It's Back and its Hacked - Kew Skirt

 It's been about 2 seconds since I last posted about the Kew pattern from Nina Lee but I thought it deserved another little squeeze onto the blog.... just one more.

The versatility of this pattern is wonderful, as I have previously raved about - sleeve options, skirt options, size inclusion. Mwah :chef kiss:

This project started with the fabric - some wonderful quality rayon from Nerida Hansen. I mean - look at it. There was no way I was passing up on this wonder containing all my favourite things! The design is by The Scenic Route, an Australian illustrator of beautiful things.

I fancied making a button front skirt but came to a massive indecision about the pattern to use as I needed a bit of elastic in the waistband. 

My waistline seems to go in and out with the tides these days so there was a definite need for a bit of 'forgiveness' in that area so there are no makes I can only wear once then not fit into anymore. I had overlooked the Kew skirt at first because of it's fixed waistband - but then I realized those rules don't matter and hacked it. Cos' we can do that.

Boom. Elasticated back waistband. Business at the front, party at the back.

If you want to do this hack - keep the front pieces exactly how they are, they can look all lovely and flat from the front view.

For the back piece - add about 6" to the width of the pattern (about 3" from centre back on fold). Same again for the back waistband piece. That gives you some elastic gathering room for comfy factor!

 (Now let's not pretend it was as easy as that. I initially cut my back piece like a rectangle, the entire width of the hem. When I inserted the elastic into the waistband to bring it in, it was comically huge. I realised I only needed a bit of give that could get over my hips, not an entire blanket of fabric at the back. I chopped out a huge chunk of fabric so this one now has a center back. And I ended up with what should have been a very easy hack to start with.)

 Quite happy to have persevered with this one as the result is really wearable. To attach the elastic I inserted it near the side seam and secured it with a row of stitching. It then got threaded through the back waistband and pinned to the other side seam while I checked the fit. Once happy I just secured that through the waistband too with another stitch line. 

Finishing touches were the buttons that I popped on. These were from Turtlebird. They are functioning button holes but again, I probably should have realized that wasn't necessary as the skirt goes on and off with the elastic! Doh.

Another skirt for the arsenal. It's bringing me out of my anti-skirt mindset as they are a heck of a lot easier to fit that trousers....

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Loving Lois - Tessuti Dress

Today brings a new pattern (for me) and it was such a great find! 

 Whilst I have heard of Tessuti and of course, like many people, tried the free Mandy Boat Tee pattern (which unfortunately doesn't work for me at all), I hadn't really given the patterns on the site much attention.

Enter the Lois Dress which had me intrigued... It's V-neck and floaty and was calling to me. I went for the gamble and bought the pattern. I wasn't convinced it would work well as I had fit issues with the sleeves of the Mandy Boat Tee being too tight for my arms and I fully expected this to be too tight. This was also a concern as my measurements put me in the 16+ range....which doesn't exists. I figured I'd just add a bit of ease.

Before making this I went on an internet deep-dive about the fit and just about every review said it came up really big and to size down. 

I can confirm - this dress comes up big. Size down.

 For the actual size I did start with the 16 to see what happened. The fabric is red poppy viscose from Rainbow Fabrics which I chose for my toile.

What happened is that the 16 fit wonderfully across my back and shoulders. The bit I figured would pull too tight. I did however have to take it in from under the arm to waist so in reality that part is a 14.

This is a hell of a pattern with some very interesting details:

Back Wrap - there are no side seams! The skirt wraps to the back of the dress with some darts that create the shaping at the hips.

Hip Zip - the zip is inserted into the side hip dart. There dress is so roomy, there was absolutely no need for a zip and so my versions, don't have one. 

Beautiful Binding - the method of binding the neckline is amazing. There's some kind of folding and edge stitching magic going on which created a non-gaping, fitted neckline.

Interfacing Insanity - this pattern appears to be sponsored by Vislene as it has you interface just about every edge and seam with stitch and tear - and tear it all off after you have done. I did not do that. I just stay stitched the neckline and the front skirt piece. It was fine. 

Bias Binds - The arm cuff pieces are cut on the bias so ease into the armhole nicely. 

I don't think I've ever worn something so low cut but the fit of the dress is just fantastic at the neckline. I thought it was quite flattering and didn't cause any unwanted flashing when it was worn.


That being said I figured that if I could raise the neckline a bit, the pattern could make a great day dress. I picked some really fun poison dart frog rayon from Soimoi who sell through Amazon. (Takes about 3 weeks to arrive from India to UK).

 I made a few changes to the pattern to make this yellow frog version. 

