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

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 “amazing fit” so why play around with it?



Simplicity Sewing Challenge – you win some you loose some!


Sometimes it doesn’t turn out quite like you had hoped!
I’ve been busy making my outfit for the Simplicity Sewing Challenge.
Having made a few design changes, the more I looked at my dress the more I thought it would make a lovely two piece.
I cut the skirt on the bias and added a waistband and a centre concealed zip.
I’ve recently taken to scouring the web for tutorials and I found a great one on the “We all Sew” website for inserting centre back zips into a skirt waistband.
 This explains the process in wonderful detail.  I now have a perfect centre back concealed zip.
Unfortunately, my top is not really working, I don’t think my design of using the “welt” shapes looks right and doing this I have lost the ‘amazing fit’ having re-cut the top with my leftover fabric, using the lace bottom as a trim, I’m still not happy as it’s difficult to
get the curves to match, so you know what I am going to admit defeat on this one.
I have a lovely green skirt and will go back to the top another time.  However, if I want to complete this challenge, I really need to start again!!
Oh well, back to the drawing board and my fabric stash.  Hopefully I will have put my next design together soon!

Simplicity Sewing Challenge – the design

So, I’ve had a bit of time to to think about my choice of fabrics and any design changes I want to make.

Here goes then – my very simple sketch showing how I am going to tweak the design for myself. The changes are in the coloured pencil.

simple sketch

This includes:-

  • a lower neckline
  • longer sleeves
  • a lower hemline

I have also chosen my fabric.  Suggested fabrics are lightweight to medium weight such as cotton, wool, and linen.  I’ve chosen a medium weight sateen for the skirt and panels and am using lace over the sateen on the top half.

Fabrics side by side

lace and sateen

Lace over sateen

lace over sateen

I think the effect is very pretty


  • My first job is to mark up the waist line on all the pattern pieces in order for me to know my cutting lines for the top,so I’m basically slicing the pattern off at the waist.


  • Some pattern pieces already have the waistline marked and it is easy to match up the other pattern pieces to find the waistline.
  • I need to make sure that I allow seam allowances below the waistline for joining the top and bottom of the dress together, the skirt part will need seam allowance added above the top line.
  • Then I will make my small side inserts coloured in on my sketch by using the bottom on the upper side panel and the side panel.

    Side view showing how I am altering the pattern

    This shows the pattern pieces joined together and the picture below shows how there pieces were adjusted from the pattern

  • IMG_0235

    Centre piece stays the same, the side and upper side patterns are shortened, paper pattern shows how the upper side panel was adjusted the blue panel is the equivalent to the bottom of the side panels but in one piece

    Now that I know the design works, I will cut this out in my final fabric. There is quite a bit of ease allowed in this pattern, so although my top is a reasonable fit I will most certainly be adjusting my final version.

    So I’ll be back in a week or so with my progress.



Simplicity Sewing Challenge


Buy Simplicity Amazing Fit Dress Sewing Pattern, 1458 Online at


It’s arrived….

Really excited as my sewing pattern has arrived from the Simplicity Bloggers Circle, and I’m all stations go to start on my dress to take part in the Simplicity Sewing Challenge.

This is an ‘amazing fit’ pattern, so it’s really important to get the measurements right around the bust, in order to cut out the correct pattern pieces. The instructions for measuring the bust are very clear and simple to follow, and as the dress pattern has cup sizes this will result in the ‘amazing fit’.


First of all I am going to look through my stash and choose my fabric.  Suffice to say, I will be making a toile as I’m not a stock size, there is always a fair amount of tweeking to do until I get the perfect fit, the back is usually my main problem.


I have also  just invested in two new A1 cutting mats in order to break the habit of a lifetime and try using a rotary cutter instead of scissors.

Some of the Sewing Bee contestant’s use of “weights” instead of pins got me thinking.  It was Charlotte who commented on how fabric moves when you cut it, something I had never thought about before,  its so true that just a teeny bit out in your cutting and you loose something from your fit.

I am also looking at the pattern to see if I want to make any alterations to the design.  I’m thinking of perhaps changing the necklines at both the back and front from a round neck to a v neck and perhaps making changes to the sleeves as I prefer a three quarter length sleeve.  I also prefer a knee length on myself so will be making it a bit longer.

So, I need a bit of time to do this but will be posting my progress and reviewing the pattern as I go along.

I look forward to hearing from anyone else who is attempting the challenge, details of which are below!