A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Category Archives: Sewing

My eyes locked on to this fabric from across a crowded room and I knew I had to have her. I really can’t resist a fruit print and these pineapples are so much fun! I instantly pictured myself in a cute skirt, frolicking joyfully during a mini-break. For a while, I thought that we couldn’t be together. The lady in the shop told me that the fabric was all used for online orders. I was heartbroken. But then I checked the website and was able to buy her there. She’s worth the postage.

I decided to take a risk and try to squeeze this skirt out of a metre of fabric. When I measured the last tulip skirt I made, it took 1.1m of fabric. I really hoped those 10cm wouldn’t cause me too many problems…

Nope! Most sizes could easily be cut from 1m of 145cm wide fabric. I didn’t even have to use a different fabric for the waistband facing.

Having seen the gorgeous sample in quilting cotton in the Sew Over It store, I decided to use lining fabric for the pockets. This cotton-linen blend is quite heavy. I used the pocket pieces for the Day Dress because the pockets on my first tulip skirt aren’t quite capacious enough for my liking.

Doing the pleats and darts was a breeze as the linen in this fabric allows it to hold a crisp fold. I’ve never worked with linen before, either as a knitter or a sewist, so it’s been fun to learn about a new fibre. I’ve just realised this skirt will probably crease like billy-o, but I’ll be too fabulous to care.

I wanted to overlock the pattern pieces as both the fashion fabric and lining fray easily. However, I ended up pulling out my trusty overcasting foot and finishing the edges that way. This is the most excited I’ve been about a project since my zebra shorts and I couldn’t wait to get to a sewing cafe.

I couldn’t find a suitably coloured invisible zip at Liberty or John Lewis, so I decided to use an exposed zip. I followed the same tutorial I used before. I’d forgotten how laborious it is to put in one of these suckers! It took forever. I also had to use a 7″ zip (8″ recommended in pattern), which gives me just enough wiggle room to get this thing on and off. Be careful of using a shorter zip for this skirt if you are pear-shaped!


I have to say that my perfectionist tendencies came out big time when installing the zip. I found myself getting very frustrated that the two sides weren’t symmetrical. Fortunately, I decided to give myself a little break from the machine and try the skirt on. I was very relieved that it fit! I decided to use my mother’s old trick of cutting some pattern pieces on the selvedges to save finishing those edges. The problem with doing that on the centre back seam was that I wouldn’t have been able to let the skirt out if it had been too small. I’m not sure I’ll do it again in future.

Even though I realised the zip looked absolutely fine when I tried the skirt on, I also noticed that the placement of the pattern isn’t amazing on the back. There are lots of pineapples cut in half. As usual, this is something that I would probably ignore if I bought this skirt RTW, but it bothered me that I hadn’t foreseen this problem. I just need to take it as a reminder to be more mindful of pattern placement when using such a bold print in future.

Fabric: 1m (145cm wide) cotton-linen mix from Sew Over It

Pattern: Tulip Skirt by Sew Over It (size 10)


I was scrolling though Pinterest the other day, looking for pinspiration, when I was reminded of the Macaron dress I planned to make nearly two years ago.

I’ve got a wedding coming up in a few months, and I think this dress would be perfect. I immediately dug out the pattern pieces I cut over a year ago.

I’m pretty much planning for this project to be a toile. I have a weird love-hate relationship with the fabrics I chose. I never normally wear pink, but I couldn’t resist the pretty floral pattern and birds. I remain unsure about whether the blue looks good, or the top of the dress would pop more with a white contrast.

Anyway, it will be a pleasant surprise if I end up with a wearable dress. I’ve never bothered making a toile before, but I paid full price for the Liberty fabric and I’m really looking for perfection in the final garment. Macaron is quite an intricate pattern so I’m a little apprehensive about my ability to fix fitting problems. Eek!

I whizzed through the steps of constructing the bodice pretty quickly.

As soon as I tried on the bodice, I realised there were big problems. The fit on the waist was tight and the bust seemed okay, but I had a lot of fabric pooling in the back.

You can even see the bagginess on the hanger. I tried pinching in the side seams and tugging in various directions, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it lie flat. This is my first solo attempt at a fitted bodice.

I decided to trace a copy of the bodice pattern to make my adjustments. This is a bit of a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted- since I cut out the pattern pieces, I’ve lost the larger sizes. However, this way I still have a back-up in case my alterations somehow make the fit even worse.

I ended up deciding to book a private sewing lesson to get some expert fitting advice. I completed as many steps as possible to take along. I have to say, Macaron is surprisingly easy to construct given the polished final look of the dress.

