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Burda plaid skirt (again) and Goldhawk Road

April 9, 2014

Oh hey there! What’s new? I’ve just been hanging out in front of my house, catching some spring rays.

Kew Palace skirt

Oh alright, that’s not really my house, it’s Kew Palace. But don’t you think it coordinates rather nicely with my new skirt?

This skirt has been a long time in the making. With my usual stunning timing, I bought the fabric on a Goldhawk Road shopping trip in September, thinking it would be perfect for autumn.

I cut out the pieces in December, and didn’t get round to sewing them until March, just in time for spring. Which is no longer the perfect season for a lined wool tartan skirt.

Well, this skirt may be distinctly autumnal in hue, but I think I can wear it for a bit longer. It camouflaged well with the Kew Gardens foliage anyway.

Kew gardens skirt 2

Pattern details:

The pattern is Burda 02/2010, and you may recognise it from an earlier version.

This skirt is a replacement for that previous one, which I sadly shrank in the wash. It’s the perfect A-line skirt pattern.

As with any plaid, the cutting out was tedious beyond belief. I laid out all the pieces on a single layer of fabric to make matching the stripes a bit easier, and cut the pockets and waistband on the bias to avoid having to match those.

My skirt has pockets

Flowers kew gardens

Lining and zip:

I neglected to take any pictures of the inside but I lined it with a lovely heavy brown fabric which was also purchased on Goldhawk Road.

I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s a lot heftier than any polyester lining I’ve used before, and actually nice to sew with. Which makes a change.

Excuse the boasting, but I just have to point out my pattern matching skillz on the back (please to ignore the wrinkles and stray bits of thread.)

skirt stripe matching back

I used the Crescent skirt sewalong zipper method which is my fave for lined skirts. After avoiding the cut-out pieces for so long, the whole thing only took one evening to put together. I even hand-hemmed it which is pretty rare for me.

Speaking of rarities, isn’t it nice to see a different photo backdrop on this blog? I’m afraid it’s probably back to depressing grey hallway pictures soon, so don’t get too used to it.

kew skirt 3

My favourite thing about this skirt is the number of different colours in the plaid.

I spotted it at the bottom of a pile in Classic Textiles (I think), and it goes with nearly every one of my jumpers. Stylish AND versatile! I like it.

Here’s some more colours from Kew Gardens in homage:

purple tulips

Chairs at Kew Palace Kitchens

Is it too late to save Goldhawk Road?

Kew Gardens may be a London landmark, but so are the textile shops on Goldhawk Road, where I bought the fabric to make this skirt. And those shops are still in danger of demolition.

Depressingly, from this article it seems like the area will definitely be redeveloped, but I’m hoping there’s still a chance the shops can be saved. There’s a Facebook group here which is campaigning against the changes.

It’s a shocking state of affairs when well-loved and well-used local businesses can be torn down to make way for 194 luxury apartments‘, but billionaires can buy rotting mansions as investments and let them sit empty and unused. London property prices are out of control and it’s changing the face of the city.

I have no ideas on whether’s there’s anything we can do about this apart from making voodoo dolls of local politicians. If anyone has practical suggestions I’d love to hear them.

Triple sewing news excitement

April 2, 2014

I logged into WordPress for the first time in ages yesterday, and couldn’t believe that I haven’t blogged for nearly a month. A whole month!

I haven’t had twins, become the new head of the UN, been working shifts on oil rigs or taken up dry-stone walling. So I’m not entirely sure where the time has gone.

I don’t even know if anyone is still reading this blog apart from my Mum (hi Mum.)

Anyway, whether I’m just talking into the void or not, I’m back now and there’s lots of exciting sewing related news to talk about. So hold on to your hats:


By Hand London Kickstarter project


You must have already heard that the multi-talented women from By Hand London are setting up their own fabric printing business. They have a Kickstarter set up here, and they’re so close to their target with just 9 days left. So go and pledge now!


Minerva Crafts Meetup

I am attending the Minerva Crafts Meet-Up

Another amazing craft business to shout about. The wonderful Vicki from Minerva is organising a meet-up in sunny Darwen on the 14th June (no, not that Darwin, it’s actually in Lancashire).

I’ll definitely be there rocking a new homemade dress, I hope you can come along.


Me-Made-May 2014


After last year’s triumphant Me Made May, I’m so in for this year.

Although I wear homemade clothing nearly every day, MMM always helps me to come up with new outfits, encourages me to fill gaps in my home-sewn wardrobe, and gives me tons and tons of inspiration. My favourite part is checking the Flickr group and seeing what everyone else is wearing and making.

One more thing…


And it’s my favourite time of year. I remember being freezing nearly every day of last May so I’m loving the sunshine.


Have you started your spring sewing yet?

Tiny Dancer Flora Dress from By Hand London

March 9, 2014

Hey guys! It’s been too long since we talked, but I finally have a new dress to show you, not to mention a whole new haircut.

Flora 1

Recognise this little number? Yes, it’s the new By Hand London pattern, Flora, and once again the ladies have totally smashed it. I predict this will be the sewing sensation of 2014.

I have to admit I was  a bit hesitant about making this one. I loved the design but I wasn’t sure about the high-lo hem. My opinions on my knees are similar to those of Coco Chanel – I prefer them covered by either fabric or black tights.

flora side

But actually, I love the drafting of the skirt. It’s got really deep pleats so it feels very floaty to wear, and spins out around you when you move.

My fabric was very kindly provided by Raystitch, and it’s an amazing Liberty print called Tiny Dancer. Check it out:

fabric close-up

It’s covered with lines of dancing men and women in unitards, giving it the full Martha Graham. HOW AMAZING IS THAT. Raystitch do have a beautiful range of more traditional floral Liberty prints too, but I couldn’t resist this one.

