Tag Archives: fabric

Sewing for your girls – review and giveaway

sewing fyg

Thanks to the lovely guys over at Tuttle Publishing I received a copy of their new title “Sewing for your girls” by Yoshiko Tsukiori, which is available in the UK from Amazon on  the 15th April 2015.

I decided to road test this book and the blouse I’ve been teasing you with is Basic Pattern #7 (catchy, no?) made up in Liberty Tana Lawn purchased from Washable Fabrics on Preston Market for a tenner.


This book is delightful.  There are 8 patterns in total, 7 of which has a basic and an applied version, which, as you’ve probably guessed, has a little more going on.   You’ll see from the photo above, which is the blouse I made, that using pattern #7 you can make an adorable blouse or a lovely summer dress.



As well as the patterns the book also has a wealth of clearly photographed advice to give you the best chance of getting a great result.


The patterns traced from printed pattern sheets that are stored in the back of the book.  A word to the wise….they don’t include seam allowances to do allow for that when tracing. Ask me how I know!!!

Given the chance I’d change a couple of things about this book, but they are only minor gripes.

So…to the blouse.  I really enjoyed sewing this one.  It’s beautifully drafted with facings to the front and armholes and bias binding to the back neckline.  The front ruffles and round collar add a sweet touch without being overly twee.  This is a good thing.  I’m not mad on ruffles but these hit the mark.

Button didn't want to do photos, so we decided that dancing was the only way forwards.

Button didn’t want to do photos, so we decided that dancing was the only way forwards.

I cut a size 120 for my 116cm tall 7 year old, based not only on height but chest measurements.


I couldn’t be happier with the result.


Button loves it too!

The details on this top are really quite lovely.


sewing_for_your_girls_9Gorgeous, no?

Now, if you, like me, have a very pernickety small girl to sew for then I suspect that you’d like a copy of this book too.  Good job I’ve got a couple of copies to give away, then! 😉

Edited to remove Rafflecopter and say…leave me a comment below to be entered into the draw!

Grainline Linden….relearning a sewing lesson.

Wadder alert!

Whilst I love sharing things that have gone swimmingly…I think it’s also good to share the stuff that doesn’t quite work.  

I’ve learnt from this project…maybe someone else will too.

::  ::  ::  ::  ::

I’ve had my eye on the Linden pattern since Grainline initially launched the pattern.


I love traditional sweatshirts but they don’t love me…I’m the wrong shape for them. Despite this I had high hopes of Linden opening up lots of opportunities for sweatshirt love.

Sadly…I don’t think it’s going to be the case.  Be warned…this ain’t pretty!

Cue massively unflattering photos.

Cue massively unflattering photos. Not helped by the sweater being dragged back by my hands…but you get the picture!

I’m going to start out by saying that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this pattern. It’s my first Grainline pattern and it’s immaculately drafted and the instructions are really clear.

This is a clear case of hope triumphing over experience.

I know that raglan sleeves aren’t the best for me because I have sloping shoulders that don’t support the top of the sleeve.

I know I need to be cautious of scooped necklines…if they’re loose then they tend to slip and slide.


I knew I needed to do a FBA and that would involve adding a bust dart.  In this case it’s still a tiny bit long and a tiny bit low.  Which would be hidden in a plain fabric but isn’t on this striped fabric.


The fabric comes from the “what the hell was I thinking pile”!

And I know I just need a bit more shape in a garment.

Whilst this is undoubtedly a trainwreck of a garment, it’s all good! This has been a great and worthwhile process for me.

Over the last year I’ve gained quite a bit of weight….you can hardly have missed it. Mostly this has been driven by medication impacting on appetite, quite a bit of it steroid based because of my repeated bouts of bronchitis and accompanying chest infections.

(Cue too many cakes and too much pasta!)

These chest problems have also severely limited my ability to exercise, as has a very frozen shoulder for the last 6 months.

My changed shape size has undoubtedly knocked my sewing mojo.  I’m not overly inclined to sew for myself at this size as I’m determined that this isn’t a permanent state of affairs. Getting back to full health/fitness is a huge priority for me.  It seems such a waste of fabric…which is frankly crazy.  I still need stuff to wear…

My judgement as to what suits me is also off at the moment.  The photos above evidence that.