Cuffs - due to fabric constraints I cut these on the grain not bias. They were absolutely fine. 

Bust darts - my original version had the darts in a bit of an odd place so I moved these about 1.5" across the bodice.

Neckline - Melt Stitches has a great photo of how the neckline is raised so I refer you to her site! She had also popped in a few buttons which I thought was a nice detail and so also did the same for mine. (Buttons from Etsy)

 Skirt flare - unfortunately I had to narrow and shorten the skirt pieces due to fabric constraints as I didn't realize it was a fairly narrow piece I had chosen. Works just fine for a day dress though and minimal waste!

Loving Lois.

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Sun, Sea and Saltwater Slips

WHY have I waited so long to get this wonder pattern into my life?!

I'm talking about the Friday Pattern Company - Saltwater Slip

To be fair at first glance I just didn't think it would fit my shape what with it looking like a straight up and down basic dress. Basic it is not. I was not looking at those glorious details. To name a few...

Sliders - the straps on this dress are made with bra sliders, a feature I adore as I am a bit slopey shouldered and uneven so this is excellent to fix any straps slipping off and being annoying. Not the best example below but it works...

Back shaping - not immediately obvious in the pictures the dress is shaped and so curves beautifully into the small of the back. Oh yeah, and there are bust darts.....

Waist ties - to keep it loose and comfy but still shapely those sneaky little ties at the back (or front, your call) are fabulous

Jazzy fabric potential - speaks for itself. I have a lot of jazzy fabric. This pattern let's the print do the talking without breaking it up with waist seams.

Sizing was a bit of a  gamble - initially went for an XXL graded to 1X at the hips however it was a little baggy under the arms so I nipped it in about half an inch each side. So these versions are now XL, XXL, 1X.

I did toile this dress due to being a bit skeptical of the fit but I ended up with a wearable toile in some parrot viscose from the deep-stash. I only had enough fabric for the short version however this length  turned out perfect for hiking!

 My second version I used up some beautiful Scamp + Dude dead stock from Rainbow Fabrics. (For anyone unfamiliar, Scamp + Dude do some pricey but awesome printed dresses)

Unfortunately no longer available and it sold out in seconds - HOWEVER - little tip off for you. There is a great dupe for Scamp + Dude available here at Minerva as part of their new own range! I mean, that's pretty similar right?!

 Back to the dress. This time I went for the long version with side slits and again, just a ridiculously comfortable dress to wear. I never wore it on holiday so you'll have to make do with the regular (overgrown) garden shot.

Last but not least - the third version is an upcycled dress. I had an amazing maxi dress years ago that I just didn't wear. It was cut into a skirt and I didn't wear that either. I'm so pleased I hung onto it though as fate would have it be the exact amount of fabric required to cut a Saltwater. 

This version I used contrast black viscose binding and rose gold strap sliders and it made for the absolute perfect summer dress. (Along with Saltwater Sandals - which FYI are the comfiest things ever - not an advert, I just like them and figured everyone needs a tip-off about a comfy shoe now and again.)

The Salwater marathon continued further as I realised that if it made a great dress, it would also make a great camisole (I've fallen out with the Ogden cami and it no longer fits quite right for some reason). 

Enter the perfect little summer camisole.... Lady McElroy Cobra Corsage in Lemon!

 This really didn't take up much fabric and so I think I shall be making more of these little tops with any leftover pieces this summer.

All in all a fantastic pattern and I now see what all the fuss was about. Let me know if you've made or are making anything similar...

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It's All About Kew


I've been away on a short (yet sorely needed) break and come to you today with a post about the Kew Dress.

The Kew Dress is by Nina Lee and has to be one of my favourite dress patterns of all time.  I have made several versions of this such as here and here

Once again my label can do the talking.

 Since it's original inception, the Kew Dress has been updated and added to, with several extension packs now available for differing sleeve and skirt shapes - there is the regular A-line version, a gathered version and also pencil skirt. All of which now come as separate skirt patterns too with the expanded sizing range. 

The version I could not get out of my head was this amazing maxi hack by Nina herself. It's a beauty of a version back from 2020 and I even bought the fabric straight away to make one!

And of course everything languished about for a couple of years.... 

During that time I found out I'm a fan of tiers (news to me but I'm going with it) and made a skirt and the Indigo Dress (yet unblogged). The gathering is now super easy using the shirring method and so an attempt at this Kew seemed less daunting!

I think I had also procrastinated about making this as I was sure I needed to size up and re-trace all my pattern pieces. I dug out my previous version and it fit just fine, so with a holiday on the horizon I set about a little project with a week to go. (For reference this is a 14 bust and 16 waist).

