Burda #139 Nelly dress


I wasn’t a big fan of frills but now I love them. Isn’t this dress adorable?  It ticks all the boxes: pink, frills, elephants and teeny buttons down the back. I made this dress for my friend’s toddler having made this dress for her little sister. I used a Burda pattern – #139. It has only three pattern pieces which lulled me into thinking it was a quick sew. It wasn’t. The first hurdle was locating the pattern on the massive scribble of pattern markings which are standard on Burda pattern sheets. It didn’t help that I was doing this past midnight in bad light.Image result for burda magazine 139 girls dress 4/2014I didn’t follow the instructions from the magazine as they were patchy and because I changed the pattern slightly. I decided to sew the frill only at the front, so I shortened the frill and tacked it to the front shoulder seam before finishing the shoulders.


Sewing the frill was tricky and I basted it first before sewing it in. With the second frill I had the brainwave of drawing in my stitch line with a wash away pen. This helped with getting the stitch line even as the gathers distorted the edge somewhat. I wasn’t sure how to finish the point of the frill and the instructions didn’t go into this.  So I folded the point back on itself, trimmed it and hand sewed the bottom of the frill to the dress to hide it. I don’t think it looks too bad and the stitches hold the frills flat to the dress.


The armholes and neckline line are finished with self bias as per the instructions, which was a pain especially on such a small pattern. Facings would have been much easier and quicker. So whilst this pattern looked fairly simple, there were a lot of time consuming processes. I finished the neckline before finishing the button band as this produced a neater finish on the corners. If you’ve made Tilly’s Mathilde blouse, it’s the same method.


Check out those rows of elephants!

I used a cotton poplin from Saeeds which was easy to handle and press. It’s so lovely and cool and would make a great pair of PJs. I cut a size 98 which I guessed would be the right size for a 3 or 4 year old. I love how this turned how despite it taking double the time I thought it would. Now the hunt is on for adult patterns with frills.

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Oliver & S bucket hat and birdhouse dress


I love sewing presents for kids as the finished makes are so diddy and cute. I made this hat using the reversible bucket hat pattern from Oliver and S. This is an easy pattern and it’s FREE.


I made a small and hope this is the right size for a 2-year-old. I guessed the age with a rough calculation. Anyone else bad at remembering how old friend’s kids are?


I wanted to make a dress to match the hat and used this NL 6578 toddler pattern I’d sewn before. If you want to make a present for a little girl in a jiffy this is your go-to pattern. I think this took less time than the hat which involves some hand sewing. The size here is a 2.


It’s easy to get a professional finish with this pattern if you don’t have an overlocker. I french seamed the side seams and the bodice facing takes care of the neckline and armholes. I used a different fabric for the facing as I love to contrast prints. I only got the overlocker out to finish the edge of the facing but a narrow fold works too.


The fabrics are quilting weight cottons from Saeeds Fabrics in Walthamstow. They have a great selection of children’s fabrics. Unfortunately, I passed by a few other fabric shops on the way to the station and picked up some goodies for myself. Sorry not sorry!



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Pink clouds Bettine in jersey


The Bettine pattern is seriously addictive. Whilst I was sewing my floral version, I went through my stash to single out fabrics for further iterations. It’s such a versatile pattern and the loose style means you can use knits as well as wovens.


I found this pink jersey in a shop in Walthamstow and scored it for a jaw dropping 50p a metre. So the cost of this make was £1! I would’ve paid more as I love the print. The design reminds me of little pink clouds.


I made a few changes as I was using jersey and followed Tilly’s tips here. I cut a neckband to replace the facing and this is the neatest knit neckband I’ve done to date. The jersey pressed really well and the neckband lies nice and flat. No need for top stitching, which always freaks me out in case I mess up.


Having already made this in a woven, I knew I had to shorten the bodice further to do away with the excess bagging. I also shortened the sleeves, leaving out the cuffs and tapered the seam lines at the hips to remove the exaggerated tulip shape of the skirt. I had to do this a few times as the jersey was sagging at the side seams. I also lengthened the skirt to just above the knee. I sewed a size 4, same size as my woven version.