However….I do know that I’m glad I tried this pattern.  I bought it on sale and the fabric was very inexpensive too.  So it was an experiment that cost me a little money, a little time, but has taught me to really trust my instincts.

If I listen to myself I know what suits me.  It comes back to the work I did with Wardrobe Architect last year.  I need to revisit this because, even with this fuller shape, the principles still apply.

So that’s what I’m going to do.  I spent some time this past week sorting fabric and patterns in my stash.  Some are to go into storage until I have my new sewing room up and running, hopefully by the end of the year.  These are mainly lovely vintage winter fabrics…I see some beautiful jackets in my Winter 2015 wardrobe.

Others are patterns that I’m planning to build my Summer 2015 wardrobe around.  I have a few fabrics that I’ve been hoarding for too long….and a pile of patterns that had me exclaiming over and over again “oh!  I’d forgotten I had that!”.

It’s time to build a plan, I think.  I’ll be back with that soon….and a much more successful make!

SOLD – Striped jersey fabric for sale

As we clear down the loft ready to put everything into a storage locker and start ripping the room to pieces, I’ve come across another large piece of  fabric that won’t ever be used by me.


This is a lightweight striped cotton jersey in navy marl and white.  The stripes are even widths and run horizontally across the fabric.


There is a lot of drape in this fabric.


It’s a lovely fabric…just not ‘me’.  Wardrobe Architect has a lot to answer for! 😉

It’s a little over 170cm wide and 3.2m in length.  Plenty to make a dress or a maxi skirt ready for summer…although you will need a slip underneath as this is lovely and lightweight and flowing.

£15.00 including UK postage and packaging.  

I’ll happily ship anywhere else…I’ll just need to get a price for the extra shipping for this.

Fabric will be shipped in a sealed poly shipping bag to keep it clean and dry.

Payment via PayPal please…just email me if your interested and I’ll send you the details. Use the little envelope button up there on the top right of the blog.



Pleated Playsuit with Cattitude


Pleated playsuit catitude-1We’re one week into the summer school holidays and revelling in the complete lack of commitments to anyone but ourselves.  Leisurely mornings give way to afternoons in the park or playing in the garden or visiting with grandparents.

Obviously crafty pursuits aren’t my priority, but even so, I managed to whip up this little playsuit for Button, which is the perfect outfit for the hot weather we’ve been having here of late.

The pattern is Elegance & Elephant’s Pleated Playsuit…a free pattern that you’d happily pay good money for.

Pleated playsuit cover

I love Heidi’s patterns, as you know, and this one is no exception. There are some adorable details:

:: elastic waist for comfort and faux piped pocketsPleated playsuit catitude-1-1

:: cute leg cuffsPleated playsuit catitude-1-2

:: shoulder tiesPleated playsuit catitude-1-3

:: inverted pleat on the front bodicePleated playsuit catitude-1-4This is one of those fabulously satisfying makes that is super simple to sew, but looks very expensive when you’ve finished.

The fabric is Lizzie House’s Cattitude which Button had loved so much when I made the Geranium dress, but this time in an almost acid chartreuse bought on sale from John Lewis.  I’d been browsing there a couple of weeks ago with no intention of purchasing fabric, but as soon as I saw this I snaffled the last metre or so with glee.

Pleated playsuit catitude-1-5

I’m so glad I did.  I just adore this little playsuit and have at least two more planned. It’s comfy, cute and modest.

Pleated playsuit catitude-1-6

What more could you ask for?


Compagnie M. Mara Blog Tour – Mara goes to Paris

When Marte announced a secret summer blog action over at Compagnie M. I didn’t have to think twice before adding my name to the list.

When I found out that the subject of our secret mission was to be the Mara Blouse, I was thrilled.


You can see my Paris inspired Mara blouse, head on over to the Mara blog now and check it out…then head on back to find out how you can win some super prizes.

Mara 8-1

Discount code:

If you’d like to make your own version of the Mara blouse, Marte is generously offering a 10% discount on the pattern from now until 17th August 2014.  Just pop over to her shop and use the code MARA-ACTION.


Once you’ve bought your pattern, why not enter your Mara in the sewalong.  There are some great prizes to be won…check them out here!  The closing date for the sewalong is 17th August 2014.

