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Goodbye to summer

So before I pack away my summer clothes ūüėěI thought I would share a picture of my favourite summer dress.

This is McCall’s M6696 shirt dress. I made it in a blue embroidery anglaise style fabric and wore it in Florence. There is a straight or slightly gathered skirt option.It is a straight forward make, ( just follow the instructions to the letter), with a collar and contract waist and front panels.

Underneath is a plain spaghetti strap slip. It is definitely something I would make again and would recommend if you are a fan of shirt dresses which I think are flattering for all shapes and sizes and age groups. Definitely a winner from McCalls.




McCalls M6696


Because you’re worth it!

So, I have made my first winter garment. A lovely coat from Butterick B6604.

I’m jumping the gun a bit posting now as its not quite finished and the eagle eyed amongst you will probably see some pins and that it needs a good press.¬† However, here it is.


It has deep side pockets, pleats and a contrast collar. There are quite a few pages of instructions and it can be a bit hard to follow your chose variation  (it has sleeve and length variations) as the instructions are combined in places and I found I had to keep re-reading the pattern to understand where I was.

It is really important to follow this pattern exactly as otherwise you could come unstuck as there are so many stages in the construction and lining of the coat.

However, it is a beautiful shape and I am really tempted to make it again, or perhaps make the jacket.

I would really recommend this to experienced sewers, if you are not so experienced, just take your time, the effort will be worth it.



Pretty little things


So it is holiday time and for me a break from studying on my Open University Course.  Time to do some serious sewing.

There is nothing more rewarding for obsessive sewers like myself, than making baby outfits out of remnants left over from previous makes.  You don’t need much to make a baby dress or a little romper suit. 

I wanted to make some outfits for two little babies born this year, both of them prematurely.  So I thought if I made age six months I would have plenty of time to get them done.  Of course, with so many other things on the go, five months later I just managed to complete them all.  They are not difficult to make but as I always have so many things on the go at a time, they took much longer to complete than I would have liked.

I used Simplicity 8563 for the dresses.  The pattern featured a lovely sleeve, like a mini me of what is fashionable at the moment.  However, despite cutting this sleeve out for all the dresses, I found them quite bulky for a baby and so only kept one of the dresses with the full the sleeve.  I also made one of them sleeveless and made short sleeves with lace trim on one of the others.

The dress is very gathered and I decided to make one of the dresses pleated and made the dress less bulky and gathered in another case.  I also lined a couple of them as well.


For the rompers I used McCalls 6309. 


I think this pattern is now discontinued.  However, to make it more suitable for a little girl, I used a lace trim on the legs and a light weight cotton, which I think would make the outfit suitable for this hot weather.  I think they look really cute.

romper photo


Prom Princess (the making of a Prom dress)

This is Rhianna.


She wanted to go to the Year 6 Prom and so she designed her own dress.



Then she got her Aunty Caroline to make it for her!

The dress has a sleeveless bodice, a centre back invisible zip and a circle skirt.

We chose a blue silk for the bodice and dress lining and a whie fabric with sequins for the skirt.

As Rhianna is very slim I decided to make a belt to give a bit of definition to the waist.

I cut a piece 30 cms  deep by the front waist measurement of the dress and then made pleats every five centimetres.  I then attached the two long tie bands.

The circle sequin circle skirt has a blue silk lining and then a net petticoat.

There is a separate net petticoat with three layers of net underneath.

All fabric from WRAP (Watford Recycling Arts Project)

Rhianna loves to twirl and spin the skirt and is looking forward to dancing at her prom.





Summer Wardrobe staples


I’ve just returned from my holiday and am proud to say that I made the majority of my wardrobe myself. ¬† Day dresses, evening dresses, trousers and beach cover ups, together with a leather bag made from the same pattern as my previous post ‘It’s in the bag.’

What I love about making your own clothes is that nobody else will have the same clothes as you.

So here are a few of my favourite pattern picks for summer.


This Vogue pattern comes with several versions and in cup sizes.  I found that the cup size is larger than a bra cup size and I actually ended up a couple of cup sizes smaller than usual.


IMG_5075 (2)

This New Look pattern is simple with bust darts and capped sleeves.  However it can be extremely versatile depending on the fabric used.



I did end up making this dress several times over as it was so simple.  I also changed the neckline and put the zip in the side instead of the centre back as I usually have to take the back seam in quite a bit at the neckline and taper it out to the waist.




I love this dress from Simple Sew

I changed the sleeves to cap sleeves, made it longer and used some biased binding along the hemline.  Then I made a black slip to go underneath that also worked with a couple of other lace dresses.





The amazing thing about all these clothes is that they were made from recycled fabric from WRAP (Watford Recycling Arts Project) Currently based in Northwood.



For the love of cushions


img_0295My home is bedecked with cushions.  I think they really brighten the place up and they are easy to make whether you do it from scraps or treat yourself to some lovely fabric.

