Hey guys,

Not only am I rubbish at keeping on top of blogging, I have also not done the sewing I wanted to this summer. I have made a few faeries, and taken up Pyrography (wood burning is so much fun) and read a lot.

This last week has been full of plans. Tomorrow, I start my first teaching job so much of the planning has been for that. I have 2 year 7 classes, 3 year 8, 2 year 9 and a year 10 group, so I have a lot to plan for. My first fortnight of teaching is planned and ready to go. scary!

I have also started semi-bullet journal-ing. I need to get fitter and more active so have made a plan for a new morning routine, taken up yoga and a healthy eating plan. I feel so much better after yoga and the healthy eating is hard but will be worth it.

Finally, this week I have been planning sewing. I don’t have many items of work  wear that I like or that have been homemade. A few months back I rescued a piece of patterned viscose fabric from the remnants bin in abakhan (the new one near me!!) and couldn’t think of what to do with it. I thought about a dress but its not quite enough. My current thinking is use the fabric to make the skirt part of a Bettine dress (lengthened to knee length) and use a plain viscose for the top part.

I also have a few of the items mentioned in my last blog post to get on with and I fancy a new Arielle (shh don’t tell my mother, I still can’t get her Arielle skirt lining to match up).

anyway, that’s it from me for now. I just needed to get a blog written really. soon I hope to be back in the swing of things.

I’ll be back

The Little (Planning) Owl




So that’s it. As I write, I have nearly completed my teacher training year. Nearly a whole academic year has passed since I last Blogged, which means it has been over an academic year since I sewed anything. I have 2 weeks of my course, then 2 weeks of NQT training at my new school (yes, I have a job for September), then its summer.

The glorious summer holidays! Oh, the things I’m going to sew!

So far, the list stands thusly:

  • fix my floral dungarees (they are a shop bought marvel, but the button popped off)
  • woodland cotton skirt
  • orange key hole blouse
  • Marigold trousers
  • cream lace t-shirt
  • Tartan sleeveless Bettine hack
  • purple Agnes top
  • cream Agnes top
  • pink Megan dress
  • Fifi pjs

the list is actually longer but I figured, y’know, be realistic (HA!)

I’m hoping to really knuckle down to this and also hopefully go on a longer sewing bender with the girls soon. we are choosing to call it a creative retreat.

OOOHHHH, also a new Abakhans has opened up very close to me. Believe me when I say I am all over this.

I should be back properly soon folks.

Your support and patience is massively appreciated





The ‘Never Again’ Top

If you are a regular reader you will already be aware that my love for Tilly and The Buttons patterns runs strong and deep. She produces brilliantly designed, easy to wear, day to day clothes patterns and is easily my favourite indie designer. I try to make as many of her patterns as I physically can. Those of you with particularly excellent memories may recall the time I was very grown up and traced some patterns one winter eve. One of those patterns was from ‘Love Sewing’ magazine but was in fact an early version of the Mathilde blouse from TATB. This one did not include tucks down the front, but I figured that would make things easier as I’ve never sewn tucks.

I’d bought some gorgeous floral cotton at the sewing show last year and was saving it for a summer top. It seemed like a match made in heaven. The fabric wasn’t quite wide enough to do the full sleeve, but I was planning on changing the sleeve to a shorter floatier one anyway. I had some little wooden buttons to go down the back and decided to forgo the suggested piping at the yolk and replace it with a line of burgundy velvet ribbon which I got for Christmas from Imogen. Adapted Mathilde was a go, so I cut her out and got to work.


All was going swimmingly. The front pieces and back went together like a dream, however I noticed that the front neckline sat very high on me. So I removed the facing chopped it down and faced it with cream bias binding; much better.

My issues really began with the sleeves. I’m going to come right out and say it : I hate set in sleeves. We do not get on at all. Give me a raglan or flat sewn sleeve any day. But I was determined to make these sleeves work. I own too many tops without sleeves and wanted something that covered my shoulders so I could wear it for work, as many places are particular about shoulders on display. So I persevered and persevered, and even enlisted an expert. my attempts to insert them yielded a poor fit across the front. The darts were now in completely the wrong place. It had to be something I was doing wrong. So I asked the wife of my mum’s cousin (tenuous links I know) who is a seamstress to help. She tried re-setting them. Still no dice. I was forced to conclude that the sleeves just do not fit well. I removed them completely and faced the armholes with cream binding as I had the neckline.

