A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: dressmaking

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 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


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 finished sewing my fairytale Cleo dress just in time for my thirtieth birthday, which was yesterday. Hence a finished object being presented on a day other than a Friday. Gasp! Behold my now-haggard form.


My 30th was a mix of immaturity- cake for lunch and going to a ball pit (albeit an adult ball bit)- and age appropriate activity. The evening was spent at the Newport Street gallery.


There’s so much discussion when you’re a woman turning 30, and plenty to think about. When is it time to worry about settling down and having kids? Do I want to settle down and have kids? Am I happy in the life I have created for myself over the past three decades? Am I too old to wear a mini-dress with little mushrooms on it?


I have few comments on the Cleo dress pattern. Overall, I think it’s cute though I’m still not sure whether the style actually suits me. The dress was a quick make- two evenings in total, including plenty of mistakes and unpicking. I think the most time-consuming part was sewing all the patch pockets. I found Tilly’s tips on working with corduroy very helpful.

I made the size 2, but I probably should have just gone for the 3. I let the side seams out a bit as the dress looks nicer on me with a bit more room around the hip area. I made the dress quite short, the hem was over two inches.

I can see no reason not to add in-seam pockets to this dress. I may add afterthought pockets to this mushroom dress if I feel it’s going to get a lot of wear.

Pattern: Cleo by Tilly and the Buttons

Fabric: 2m needlecord in print, plus 0.5m in plain. I had leftovers of both


I’m doing yet another set of sewing workshops at Sew Over It. After this, I need to spend some time consolidating my skills on my shiny new machine. This time, I am dedicating three Tuesday evenings to making their Ultimate Shirt.

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I can only aspire to look as beautiful as Lisa Comfort in mine.

As usual, most of the three-hour class was dedicated to modifying the pattern and cutting out. I used less than 1.5m of fabric to cut a size 14, which will save me money if I want to make more shirts in future (and I really hope I will).


So far, the only sewing has been starting the collar.



I’m using a delicate cotton voile so I’m even more afraid of making mistakes than normal. Unpicking isn’t really an option. 


A few months ago I went a little wild in Liberty and spent an eye-watering amount on this stunning fabric and pattern to make a very special dress.

Anna was very patient with me while I literally looked at every piece of fabric in the shop. Twice.

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However, even at the time I think I knew that I wasn’t ready to tackle such a project solo. The fabric sits beautiful and unruined on my shelf, bursting with potential triumph and disaster.

I decided to try a practice run with the pattern before taking scissors to the Liberty print. As well as some lovely silk, I bought two three-yard lengths of rayon batik when I was in Indonesia. Although the fabric wasn’t exactly cheap, it was very reasonable by British standards so I’m going to risk it for a biscuit. Or a macaron. I am so sorry.

I picked up a metre of pale blue rayon from Goldhawk Road as the contrast fabric. You can’t really tell in this picture, but the shade of blue echoes some of the blues in the batik pattern. I hardly ever wear pink, but I couldn’t resist the beautiful floral design, even though I am trying to add more solid colours to my wardrobe.

Since rayon isn’t really machine washable, I have not pre-washed either fabric. However, I did give both a very thorough steam pressing before cutting out the pattern pieces.

There are a LOT of pattern pieces. However, the instructions seem very comprehensive so I’m hoping I won’t make too much of a hash of this.

The blue fabric- I wish I remember what the man in the shop called it- is very slippery and I found it difficult even to cut. I have a feeling I am going to struggle to work with it. I think I will have a go next time I have some sewing time, but I may have to get some cotton poplin or something instead. This wouldn’t be the end of the world as I’m not 100% sold on the blue contrast so I could change colours.

I doubt I’ll get any sewing time until the Easter holidays now. I’ll try to get some good machine time in so I can finish my denim dress and get a decent start on this one.


Wow, 2015 has really been the year of sewing for me. My latest finished garment is this polkadot dress that I started ages ago. This is definitely more mum’s creation than mine but I like the retro nurse look. The pics were taken on my recent jaunt to Rome.


Even with the front and back darts I prefer the look of this dress with a belt. I love love love the rainbow bias binding.

Here’s a closer shot of the top and collar. I got the buttons from the Joan Miro museum in Barcelona. Excuse my rapturous facial expression, this was life-changing gelato.