The one glitch I had with this was finishing the hems. I used a twin needle but I couldn’t get the tension right and kept getting a bump between the two stitch lines. So in the end I unpicked the worst of it on the sleeves and used a zig zag instead. I left the twin needle stitching on the hem as I convinced myself that it wasn’t too bad. Oh to get the same finish as RTW hems. Any tips welcome!

This dress is the perfect summer dress and I got to wear it last weekend when the sun finally made an appearance. The cotton jersey is soo soft and comfy. Bettine sewn in jersey is the secret pyjamas of the dress world.


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Floral bettine dress


Here’s something I made back in the Spring. I made this dress over a bank holiday weekend and almost finished it but was distracted by the sunny weather. Tilly’s pop over design with kimono sleeves and elasticated waist makes for instant sewing gratification. It’s a super quick sew and I could probably knock this up in a day next time.

This was meant to be a wearable toile. I know what you’re thinking, that fabric’s too good for a toile. It’s been in my stash for ages and I’d gone off it. However now that it’s a dress, I take it all back. I never wear red but this orangey shade is rather lovely. I like the print again and viscose crepe de chine has the perfect drape for this casual summer dress.


I cut a size 4 bodice and graded the skirt from a size 4 at the waist to a 3 at the hip. I assumed this was the right thing to do as I have slim hips compared to my waist measurement. However this turned out to be premature thinking as I can only just squeeze the skirt over my hips! I’m hoping there won’t be any washing shrinkage as this will render my dress unwearable. Wah!


I shortened the sleeves and bodice but left the length of the skirt unchanged. I read reports that the skirt comes up short and guess what, it does. I’m 5′ 3″ and it’s short on me! And it rides right up when you sit. Although I shortened the bodice, there is too much bagging around the waist area, especially at the back. I know this is part of the look but I prefer a less blousy silhouette as I have a short top half.


Construction was really straightforward and this is a brilliant pattern for beginners. I only came unstuck when my safety pin opened and got caught when I was feeding elastic through the casing. Lots of cursing and unpicking enabled me to free the frigging pin.

This is a great little dress and I’ve seen so many iterations on instagram. It’s also addictive and I went on to sew a knit version straight afterwards. I think the pattern works well as separates too if you lengthen the top. Anyone else sewing a Bettine?





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GBSB casual trousers


SAM_7108On top of wearing an item of handmade everyday in May, I challenged myself to make a pair of trousers by the end of the month. I confess I had intended to make a Burda pattern but the toile was an abomination and required far too many changes. So for plan B, I went with this easy pattern which I finished just before the last day of May, yay!


It’s the trouser part of the jump suit from the Great British Sewing Bee’s Fashion with Fabric book. Same pattern with just a lower cutting line for the waist. The trousers were a straightforward sew and I made very few changes to the pattern. I pegged the trousers too much, so they’re a bit tight round my calves and will stick to the original stitch line next time. I eyeballed the pattern placement and it looks great from the front but was a bit tardy with the back. But it’s at the back so out of sight and mind!


These trousers were a quick sew and I love this pull on elasticated style. Funny how tastes change. I used to associate elasticated trousers with frumpsville, polyester and beige.


I wanted a light pair of holiday trousers and used this graphic print viscose from my stash. They are perfect holiday wear and the only thing missing from them are pockets. I’m glad I got round to sewing this pattern as it’s been on my to sew list since I got the book last year. It’s now a TNT. Who knew that quick sew trouser patterns existed! I’m planning more iterations in solids for work.


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T&TB button back blouse


I fell for this whimsical deer print on a shopping spree in Ridley Road market with other sewists last year. I don’t usually go for prints like this but shopping with others often results in unexpected choices. It has a slight sheen and a gorgeous drape so I’m guessing it’s viscose crepe de chine.

