Busy Bees at Embroidery Night

Norwich Sewcials sewing meet-up took place last week and we were treated to an embroidery demo by one of our very talented ladies, Linda, a long standing embroidery aficionado and all round thread addict it seemed!  

For those of us who had never given this a go, but had been tempted in by all those lovely embellished jeans that are around at the moment, this was the perfect chance to learn some of the basics.

What a wonderful crew!
We covered stem stitch (green stem), lazy daisy (lilac) and a french knot (yellow), as well as satin stitch (green leaves) and a 'rose' technique (top left) in order form little flowers! Here is my rather lame attempt... It's a daisy with petals munched by a caterpillar. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

It was a very enjoyable evening and so nice to give something new a try...although I have discovered a massive impatience with trying to tread all those strands. Never the less we persevered!

For a while I had been a bit obcessed with sewing a bee...and I mean I was talking about this 6 months ago. I have no idea why I didn't just try it - it's like I was trying to put man on the moon or something rather than sew a bit of cotton on to another bit of cotton. Therefore complete lack of skill and pure brazen ignorance of the techniques prevailed... to produce this!

I think he's quite cute. I used a rayon thread which apparently was a massive faux pas - as you can see it went very fuzzy, slipped all over the place and doesn't look particularly neat on the other side. None the less its this side we're looking at so I think that's fine. To make matters slightly worse - and all you embroiderers out there are going to hit your head on a desk - I covered the entire thing in Fray Check after as I didn't trust by stitches not to fall right out!

I haven't worn this yet so I must see if it stands up to a bit of wear and tear and a wash! I don't know if its cute or I look like I work at a children's creche. Will try and style it out!

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True Bias - Lodo Dress

Following with the theme of sewalongs - Kelli from True Bias recently started a mini-sewalong to her latest release, the Lodo Dress.

FYI - the glowing whiteness above is a British person coming out of winter after not seeing the sun for some time. Do not be alarmed. I am also misleadingly wearing sunglasses - it is neither hot nor sunny (yet we keep the faith). However, sunglasses means not wading through 3000 pictures for one where my eyes are not shut! I digress...

As soon as I saw this pattern hit social media it was a winner in my eyes! That is my idea of a perfect dress - clean, simple, comfortable but oooohhh such beautiful little details to make it remarkable. (Those woven facings!)

Within minutes I had the PDF downloaded and taped up - which FYI took all of 5 minutes as the pieces are already printed to fit each other ie no cutting involved!

The dress has a couple of options - a very classy looking midi which looks beautiful in black and also a shorter version without back walking slits. As much as I love the midi version and will no doubt make it - I'm on a stash busting mission and only had enough fabric for a shorter version! As fate would have it, I found a leftover piece of striped ponte (bought from Minerva Crafts) from my Sointu project which was the exact size of the pattern! (Seriously, when does that ever happen)

I made the dress in little 15 minute bursts over the course of a few days but you could whip this bad boy up in a couple of hours start to finish I reckon.

The dress does have a back seam however I omitted this in the interests of not making stripe-matching life more difficult than it needed to be.

Using the chart I cut a size 8 bust, 10 at the waist and 14 at the hip and suprisingly it worked without looking crazy curvy as sometimes happens. I think for next time I would go to a 10 at the bust just to give a little more comfort room and avoid slight pull lines at the arms which occurred.

Let's move on to THE best feature of this stretch dress - the non-stretch facings!! The arms and neckline are stable and don't need any give so Kelli as designed this lovely feature of a woven bindings that sit perfectly against the dress. What I adore about this is that you have a secret little design on the inside - a personal touch which anyone else will rarely see but you know is there :)

Again on a stash busting mission - I used some ladybird print cotton to make the facings (and turned the rest into bias binding). Pretty insides!!

Needless to say this pattern has also reached my top favourites list - now if only there was enough fabric for one in every colour.....

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Gertie's B6453 Sundress Sewalong

Well hello strangers...it's been a while.

Nearly a month has passed since I last posted anything (this little dog jacket by the way) and even that was a scheduled post... I'll not get into it but this month has been less than fabulous and that's an epic understatement. It's also strange how we sometimes don't do the things that are good for us in the times we need it most. Not only is sewing a hobby but my stupid brain also forgot its healing mindfulness properties as well - so back on the bandwagon we get and creativity is the way forward.

Enter my latest girl crush Gretchen Hirsch and this beast of a pattern.