Slashing the pleats to place the pockets was a bit scary, but I adore the final result. This is what the pieces looked like before my lesson.

Wish me luck!

Pattern: Macaron by Collette Patterns

Fabric: Viscose bought on holiday in Indonesia. The blue is some random fabric purchased on Goldhawk Road


I finished sewing my second Bettine dress! I’m so pleased with this project, especially considering that this is my first time working with jersey.


I detailed the changes I made to the pattern here. I’m very happy with the alterations I made from my first go at this dress. I think the Bettine works really well in a knit. I’m really pleased with the fabric, too. The jersey feels heavy and of great quality, but because it’s cotton, it’s also breathable.

When I tried the top and skirt on before constructing the waistband, I realised that the tulip skirt looked a bit silly on me in this heavy jersey, so I reduced the curve.

I love the way the neckband gives the dress a more t-shirty look. I would agree with others that a jersey Bettine is basically secret pyjamas.

Somehow this dress seems a little on the short side. My raindrop Bettine seems around my standard dress length, whereas this one is only just long enough (for my personal taste) to wear to work without tights. I made the hemline exactly as instructed so may lengthen by a centimetre or two if making in jersey again. I am only 5″4, though I do have long legs.


Slightly random note, but this project uses a lot of thread. I bought a new spool of turquoise polyester thread and had to get a second one to topstitch the hem. While I did a fair bit of unpicking, I didn’t finish any of the edges (apparently you don’t need to with jersey) so I was surprised that I got through so much thread.

I’ve always been very apprehensive about working with a knit fabric, so I’m relieved that I was able to do it. I did really take my time with this project, which helped. I’ll see how this dress wears, but I can definitely see more jersey Bettines in my future.

Pattern: Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons

Fabric: 2m cotton jersey from Sew Over It


I finished sewing my Bettine dress!

I made a few alterations to the pattern, including a full bust adjustment. I included a bit more information about the changes in my previous post.

Overall, I think this is a great pattern. The only minor comments I would have is that my neckline gapes a little, and I find there is a bit too much ‘blousiness’ in the bodice- I will shorten it in future.

Although I’d read that double gauze can be translucent, I thought I’d be alright because the double gauze I bought from the same supplier before was solid. All I can say is, white makes fools of us all!

I think the biggest issue is likely to be that the fabric creases quite badly. I’m just going to have to live with that as I seldom iron when I’m not sewing!

Pattern: Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons

Fabric: 3m double gauze, 108cm wide


After the relative success of my raindrop-print Bettine, I was excited to cut another. I picked up this remnant of striped jersey from Sew Over It a few weeks ago. I thought £7.50 was very reasonable for two metres, and when I was looking for more information online, I discovered that it’s still available for £13/m. I love a bargain. I’ve never worked with a knit fabric before, and getting this fabric so cheaply helped me to push myself.

I made a few further changes to the pattern

  • Reduced neckline by 1cm on each side to prevent gaping (tutorial here)
  • Reduced length of bodice by one inch
  • Curved front skirt waistline to match back
  • Removed 4cm (2cm each side) from neckband. In future,  remove 5 or 6cm
  • Stabilised areas with wonder tape before twin needle stitching to reduce tunnelling
  • Finished pocket edgings with the same technique as the neckline. Used 23cm strip of fabric
  • Single layer pockets
  • Reduced curve in the hip by 1.5cm

Tilly provides some very handy tips for making a jersey Bettine, including the dimensions for the neckband.

Cutting the jersey was more difficult than cutting a woven fabric. I’d already invested in a rotary cutter, mat and pattern weights (partly because I find cutting with scissors super annoying). I must add that I made the job more difficult for myself by using stripes, which I tried my utmost to keep horizontal.

For the sewing, I also purchased some ballpoint needles and made use of my walking foot for the first time on my new machine. I just bought a cheap generic one as part of a set of feet.

The first step was constructing the neckline, which was a real baptism of fire. I wasn’t sure I would be able to manage the stretch fabric without pulling the neck out of shape. I carefully pinned the fabric first, using ballpoint pins.

Heartbreakingly, I had to unpick my first attempt as the neckband was too long. I wasn’t surprised as I had adjusted the bodice neckline to reduce gape, but it was still annoying. I also hadn’t really understood the instruction to baste in place first, meaning I used a stretch stitch, which was a pain to remove.

Here is the finished neckline.

I’m really thrilled with it! Loads of firsts here- first stretch, first neckband, first use of a twin needle. I probably could have reduced the neckband by another centimetre or two, but I think this is good enough.