Mara 7

A note about the fabric:

Whilst we are now right at the beginning of the summer holidays, when very little in the way of sewing will take place, I wanted to be prepared for the raft of family events and parties that will take place in the autumn.  With that in mind I created a season appropriate party outfit for Button that will be equally at home at a family lunch or a school friends bash at a play centre.

My fabric choice was a complete antidote the the raft of Pepto Bismol and Acid Barbie Pink that my little miss has been choosing at every opportunity recently.  I completely pulled rank on this…I’m sewing it…I get to choose the fabric.  Total Mummy Brat moment and I’m not sorry! 😉

The Eiffel Tower fabric is from Oh Sew Crafty on eBay, and the spot from Dunelm.


I received a complimentary copy of the Mara pattern in return for my participation in the Blog Tour.  As always, all opinions are entirely my own.


Minty fresh tank top

When I first met The Husband I was living in Surrey and working in London. At the weekends (or during the week if he could swing a meeting locally) he would drive the 280-ish miles to visit (and the same home again on a Sunday night).

On the Saturday we’d do fun things…oftentimes involving taking the 25 minute train journey into London and ‘doing’ a museum or some shopping, or a long and boozy lunch.

Berwick street

And, now and again, quelle surprise, we’d find ourselves on Berwick Street and he would happily traipse in and out of fabric shops and treat me to a metre or many of lovely fabric.

One such purchase was some incredibly soft and drapey pale spearmint coloured linen.  It’s buttery texture is divine and it’s just opaque enough to maintain your modesty whilst you stay cool.  It was £20 a metre 8 years ago.  Not cheap.

And it’s sat in my stash for 8 years because I couldn’t decide what to sew with it.

Which is, quite frankly, a crazy waste of beautiful fabric.

With the new found (Wardrobe Architect motivated) spirit of sewing up or shipping out my stash fabric, it was time to bit the bullet on this an actually make something from this lovely linen, and I wanted something that I would get a great deal of wear out of over the summer months.  A dress would be lovely, but wouldn’t get the wear, so I decided on a simple tank top.

I knew I wanted a breezy and long line silhouette, a curvy hemline and some tiny tucks across the front, but couldn’t find a pattern that cut the mustard.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been banging on about making my own patterns, so, I did.


I used Simplicity 1886 as a block, traced a copy so I could scribble, cut and tape to my hearts content, and in very little time, had a pattern that I absolutely love.

green linen top 1

I made the following alterations:

:: added 1/2″ to each side seam allowance to give me a loose silhouette

:: dropped the neckline by about 1″ (ish) and scooped the neckline front and back to make it wider

:: added 2″ to the front of the blouse and 3″ to the back

:: shaped the sides to give a shirt tail effect

green linen shirt tails

:: replaced the neckline facing with a self made bias binding facing

green linen bias bound neckline

:: armholes also have a bias bound facing

:: added 6 x 1/4″ pintucks to the front of the bodice

green linen pintucks

It sounds like a lot when you write it down, but it didn’t take very long at all to do, and now I have a top that as soon as I’ve worn it, goes into the wash so I can wear it again as soon as possible.

green linen top

I adore this top and only want to make a couple of teeny tiny changes for the next one.

:: raise the front neckline by about 1/2″.  Because the top is so breezy, the neckline can be a bit precarious when I lean forwards…not cool at the school gate!

:: the darts are a bit hinky.  The fabric hides a multitude of sins, but I need to bring the bust point back a little, possibly only 1/4″, just to avoid them hitting at the wrong point and ending up, well, pointy!

:: The side seams sit slightly towards the back of centre…again you can’t really see it but I’m aware of it.  Moving them forwards just 1/2″ will solve that problem.

Very minor changes that will make the next top pretty much perfect.  Now I just need to decide what I’ll put in place of the pintucks for a different look! 😉

PS…yes…those are my red Lotta’s.  They get as much, if not more, wear than this top.

PPS…and yes, my blue one’s are here too.  😀

Selfish sewing is under way


Here’s another really great tutorial on how to do a princess seamed FBA

I had such plans for today, but by the time we’d taken the kids to grandparents, tidied up the detritus of half term and shampooed the dog (crikey, he was stinky!) it was mid afternoon.