Last year I searched high and low for the perfect sundress but to no avail, however not too long ago Gretchen Hirsch solved this mystery and set the sewing world on fire with B6453 - which if anyone else has been following on the Facebook Group, can see that it's got out of control! People are making hundreds of these!
 If you take a look at the line drawings the design of this is gorgeous. Princess seam bust, fitted darted back, amazing soft V backline, lapped vintage-look zipper and the option of two skirts (view A has pockets people). Best of all in my book - the straps have adjustable sliders!!! No more straps falling off my one weird shoulder! (I may steal this method for the Ogden Cami)

The sewalong really did go into a lot of detail and for this I was thankful as some of the construction was quite fiddly and complicated, despite the simple look of the dress. However, all the separate elements and effort go towards making this a lovely wearable piece.

Muslin tests were recommended and I'm so glad I took the time to do this. The sizing is crazy and Gertie herself told everyone not to bother with the packet. Butterick has 2.5" of ease around each seam!! If I'd have gone with the packet size, I would have been an 18 or 20. It was recommended that the finished measurements on the separate pattern pieces should be used as a size guide instead, I THINK I cut a 14 but in all honesty I can't remember now as I did this quite a while ago, and I took it in a bit as well when fitting.

 Surprisingly the bodice fit with little trouble! I just had to taper down from under the arm slightly to get a snugger fit and avoid a bit of arm gaping. Oddly it was the skirt that was a nightmare. I just could not get that SOB to fit my shape. First it was too small and tight so I added width to the hips; it then pooled fabric everywhere so I tried out a Full Butt Adjustment; which was then too big - it was like Goldilocks and the 3 Pencil Skirts. In the end I cut a giant version and had to just pin and fit it everywhere then cut up the muslin to trace a pattern piece. The skirt is a little roomy however I prefer that as I can actually sit down comfortably!

The fabric here is an anchor print black viscose from The Textile Centre via eBay which is beautifully soft and drapey for summer. I found the bra strap rings and sliders from eBay in gold, although there are some rose gold ones on there that look wonderful too.

 This is far from perfect as I struggled with the soft viscose and lapped zip - more stability required next time (or just sub an invisible zip in there). My iron then decided to shoot limescale all over the back of it so it looks a bit mucky. It wasn't until I put the dress on for some pictures that I also realised I'd done the straps completely wrong (despite watching Gertie's very informative video clip) and they did not in fact sllliiiddeeee. Fortunately that was a quick fix after inspecting a bra and seeing how it was supposed to be done!

This has got to be one of my favourite makes purely due to the fit and construction - it feels really classy but could easily be thrown on for day wear as well as dressed up. I will absolutely be making more of this pattern!

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A treat for Treacle! Personalised Dog Coat - McCalls M6544

March 2017 being the strangest of months, I haven't really had a chance to make much lately hence silence on the blog however I thought I would share this fun project!

I made my sister's dog Treacle (yes she does have her own Insta), a lovely little coat using left-over brushed cotton from my Carolyn Pyjamas. The fabric was perfect for this project - she looked so smart!

The pattern is M6455 - full coat View D. It is made for varying sizes of dog however Treacle is small and....round. I just had to use the pattern as a template the best I could to get the size right. Starting with neck to tail and then making a few adjustments along the way to get the neck and middle belts nice and comfortable. We did the fittings by post so it took a while to complete!

The instructions were quite easy to follow and the bias bound edges really give it a great finish! I was impressed that the soft side of the Velcro faced dog-wards so not to irritate them if there was any belt overlap on the straps. The coat looks like this laid flat:

The pattern calls for fabric and lining so I used the same soft PJ fabric for both of these. It's not quilted but for really cold weather I guess you could sandwich batting in the layers and quilt it in there for a snugglier coat!

And for that personal touch in case you haven't spotted it - a little embroidered name on the hind!

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A Sointu for Springtime - Named Patterns

Starting "Spring" (it's still only 5 degrees) off with a nautical little number from Named! This is the Sointu Kimono Tee - a loose fitting tee, with kimono sleeves and a wrap around belt. Love the beauty in simplicity...

This top is a beautiful alternative to a plain t-shirt and adds a bit of interest to an outfit with some lovely little details. The fabric is a lovely quality ponte from Minerva Crafts. I cut size 40/42 at the bust and waist grading out to a 44/46 at the hips. (As the pattern is loose fitting it comes in size-pairs). I found the sizing to be very accurate, hanging and draping well where it was supposed to.

Alterations I made were to lengthen by a few inches giving it more of a 'tunic' feel - and accidentally only cutting 1 length of the belt. The belt turned out to be absolutely fine on its own however I realise in the pattern its supposed to wrap around the body twice!

As the pattern itself is simple in its shape, I really tried to make an effort with the construction and pattern matched those stripes like a beast! There's a nice rounded v-neck to this as well which was a little tricky to lay flat but got there in the end. I just cut a strip of fabric and used it as the neckline binding.
Top of Sleeve

Another enjoyable and quick make - I hope the weather improves soon so it can get some wear! I feel like this might become a wardrobe staple...whack on some sunnies and sandals and good to go!