Oh it was worth the wait....

The pattern is immaculately drafted and the strap placement perfectly hides a bra. There are bust and waist darts in the front and back which shape the bodice nicely. The skirt piece then has a slight A-line shape to it and so skims the hips and tum wonderfully.

For this version I followed Nina's instructions and added a centre back zip which eliminated the need for a functioning button placket. The buttons were sewn through both layers of the placket without a buttonhole.

This fabric is 3m of viscose and I THINK it was Fabric Godmother however I can't be 100% sure on that. Regardless I absolutely love the colour palette and vibrant floral.

The tiers were added at mid-thigh and calf height and just consist of 2 large rectangles added to the layers above. The effect is a lovely swooshy maxi-dress perfect for the warm weather.

To anyone looking for a great dress this summer I would definitely recommend the Kew Dress! 

Kew (sic) another picture of me posing about in it.....

Wishing you all happy sewing.... in the meantime here's a picture of a little Wall Lizard I knitted when I got home.

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'It's Not Mave' Tiered Skirt Tutorial

 Saint + Sofia continue to advertise to me and give me ideas.... so watcha gonna do?!

Completely inspired by a tiered maxi skirt I did the usual sewist trick of thinking 'hmm, I wonder if I can make that?'. Turns out yes. Yes you can. 

At first I toyed with the idea of getting the True Bias Mave Skirt which is pretty much a dead-ringer for the maxi skirt in question. So if you did want an actual pattern, that's probably the one to go for. 

This is NOT a Mave review as I didn't use it in the end. I went with Ye Olde 3 rectangles and a waistband method. 

I took a good look at the proportions of the skirt and had a little help from The Fabric Wrangler to measure down from my waist to thigh, thigh to mid calf and then calf to ankle for the three tiers. 

The top tier was 1.5 x my hip measurement, second tier 1.5 x the top, and the third tier 1.5 x the second. The waistband was just double the width of my elastic + a seam allowance. Like this:(Aparently this post is now a tutorial - let's go with it).

My hips are pretty big to start with so when you're going up in these increments, the fabric rectangles got hilarious. This is the third tier laid out on my landing!

My favourite way of gathering is just to use shirring elastic in the bobbin and so attaching the tiers wasn't too traumatic in the end. 

I used a 2" elastic for the waist and at first try on, there was too much fabric gathered at the waist. This probably wouldn't be an issue for most people but I have a 12" waist to hip difference and so a bit of the fullness needed to come out. I unpicked the waistband, shaped the top tier a bit to reduce the volume and reattached it. The top tier and waistband is now 'hip measurement + 6 inches'. So my pattern is now more like this:

Much better! I gave the elastic a few rows of top stitching to flatten it down and voila. Skirt.

I have previously said 'Emma doesn't do skirts' but I think I've found one I like!

 Excellent wafting about potential and also eliminates the whole 'my trousers don't fit' issue. 

Oops forget to mention the fabric - this is a hot pink leopard print viscose from Rainbow Fabrics. They don't have it anymore but I did see the same on Felicity Fabrics not long ago. 

Thanks for stopping by again, happy weekend x

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Helen's Closet - Cameron

Brain fail on an exciting title but you get what you came for with this one. 

The shirt saga continues, but with slightly better results than last week!

I'm a sucker for Helen's Closet patterns and as soon as she dropped the new Cameron Shirt I snapped that up. It's a unisex pattern so plenty of making opportunities with this one. 

The shirt is dartless and 'boxy' in style with all the classic shirt elements you might expect. Collars, plackets, pockets, cuffs, the lot. 

On the measurement chart I fit into my usual 16/18 for Helen's Closet patterns so I cut that out of some viscose I'd stashed from Sew Anonymous. I was going for 'wearable toile' but as soon as I started making up the shirt I really wanted it to work as the fabric grew on me. 

The pattern instructions with this shirt are insane. And by that I mean voluminous, detailed and cover every potential aspect of a shirt you could possibly need. The pattern would be worth buying for the instruction booklet alone. That must have taken some serious time and effort to write.

That being said I immediately got myself in a muddle with the button placket. It has you do some fancy move where you flip and edge stich - this was a 'bit much' for my causal toile and so I just did the old 'fold and fold again' placket. Plackets for the non-fancy if you will. 

The pattern also got some feedback that the collar stand was tricky to insert as it's fairly short in comparison to the neckline. An updated pattern piece was released but even with the new one I did have to stretch it in a fair bit. 