SAM_7088I used Tilly’s button back blouse pattern which came free with Love Sewing magazine. I decided this would be a trial run for the Mathilde pattern which I have in my stash. I trace most of my patterns now so cutting out the Love Sewing pattern saved some time. The button back blouse is very similar to Mathilde but doesn’t have the tucks at the front.


I cut a size 4 and made my usual short bodice adjustment to the front and back pieces. I hadn’t used crepe de chine before  and it was a shifty bugger to cut. Some pieces came out a little wonky and I had to re-cut the cuffs which did not look rectangular first time round. If you’re using slippery fabric, err on the side of caution and buy more than you need. It helped to block fuse my fabric before cutting out my facings. On the plus side, it presses like a dream and my facings are nice and flat.


The major alteration I made was to the sleeve. I’ve never been sure about the bishop sleeves on the Mathilde pattern. They’re a bit Marmite and a lot depends on fabric choice. I basted on a sleeve and decided it was too full for my tastes. So I had a go at re-drafting the sleeve pattern. Fortunately I bought 2 metres of fabric, so had enough to cut another pair.SAM_6629

I slashed the sleeve from the top to the hem in four sections and narrowed the sleeve so that the side seams were roughly parallel. This distorted the hem slightly so I just re-drew the bottom curve. I think this has worked out really well and I will make more iterations using this slimmed down version.

The button back blouse has lots of processes and is a slow make. However, I found it really enjoyable working through all the different techniques. I added some gold piping to the yoke to break up the busy print. Pattern placement was non-existent and poor bambi got decapitated in places. I was in a lazy mood and barely looked at the instructions something I did NOT get away with. I sewed the button band before the neck facing so had a bit of unpicking to do. I left out the button holes and sewed on the buttons to close the back as I could get it over my head just fine.


I don’t have anything like this in my wardrobe but I think it’ll get lots of wear. I’ll probably make the Mathilde next time as I love the front pleat detail. The only changes I’d make would be to lengthen the top slightly and widen the shoulder seams. I think it’s too narrow and feels like it’s slipping. The armscye is too low so I’ll read up on how to fix this next time. I’m really pleased with this little top and love the fun print. If you subscribe to Love Sewing magazine and have this pattern, make it!

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Me Made May 2016


Self drafted skirt

I thought I’d write a post on #mmmay16 as it’s helpful to document what worked and what didn’t for next time. I challenged myself to wear an item of handmade clothing everyday AND make a pair of trousers by the end of May. I’m pleased to say I accomplished both, pause for fist pump moment. Check out Instagram to see more of what I wore.


Bettine and self drafted Mexican oil cloth bag

Being on Instagram made it so much easier to document my daily outfits. I also loved getting feedback and seeing what everyone was wearing. I failed to complete Me Made May last year as I couldn’t be bothered taking photos for the blog. I know it’s not about the pictures but documenting it on IG did help me finish.


BHL Victoria Jacket and SOI Ultimate trousers

I tried not to have too many repeats and wore stuff that doesn’t normally get a lot of love. I fell in love with a few oldies and have made mental notes to revisit some patterns. That’s the genius of MMMay, you often rediscover old gems as well as the gaps in your wardrobe.


Simplicity 2451 – must make more!

So how did I find it? I have a wardrobe full of me made clothes so it wasn’t hard to find something to wear each day. I’ve ventured into making trousers and outerwear so there was more variety this time round. I’ve added Lindens to my arsenal of Plantains and Renfrews for weekend wear. I didn’t wear many me-made outfits as my wardrobe is a riot of print and colour so definitely need to sew more solids. I wore over 20 tops so need to sew more bottoms.


Port Elizabeth top – was a bit meh about this but it got a lot of likes on IG

The patterns I want to revisit are Simplicity 2451 skirt, Simplicity 2418 cowl top and the Lisette Portfolio top. I really enjoyed the challenge this year and will definitely do it again. How did MMMay go for you?


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