I even used the same technique to finish the pocket edges. I thought it might be cute to carry the design element from the neck. Lots of people seem to think the pockets as written aren’t a great idea in jersey, so I created single layer pockets. I stitched the pocket bags onto the skirt front using my twin needle, again trying to keep the details consistent in this garment. It felt a little strange to go my own way with no instructions to follow, but it seemed to work.

So far I’m cautiously optimistic about this project. I’ve found myself taking a lot of time to get things right- I pulled those pocket edgings out so many times to try and get them to lie flat! However I haven’t begrudged the time. I’m just hoping it’s going to pay off in the form of a lovely dress.

Pattern: Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons

Fabric: 2m (140cm wide) cotton jersey from Sew Over It


I’ve loved Bettine pretty much from first sight. I was unsure about buying the pattern as I read a few blog posts that weren’t entirely positive about it, but I finally took the plunge last year and picked it up with three metres of beautiful double gauze. It’s by the same people that made the fabric for my unicorn top.

I had hoped to make this dress for my Brazil trip last year, but I bumped it in favour of my spur-of-the-moment zebra shorts

After reading even more blog posts, I decided to make some modifications to the pattern. This involved tracing a pattern for the first time ever. It took ages, but it’s nice to know that I still have the original pattern if my adjustments turn out to be a disaster.

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I curved the waist seams following this post. I also found this post by Tilly herself very helpful, and I did my first full bust adjustment.

The first stage of the dress is constructing the bodice. This is fairly straightforward. The neckline stitching is a little fiddly. I found the most difficult bit was easing the side seams, which is only necessary because of the FBA. However, having tried on, I’m very happy I made the adjustment.



I’ve also constructed the pockets. This material is quite transparent, so I’m going to have to buy or make a half-slip to wear underneath. As you can see, I managed to mess the left pocket bag up slightly. I’m hoping that adding another centimetre to the front seam allowances in that area on both sides (marked by the pins) will fix this as it would be very time-consuming to rectify this error.

So far, I’d say that this dress has mostly lived up to the promise of being a straightforward sew.


As I’ve mentioned numerous times, my obsessive passion for knitting has taken a nosedive over the past few months. I think that this is partly due to becoming a highly competent knitter. I don’t feel particularly challenged by prospective knitting projects. Another part is dissatisfaction with some of the garments I have created. Since you are creating shaped fabric as you knit, once an item is finished, it’s finished. If there’s something you don’t like about it, often that’s a case of tough luck. 

There’s also a limit to the number of knitted garments that a wardrobe can take. Realistically, I don’t wear knitted jumpers that often. They are a bit casual for workwear, and if I’m looking for comfort, I usually reach for a RTW sweatshirt or hoodie rather than one of my creations. 

I think this is why sewing has started to interest me so much more. You can create a much wider variety of clothing, and home-sewn items are less radically different to shop-bought than handknit to machine knit. 

However, the experiences of knitting and sewing are vastly different. For me, sewing is highly immersive and addictive. I fly through the steps, desperate to discover the result of my fevered work in front of the machine. I scarcely breathe. This is partly my personality- being outcome- rather than process-oriented (something I try to work on). It’s also a side-effect of my being a relative novice. When I first started knitting, I would occasionally stay up all night working on a project. However, I also think it’s partly due to inherent differences in the two activities. 

This is a very long-winded way of saying that I miss knitting. As an attentionally impoverished millennial, I am basically incapable of sitting still. I’ve noticed that I’ve started playing stupid games on my phone while I’m watching TV. This used to be knitting time.

I haven’t forced myself to do any knitting during my fallow period. But recently my interest in yarn has started to pick up. After reading a very interesting blog post by Tom of Holland, I picked up a copy of Indigo Knits, a wonderful book about working with denim yarn. 


I’m considering starting a denim cardigan. I love denim and the idea of triple denim (jeans, denim shirt and denim cardigan) intrigues me. Dare I embrace the taboo?

I also bought Inspired by Islay, Kate Davies’ most recent publication. 


I mainly bought it because I adore the Port Charlotte yoke. 


Heart eyes emoji. 

This jumper is everything to me. I’m holding off on starting because I need to consider whether there is a gap in my wardrobe for her. I would like a cropped sweater to wear over skirts and dresses, but I’m not sure whether this is the right candidate. 

I also bought some of Kate’s Buachaille wool. I’ve been wanting to try it ever since it was released. So far I’ve just made a swatch. 


So, some stirrings of wanting to knit, and a small project to work on are positive signs. I think that even holding off on starting Port Charlotte represents progress. A mistake I’ve made over and over is starting projects without sufficient thought and research. Knitting a garment is slow, labour-intensive and expensive. I owe it to myself as a craftsperson to put in the legwork to have the best chance of ending up with something I love.