My next issue came from the button holes. As those of you who know me will be aware, I hate maths and the free magazine pattern had not come with a piece indicating the placement of buttonholes. Rats! This meant working out the size and distance between the button holes myself. Drat, darn and dagnabbit! This took me literal days. Longer than the sleeve conundrum and neckline issues put together. I believe my head just wasn’t in the right place to work that out by that point. But I eventually managed it with the help of my mum and my patient other half, and the buttons fit nicely.

Then there was the matter of the sleeves (or rather, the lack thereof). I still wanted my shoulder covered so I bought some gorgeous lace from Abakhan’s thinking of pretty pleats to form gentle Victoriana -style caps. I pinned it on and something wasn’t right. She sat on Rosalind for nearly a week before a solution presented itself. It was in fact my friend Leila who helped with this one while she was staying over on a crafting bender (about which more soon). “It’s a bit twee” she pointed out, quite rightly. It was. It was twee, and cutesy and belonged in the wardrobe of a five year old. She made the brilliant suggestion of a small bow of the burgundy ribbon on the left hand side to keep it simple. I threw the lace to my sewing box and hand-stitched the ribbon on.

Here she is. She is chic, pretty, summery and I’m never making her again. She was more trouble than she was worth. I’m sorry Tilly, maybe its just me. I just hope the Fifi Pjs work out better for me.


(apologies for the trainer. one day I’ll be able to take decent photos. but it is not this day)




A very wearable toile

So as many of you will have gathered from my post about the shrinking Bettine dress, I have many bad sewing habits. These range from not pre-washing my fabric to ignoring notches (about which more soon). One of my bad habits is not making toiles before I make garments.

For those of you unfamiliar with this term, a toile (pronounced twahl) is like a mock up of a garment made to assess fit, usually in a cheap fabric called muslin. However, one may also make a wearable toile from a cheaper but similar fabric to the one you plan on using eventually. I never usually make either of these. Usually I see a pattern as either a first time lucky make or one that I will get better at making with subsequent attempts if the first doesn’t work. I also try to buy cheap fabric anyway so I don’t have to worry too much about messing it up.

However, because I had just under 2 metres of some lightweight rayon, this time I decided that I should try a wearable toile of a pattern I’d had my eye on for a while. The pattern in question is one of my famously ambiguous freebies from ‘Love Sewing’ Magazine, the Key hole blouse. I thought it would be a nice top for work and casual wear,so the perfect addition to my home made wardrobe. It has the option to put pleats down the front, three sleeve lengths and has a cute pleat at the back of the neck (which it turns out is totally necessary- who knew?). I opted for no pleats, 3/4 length sleeves, and not to make my own binding but to go with a plain black shop bought one.

I just about squeezed the pieces out. I had slightly less than I thought. The fabric was a slippery thing from one of the remnants baskets in abakhans in Manchester. It moved a lot while I was pinning and cutting so it probably wasn’t as accurate as it could have been. But I cut it, pinned it, sewed it.  AND WORE IT!


It is a work in progress. The key hole opening is too large, but I can wear a vest or bandeau top underneath to hide gratuitous cleavage. I will make this smaller in future versions. The bias bound neckline is too thin and done in a rather haphazard way (due to its narrowness – twas the only binding I had). This is being redone as I type (well not literally, I only have two arms) and will be remedied in future versions with a wider, better quality binding. Also the curved hem was stupidly difficult to sew. In my next attempt I’m going to use bias binding as a facing to hem it. Hopefully this will make the curve easier. I also took the bias tape across the key hole in by about a centimetre just to decrease the gaping hole across my chest.

But generally, I love it. I wore it to lunch with my boyfriend and then to an open air Shakespeare performance that my friend was in last week. It was light and comfortable, looked really good with jeans and I think she is gonna be a firm favourite year round.

My next version will be orange. I’m very excited.



Dinosaur PJs

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I really love the movie Jurassic Park and dinosaurs in general. A while ago I saw an item of clothing that I knew I needed in my wardrobe, desperately. Dinosaur print PJs.