Not to be deterred I dug out what turns out to be the only dress pattern I own for woven fabrics after my pattern clear-out.

Simplicity 1606

This pattern was kindly sent to me by Simplicity last year and a review of it is well overdue, so perhaps this is serendipitous. I’m making view C (which is reminiscent of my Giverny dress) and am really hoping this will be my go-to dress pattern for this summer, as I already have fabric for 4 versions.

Although it comes in different cup sizes I still needed to do a full bust adjustment to accommodate the girls, and followed this tutorial from the clever ladies at By Hand London.

A quick toile later and I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out.  I need to push the shoulder back a little, let out the waistline just a smidge and take in the back a little to remove the excess around my rounded upper back.  I’ve also added 3cm to the bodice length.  These are all standard alterations for me so this isn’t a big issue.

The pattern is drafted with 1″ vertical seams so there is plenty of room to play with whilst making these alterations.

So far so good.  I’m a little behind my self imposed schedule, but life does that, and I’m ready to plot up on the sofa with pasta, a movie and some knitting.  I’ll come back to this tomorrow and hopefully finalise the fit of the bodice which will also allow me to make the necessary adjustments to the skirt too.

But I’ll hazard a guess that what you really want to see is the fabric I’m going to make this up in.  Cue crappy last minute photograph:

Floral linen-1This is a stunning linen/cotton blend with a beautiful blousey floral pattern splashed across an antique white background.

I purchased this from The Buttonhole in Chorley with a gift voucher that Ma gave me for Christmas.

I’m planning to line it in white cotton as it’s a teeny bit see-through. But even if I don’t manage to finish it for Thursday, this will be a perfect dress for family lunches throughout the summer.

Ok…dinner is ready.

Fingers crossed for the tweaking tomorrow.  As opposed to twerking…which wouldn’t be a very pretty sight at all! 😉


Clearing out my (fabric) closet

There seems to be a general move towards de-cluttering in the online sewing and knitting community at the moment.

Kristin, Karen, and Andrea have all written so eloquently on the subject, that I have nothing erudite to add.

This air of spring-cleaning, coupled with my ponderings on how I’m going to renovate our home, The Husband’s new job, and the recent acquisition via my friends of some lovely fabrics have all been milling around in my head.  Throw in Colette’s Wardrobe Architect series, and you have the perfect catalyst for a fabric and pattern de-stash session.

Destash 2-1

Some of the fabrics in my stash, and the one’s from my friends, still very firmly sit within my newfound sense of what I want to sew and wear.

Some do not, even though I loved them at the time of purchase.

It’s all about the colour and the pattern, and, whilst I’m sad that I didn’t get to make them, I’m delighted with this new clarity.

So, now have a pile of fabric and patterns that need new homes.

Over the next week or so I’ll get them all photographed and priced, work out, as best as I can the fabric content, and post them here.  There might be something you’d like.

In the meantime, I need to get my act together and start some selfish sewing for me (even though I have the cutest fabrics for Button) as my summer wardrobe is non-existent, and I have no excuse now.  I also want to clear the way for the new fabrics I’m looking forward to purchasing once I’ve sewn some of the lovelies I have winking at me from the corner!


A Geranium with Cattitude

I must be the last person in the sewingverse to make one of Rae’s delightful Geranium dresses.Geranium pattern front

Our little friend Vicky turned 2 last week, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to finally bite the bullet on this pattern.  It’s available in 2 size ranges, 0-5 and 6-12, and I bought the bundle with both sizes as I suspected that a certain Ms Button would have her beady and stylish eye on this once she saw it made up.

The fabric is Cattitude in Cream by Lizzie House, purchased from M is for Make (where it’s listed as Purrfectly Happy).  Look at those little faces!  And their cheeks!  Totally adorable.

Cattitude 3

I was super impressed with M is for Make.  Not only do they have a delightful selection of fabrics, but I placed my order on Tuesday morning and the fabric was in my hot little hands the very next day.  That’s the kind of fabric service we all love, no?