Every sofa, chair and all the beds are sprinkled with cushions that I have made over the past couple of years.  Quite a few of them are made from sample fabric pieces that I get from WRAP (Watford Recycling Arts Project), where we are lucky enough to get out of date sample books donated.



These pieces are not standard cushion size but joining several co-ordinating pieces together makes for an interesting project and a colourful cushion.

The fabric samples have cardboard edges in the books but these can easily be removed by steam ironing them.


For these particular cushions I added borders in contrasting fabric as the centre piece would have been quite small for a sofa cushion.

On one of the cushions, I also joined two pieces together to make a complete person and then cut out and appliqued it onto plain fabric.


I used some embroidery thread and satin stitches on the hair, to cover the fact that I had joined these two pieces together.  Contasting borders and an invisible zip in the back section completed the cushion cover.

For the inserts I made an insert the same size as the cover and stuffed it with wadding.

Here are my latest cushions below.



Simplicity Sewing Challenge

Well, here we go again. The Simplicity Sewing Challenge.


I have found some lovely lace in my stash that I am overlaying onto some navy lining.

I got my fabric from the wonderful WRAP https://en-gb.facebook.com/yourWRAP

Check out the facebook page, if you are passionate about recycling then this is the place to come to.

As this is an amazing fit pattern, I have learnt by experience that perhaps it is best to not to go too far off the original design, my aim is simple and stylish.

My changes are therefore going to be :-

  • Lower neckline at front
  • V neckline at back
  • Rouleau button opening on back instead of a zip
  • Longer sleeves with lace frill, using a different sleeve pattern
  • Lengthen the hem and shorten the lining to take advantage of the lovely edging of the lace.

Main Dress

I cut the pattern out using the lace border on the fabric for my bottom hem.  As I have cut out this dress before, I know that it came out quite big as there was a lot of ease so I actually cut out a size smaller and it fitted well.

I cut a new lower neckline and a v at the back, using the front and back necklines from other Simplicity patterns as a guide.

I cut the two layers of fabric out separately, then pinned the lining to the lace on each piece so that I could sew them in one go, instead of making a separate lining.

The lining was cut shorter than the dress so I hemmed the lining sections individually as I wanted to make the dress up in one piece, rather than a dress with a separate lining.

I like to stitch my seams and then overlock them afterwards, so I made the dress up following the pattern instructions, first joining all the front pieces and then the back pieces, side seams and shoulders. Fitting and pressing along the way.

I used bias binding for the neckline in a contrasting colour and stitched it onto the outside edge first as I wanted to hand finish it on the inside.


As I was using a remnant of fabric donated by local industry to WRAP.  This was fantastic but of course but I was conscious of the amount of fabric required and what I actually had.  I ended up  quite short on lace and so was unable to make the sleeves the length that I wanted. However, I decided to make a short sleeve with a frill, taking advantage of a small bit of lace left with a scalloped edge.

Now, you never know how big a piece of fabric you are getting and the scraps I had left were just a bit short on me cutting out my frill, so I joined two pieces of lace together on one sleeve for the frill.  From the pictures I don’t think it shows, you would never know.  This was just a case of using a simple zigzag to join the two pieces together and trimming the lace close to the zig zag.


I attached the sleeves, that were pattern hacked from another simplicity pattern having previously checked the notches would fit by cutting out and pinning in a sleeve in scrap fabric first.

The Rouleau loops

Again I scoured the web for helpful hints and there are many wonderful people that post utube clips and websites with great pictures and instructions.

I used some of the same biased binding as the neck, cut the length of the opening plus a small allowance for turning over each end.  Stitching a very narrow seam approx.  5mm, turning it out with a looper.  I then cut this long strip into 2.5cm strips for the rouleau loops.

I marked out the placements for the buttons at one inch intervals with a pen and placed the loops on the markings, also tacking them into place.  Then I placed the binding against the back opening and machined the biding into place.  This worked and gave me a good result.  I then used some bias binding to neaten the edge and the raw edges of the loops.


Now for the buttons.  I had some really pretty buttons that I was desperate to use but they weren’t the right colour.  Now a friend of mine often uses nail varnish to paint her earrings to match her outfit, so I raided my nail varnish bottles and found a pretty pink and a purple that matched perfectly with my dress.  As you can see the result is quite cute.  The light purple buttons and the bronze buttons didn’t need painting.


I pinned the loops in place at the back in order to make sure I sewed the buttons on in the right place.


I think they look really colourful

Tips and what I have learnt

This pattern requires time spent to get the fit right.  Get a friend to help you fit it as it make the job much quicker.

Thanks to

Watford Recycling Arts Project –¬† for my fabric

Simplicity patterns

So here is my finished dress, not as ambitious as my first attempt but hey, this pattern is an ‚Äúamazing fit‚ÄĚ so why play around with it?