible zip and buttons and button holes. There are also sleeves to ease in. So not really a beginner make but definitely something to move on to if all you’ve done is sew basic garments.


I do like my new dress and I much prefer this shape to my original gathered skirt Camí. I also like the quirky fabric, and I don’t normally do ‘quirky’. I’m usually drawn to stripes or checks but I must admit that is was so nice not to have to pattern match.


I finished all seams on my overlocker but I think this project killed it. I think the knives are blunt from previous projects with thick fabric and it no longer cuts properly. The whole machine juddered when I used it on this project and it refused to overlock more than two layers of fabric. I’m waiting for the sewing machine repair place to get back in touch with me but it looks like I won’t be able to use it for the remaining IPM challenges which will slow me down. I’ll stick to woven fabric though (my sewing machine hates knit fabric) and we’ll see how I get on.


Unfortunately my dress did not get shortlisted but never mind, it’s on to the next challenge. I’ve nearly finished my next garment but as the deadline is 11pm tonight and I have to go to work I’m leaving it right to the last minute as usual!



Parrot Costume

My son Bryn has his annual cub scout holiday camp this weekend and they are having a fancy dress party on Saturday night. The theme for the fancy dress is ‘pirates’ but my son wants to go as Long John Silver’s parrot, Captain Flint (I had to Google the name).

It was quite a luxury to have a little bit of time to think and plan my strategy, but still I wanted it to be a quick and easy make. Continue reading

The end of #MMMay17

Ooops, I’m a bit late in writing this one! On Monday (22nd – I told you I was late) I wore my Charlotte skirt from By Hand London. I did shorten this one significantly because I couldn’t be bothered to deal with the split at the back! You can read about mine here. Continue reading