As you saw in one of my previous posts I traced off the Margot pyjamas from Tilly Walnes’ book ‘Love at first stitch’, so I already had the pattern handy. Then a few weeks ago I was rummaging in a charity shop (this particular shop is in Urmston and has the uncanny knack of always having exactly what you are looking for) and I hit the upcycling jackpot. I found a bedsheet set (single duvet cover and pillowcase). white cotton, printed with green dinosaurs. £2.99. A steal. It became mine.

Side note, I really enjoy making things from pre-existing items like bed linen. It’s incredibly satisfying to give something a new lease of life as a garment. I like to think of it as liberating the fabric, allowing it to find its potential. But then, I am a tad pretentious.

Then last week I had a big cut of fabric and cut out the dinosaur fabric using the Margot pattern. I decided to shorten them to just below the knee, and make a matching button up shirt from the GBSB book (bowling shirt) to make a nice lightweight summer pj set. But to begin with, Margot.

Construction was basic. Sew the front and back of each leg together then turn one the right way round and put it inside the other leg to sew the crotch. Then I made a small hem to the top, so that my casing line for my elastic wasn’t a raw edge. I inserted some 3cm wide elastic and closed the casing gap.

dino pjs 1


I had waited until this stage to shorten them so I was sure I had the fit right. I cut the bottoms off with pinking shears and turned the hem up about 2cm. And somehow I still managed to cut one side shorter than the other. ah well.



I also sewed in a little tag of green satin (left over from the Merida dress) at the back to remind me which way round they go.

dino pjs 2


Overall, I’m really pleased with them; they are comfy and cool, were quick to make (took me about 2 hours) and most importantly, they have dinosaurs on them. I can’t wait to trace the Bowling shirt pattern to make it a matching set.As they were so quick to whip up, my other half may get a pair of these pants for xmas though. Watch out Jack.

dino pjs 4



Meet Rosalind

A while ago my mum asked what I’d like for my birthday. Usually I would um and ah for a few weeks before saying “surprises”. Then a week before my birthday I would think of something and it would be too late. Not so this year. I had wanted an adjustable mannequin for ages so when the question came I had my answer ready. My family all decided to chip in, and I was able to select the mannequin for myself. Many I looked at online either didn’t cater to my exact measurements or I was barely within their boundaries.

But finally I found one. The measurements started a few inches below mine and went up to a good few inches above. I like to call this wiggle room. She is printed with little pink roses and has a hem marker. As is my tradition, I have named her. This took more thought than finding her to tell the truth. My sewing machine is called Guinevere due to my love for Arthurian Literature. This time I wanted to commemorate my love of Shakespeare, but none of the names seemed to fit. Until I thought back to the Shakespeare play that started it all; As You Like It, and decided to name her after the main character.

So here she is. Say hello to Rosalind!


I’ve already had lots of fun dressing her up as you can see. Here she is  sporting a home made outfit (TATB Arielle skirt and a Simplicity sleeveless blouse, which you may remember from previous posts).

rosalind dressed

I have lots of plans for sewing to come so you will certainly be seeing much more of her in the future.


A Jersey Bettine

I’m back guys! New laptop! New Blog post!

So, a lot of people had been raving about the beauty of making a Bettine dress from Tilly and the buttons from jersey, and I was super curious.

The fuss was perfectly justifiable.I love her.I got the fabric from Abakhans Mostyn. It’s a lovely black cotton jersey with flowers on it; super soft, super lightweight, super comfy.

I opted to make the version with pockets as I don’t see the point of a dress without them. This was against Tilly’s advice but it worked out quite well. I made a neckband for the first time (replacing the facing) which could have been neater but I don’t think it’s at all bad for a first go.

The one piece of sewing advice I never follow is “pre-wash your fabric before you cut and sew”. This is the first time ignoring this advice has ever come back to bite me. I had lengthened the skirt by about 3 inches which placed the hem just on my knee (my perfect length). I wore it once then put it in the wash. when I went to wear it a few days ago, however, I noticed that the hem had risen by about 3-4 inches. It is now VERY short. I might try ironing it to stretch it but its not looking good.

Apart from that she is definitely a keeper. I’m seeing tights and boots come winter…

I also found these cute retro style buttons. What do you think?

bettine 8

so that’s it for now folks. I should be getting up to date very soon. And you can meet a very exciting addition to the sewing family who you’ve already had a sneak preview of in this post….