The finished shirt initially came out really big at the shoulders. The shoulder seam extended a few centimeters past where it should have landed. In an attempt to save the toile that I now liked, I was advised to take the sleeves out again, recut the top shoulder at the armhole to about a size 12/14 and then re-insert the sleeve. I'm so glad I took the time to do that as it works a treat now!

It is a very large shirt though, and perhaps I could have sized down all over however I think it might be the style of the shirt. 

I then found a viscose remnant in this gorgeous lilac colour from Sew Hayley Jane outlet. Spurred on with my toile I cut into this and remade the shirt with all the tweaks done to the pattern.


I love adding buttons on my machine and found a neat little trick to put some wonder tape on them to hold them in place under the presser foot.  

The curse of the second make hit once more. I haven't a clue why but this version, despite being smaller (in theory) turned out bigger than the first! I think the fabric stretched out when I was making it potentially. 

I also messed the collar up quite badly, went to recut another but didn't have any fabric left (not even a patchwork version to squeeze out of leftovers). So I just finished it off without it. Not sure about this style but it works as a shirt nonetheless. 

So to summarize I prefer the wearable toile. However as I look back at these photos it still looks a bit sizeable and not particularly flattering from the back! It's a long shirt and probably looks better tuicked in or with slimmer leg trousers. At least it's casual and comfy...  

I'd make it again I think, but the next one shall be for the husband so will be interesting to see how it fits on him. 

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The Great Fayma F**k Up

Sliding into Sunday today with an absolute disaster of a project which I thought I would share to demonstrate it's not all sunshine and roses on the sewing front!

Also just noticed the bird is upside down!
 You made have seen pattern company Fayma (who are also now Hobbycraft Made to Measure) - you take a load of your own body measurements, along with some photographs for analysis, and a 'made to measure' pattern is created. 

Lovely job - so I thought. I didn't expect it to be a perfect fit, but a 'good enough' fit to tweak would have been alright. This was so far off the mark it was untrue. 

Just for clarity - before I wrote this I had the lovely Fabric Wrangler (and all round sewing Oracle) check my measurements that had been input, and they were all fine.

First of all I had a little gripe with the paper wastage. Every single pattern piece is printed separately - even the reverse pieces such as collar, under collar, top collar, another top collar piece. I get that you may need two of everything if measurements differed on your body however the collar piece was formatted across 3 pages of A4 set at 'portrait' when it could have easily fit on 1 page landscape. It's auto-generated pieces so I suppose the layout is a bit how you find it.

I set about cutting a 'wearable toile' from some stash fabric which I envisaged as a nice wafty summer shirt. Immediately we (I was in class at the time) spotted that the yoke was really small so had to extend that by 1/2" each side to extend the shoulder a bit. No big deal.

Then came the back piece. It was a whopping 6 inches too small to fit the yoke. I ended up cutting a stripe of extra fabric and inserting that to fit. Well that went wrong - although I'm not one for bothering to pattern match, a headless bird was even too much for me. 

I then had a 'make it work' moment and created a little back panel for the remnants. 

 Next up was the collar - and there was no way that was fitting (even with endless snips and wrangling) as it was 3" too short so I had to re-draft the collar myself in it's entirety. That should have fit as I hadn't
made any pattern changes to the neckline.

The sleeves actually went in really well so I was hopefully the shirt may be saved at this point.

I popped it on and immediately felt like I was an I.T advisor ready to tell someone to 'switch it on and off again'. Definite Jeff from Accounting vibes. Actually if I popped on a goatee I would have been David Brent. 

It was then I noticed there was some epic 'weirdness' on the back sleeves where they were sticking away from my body like wings. Again, a trip to the Oracle confirmed that it was just plain bizarre and we tried to pin out the shape to at least make the shirt 'one for gardening in'.

Well I think this thing was cursed because as soon as I tried to tidy up the edged my overlocker decided to eat the sleeves and pulled it all under. Out of fabric and out of patience I called time of death on the shirt.

The only part I actually like was the birds anyway, so I set about harvesting the cranes like I was on some kind of conservation project. 

The shirt is now suitable for a bit-part on The Walking Dead and available for audition. The birds are awaiting release back into the wild. 

Where I went wrong I have no idea, and I'm not sure I care either as I won't be making it again. I'd love to read some more reviews of these patterns though. Have you have any experiences?

I do have the Fouette trousers downloaded from Fayma and I'm now nervous to start these! That being said my friend Claire from class had some great success with the Fayma Boyfriend trousers fitting almost straight away. Fingers crossed for the next one.

Update: I made a Melilot Blouse in some fabric from the Hayley Jane Outlet as a kind of 'palette cleaner'. By fluke the colour was a match for the birds!!

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