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Ebony Tee I love you - Heather Lou this one's for you

Oh Heather Lou - you went and did it again. Yet another class act of a pattern.


I picked this pattern out on a bit of a whim because I had acquired some rather dazzling ombre fabric from Girl Charlee which turned out to be wayyyy thinner than originally thought and planned for a dress. Not a huge issue as it is gorgeously drapey and perfect for the Ebony T-Shirt!

Admittedly I did hesitate at first because big flowy shirts can be a bit 'maternity' - however they can also be ludicrously comfortable and versatile so I threw my faith into the Closet Case Patterns drafting abilities once more and was not disappointed. Forgive the massively over exposed photos - its still dark in the daytime here...

Given the cut of the shirt I went with bust measurement and that was it - size 10 all round did the job just nicely! If you are of sensitive stomach you may not wish to read on otherwise prepare for some serious gushing...

Ebony Tee let me count the ways in which I love thee so....

  • 3 patterns in one and you can mix and match - woop
  • It made me happy (and anything that does that is just fine in my book)
  • The drafting is outstanding - that is a flattering cut despite the voluminous billows
  • It takes about an hour - cutting, sewing, done. Instant gratification
  • NO HEMMING! (Its jersey, I just didn't want to. AND THAT'S OK)
  • The best fitting neckband in the world
  • Pure definition of comfort
  • Err - can I wear leggings with this? yessssssssssssssss
  • I  repeat - IT MADE ME HAPPY
  • I mean look at it!

As a self-proclaimed lover of Black Milk crazy leggings (of which I stand by the fact there is no age limit upon), I feel like I have hit upon the holy grail of tunic tops to go over them. I've forever been looking for a simple black top that covers appropriately for such leggings but that has some style about it - BINGO. I now instantly need to order some black jersey....

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Carolyn Pyjamas/Pajamas - Closet Case Files Wins again!

No joke I feel like these PJs need a briefcase and cigar - talk about smart nightwear!

I absolutely adore Closet Case Patterns - Heather's designs seem to reflect modern style, great fit but classic comfort all in one go - plus her drafting just seems to suit my body shape. I feel comfortable buying one of her patterns and making it up, knowing there's not too much alteration to be done. I mean her Sallie Jumpsuit just fit right out of the pack - when does that ever happen! (::immediately remembers the maxi dress version and notes it down on the to do list::)

These are 'tailored pajamas for chic lounging' and I would agree with this description! The detail is incredible, even in the version I made without any of the cuffs and piping. For a start, these are far from your average baggy PJ bottoms, they are flatteringly cut, straight leg bottoms, with diagonal pockets and even a faux fly front for detail - ie. a suit. It feels a shame just sleeping in them. They would suit floating around a wintery log fire with a glass of red in hand.

In fact if I'm working from home does this count as formal attire?

The top is beautiful, to the point where I'm considering making one in floatier fabric and wearing as a shirt for day wear. Again the top pocket detail, gentle shaping and lapel construction make it a bit of a work of art.

 Getting into the technicals - I cut a size 10 for the top, grading out to 12 at the waist/hip. The mistake I did make was to cut the bottoms as a 14/16 - I have no idea why,  must have read the chart wrong as even my skinny fit Ginger Jeans were a 12.  It wasn't until I inserted the elastic that I realised there was way too much fabric bunching occurring and it looked a bit off. Pinching out the excess about an inch needed removing from the waist and hip - which transferred to the pattern piece took it to a size 10 again. They were wearable and cosy - but not chic like the pattern intended. So they were made again :) The 10's were just about right but a 12 would have been better.

The fabric is a luxuriously soft brushed cotton 'mulicoloured plaid' from Fabworks Online. It needed 4 meters!!

The only think I found challenging was the lapel -  I had absolutely no clue how the collar and facings went together so just placed blind faith in the instructions and a bit of googling and trial and error - but it worked! Surprisingly well....

2 minor alterations were that next time I'll shorten the sleeves about 1.5 inches - and on this version I had to take 3 inches from the length. I'm 5 ft 7 and found them looonnngggg. But I'd rather that than find they are too short.

At this point I was coming down with an awful cold and really just wanted to be in the PJs rather than making them - so I cheated and didn't put button holes in. I just sewed buttons on through both layers, they are not functional, just decorative - the top easily goes over the head so I just didn't fancy the extra effort on these ones. And strangely my wooden galaxy space buttons seemed to colour coordinate and they got used! I think it makes an interesting extra detail :)

I will absolutely be making these again. The possibilities are endless - all that novelty fabric in my stash might actually get a use! Short sleeve/shorts version will definitely be on the cards for summer. I've even bought this beautiful fabric from Gutherie and Ghani to make another pair - MAYBE I'll attempt some piping :-/

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