Catitude 1

This is a great pattern too.  The Husband passed comment at how quickly I had made this dress.  It comes together perfectly and very quickly.  The dress is lined in white cotton lawn, which you can just see peeping out of the neckline here, and I added a lining to the skirt and hand stitched the bodice lining in place as I didn’t want a line of stitches showing on the bodice.  Even so it was done and dusted in an afternoon.

Catitude 4

The hard bit was the buttons.  I really wanted to pick out the orange on the cat’s cheeks. They do say the Devil is in the details. Thankfully the button stall on Chorley market is something of a marvel and has a good range of colours.

Catitude 2

I think they’re a really good match.

I really enjoyed sewing this little dress.  As anticipated Ms Button was dropping hints so big they could break your toes, so expect to see some more iterations of this in the very near future.

But first I’ve got her Spring Showers Jacket cut out and ready to sew.

PS…top photographic tip.  Don’t photograph a cream dress against a cream cupboard in bright sunlight as you’re dashing out of the door, already late, and with a small boy throwing the screaming ab-dabs because….well I still don’t know what that was all about.  Anyway, if you do, you’ll get super-washed out photos that even PhotoShop won’t be able to rescue.  See Exhibit A above! Sigh!


Lekela 5098 – the finished blouse

A couple of weeks ago we had a family gathering for Chinese food and I was determined to finish this blouse to wear for it.  Armed with lots of tea, plenty of episodes of The Archers on download, and the spirit of the Great British Sewing Bee, I set to.

Lekela 5098 1

I made it and despite my reservations about the pattern, I’m really delighted with the finished blouse.

We’ll ignore the fact that I’m larger than the average bear at the moment, and the hedge is in dire need of a trim, shall we?!

Oh, and the creases…I’ve been wearing this all day, including a couple of hours in the car driving to and fro!

The Fabric

This fabric was a lucky find in one of the offcuts bins at Abakhan.  It’s polyester but if you don’t look to closely it could just about pass for silk. It’s got a great drape and because they sold it by weight, it cost me about £3.  So the whole blouse, including the pattern, came in at under a fiver.

On the subject of polyester…I know it gets a bad rap, but some of my favourite RTW blouse are lightweight poly, and I have to say they suit my lifestyle perfectly. So whilst I’m still always going to love a good quality cotton, I’m not going to turn my nose up at a cute poly, especially when the result is this good.

So, what do I think of the pattern?

Well, I covered this in some detail in my previous post, but, despite the issues I had with the actual pattern, I’m really rather pleased with the results.

The instructions are hilarious.  They’ve obviously been run through an online translation and as such make Burda instructions look like War & Peace.  I had no idea what they intended me to do with the sleeves and initially sewed both marked pleats in place, only to find that I couldn’t move my arm.

10 minutes with a stitch-unpick and that issue was solved!

I should also point out that I straightened the seam-line of the sleeve to reduce some of the fullness at the cuff.

You can see where the second pleat has been released.

You can see where the second pleat has been released.

These patterns have the direct opposite of the clear and lovely instructions of such independents as Cake, Colette or Oliver + S.  So I pretty much made it up as I went along.

Bias binding for the neck opening and neckline. A bit rough and ready but I was up against the clock and not completely convinced this blouse was going to be wearable.  You only notice when you get really, really up close and personal, and The Husband is never going to criticise my stitching 😉

Lekela 5098_3

And a quick bias cuff with the bottom of the sleeve gathered slightly to fit.

Lekela 5098_4

Would I make this again?

It might surprise you, but absolutely yes!  I got many compliments on our night out, most along the line of “wow…love your blouse…where did you buy it”.  I’ll take those, thank you very much!

I really need to learn some new poses!

I really need to learn some new poses!

I’ve some beautiful lightweight cotton with a divine polka dot that I’ve been hoarding since November last year (6 metres of it…an anniversary gift from The Husband.  Reason to love him #762!)

I’m planning to add some shirring to the centre back to add a little more shaping, and to the bottom of the sleeve instead of a cuff.  I’ll probably just gather the sleeve next time although I do like the pleat, but I’m contemplating adding some pintucks to the front and moving the opening to the back with a wee button.

It’ll have to wait a little bit though.  A certain young lady has commandeered some red denim in my stash and dragged me to the sewing shop today to buy lining and notions for her own version of the Spring Showers Jacket.  Hey…it’s cheaper than a bike!