I did try recreating some of the poses for you, but the results really weren’t good. I couldn’t bring myself to put them on the internet for future employers to discover. Ask me in the pub sometime and I’ll show you.

flora 4

Seemingly I did manage the old ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ though

I had to make a couple of fit alterations – lengthening the bodice two inches, as usual, and also sewing a larger back pattern than front. The fabric was a tiny bit too narrow for the full back skirt, so I just shaved a bit off the side.

The pattern asks you to clip into the seam allowance and then stitch the armholes closed by hand. That was way too much hand-sewing for me, so I just finished the armholes with bias binding. I got away with it as the fabric is so light.

flora back

I didn’t do full-on pattern matching but I did try and make sure the lines of dancing people matched on each side of the zip. It looks as though they are jeté-ing their way around my torso, which is awesome.

The back isn’t really ill-fitting by the way, I’m just standing weirdly.

I really love this wrap-effect bodice. I interfaced and stay-stitched the edges so they wouldn’t stretch out of shape, and I also understitched the lining.

flora 3

Basically, this is the perfect summer dress and for once I’ve made it in time for the right season!

Huge thanks to By Hand London for providing the pattern and Raystitch for providing the beautiful fabric.

Double denim shirt success: tracing my own pattern

February 18, 2014

I’ve cracked it!

At least, I think I have. I’ll let you decide. Here’s what I’m talking about:

alex double denim

I’ve finally managed to make a shirt for my husband that fits.

You might remember my first attempt was not a success. After another failed muslin of Burda 7045 I decided to give it up as a bad job and trace one of his existing shirts.

This was a solution suggested by the shirt guru David Coffin who actually commented on my original post, but I have to admit I was dubious I could make it work. I just didn’t trust my own tracing skills. I also suspected it would be deeply tedious and fiddly, so I put it off for a couple of months before giving it a go.

I used the method David explains in this video tutorial.but with cardboard instead of foamboard because it’s all I had lying around.

photo (2)

Yes I do have to trace and cut out all my patterns on the floor, which is not doing wonders for my posture.

Do you know what’s weird though? I really enjoyed the tracing process. It was like taking an omelette and turning it back into a fresh egg. I’ve always seen the process the other way round and couldn’t quite believe it worked in reverse.

The fabric I used is a lovely denim that Rosie from DIY Couture kindly sent me when she was having a fabric clear-out. The buttons were 10p each from Ultimate Craft. And the pattern was, obviously, free. So this was a thrifty project.

shirt front

I now see I’ve sewed that left button on too high. Hmph.

This was intended to be a muslin but the fabric was so nice I couldn’t resist doing it properly, although some bits are slightly wonky.

I saved time by using this method to do the plackets, although really this fabric is far too bulky for it. It worked out okay, but for the next shirt I’m going to tackle a proper placket.

shirt placket

I did do a lovely clean finish on the yoke, using the ‘burrito’ method. It’s hard to describe but very easy to do, and it looks so neat.

shirt yoke

denim shirt back

I probably should have ironed the shirt before forcing Alex into a photoshoot. Anyway, I think the fit is okay, but I’m not sure if I should bring the shoulders in a bit? There’s some alarming wrinkling round the armscye area but I don’t know if this is normal for men’s shirts. What do you reckon?

The sleeves are the only bit I’m not sure I traced correctly. I should have marked the shoulder point, as the yoke is coming too far back. The top button on the stand is also straining a bit, so I think it might need more room added to the armhole. 

shirt pocket

This uneven two-button pocket was my only artistic flourish. Predictably, Alex doesn’t like it, but that’s tough. If you’re getting a shirt for free, the shirtmaker decides on the design, that’s my thinking.

Overall, I think this counts as a DOUBLE THUMBS UP SUCCESS! I also enjoyed being on the other side of the camera for a change and bossing Alex about.

alex double denim 2

The only issue is that Alex really doesn’t need any more denim or chambray shirts. I just counted and he’s already got 5. At least he’s a man who knows his own taste. The next one is going to be a plaid, so I’m limbering up my check matching skills.

I need a short break from shirtland first though. This one was made in an epic weekend sewing session, and I don’t want to see another buttonhole again for a while.

Two Moss skirts (and bonus Hemlock)

February 10, 2014

I tried really hard to come up with a moss related pun for the title of this post, but sadly the brain cells are running dry. It is Sunday night after all.

I made my first denim Moss skirt in Nov 2012. It’s done valiant service but it’s nearly ready for the great charity shop in the sky. Here are a couple of replacements I sewed just before Christmas.

The first one is made from blue wool left over from this pencil skirt:

blue moss 2

The wool is a tiny bit too lightweight for this pattern, but it’s nice and warm. The top is another Grainline special, the free Hemlock tee. This is an amazingly fast pattern to sew, even for a slowcoach like me.

I added a small useless pocket as per usual. If you can add a tiny useless pocket, you should add a tiny useless pocket, that’s my motto in life.

blue moss 1

Here’s the second Moss, which is also made from leftover fabric, this time from my spotty trousers. I only just barely managed to squeeze the pattern pieces out of the remnant I had left.

spotty moss 2

I love this dotty skirt. I’ve been wearing it all the time. Winter is the only time I wear mini skirts, but luckily there’s no shortage of winter weather around here at the moment. As long as it’s cold enough to wear fleece lined tights, I’ll be wearing short skirts (second life motto there for you).

I’ve found it quite hard to adjust the Moss pattern to suit my shape, and I’ve hacked it around so much I’m going to have to print out another version, which is one advantage to pdf patterns. I think the secret for me is stretch fabric – probably why this dotty one is my fave.

I had the perfect big white button in my stash for the waistband:

spotty moss 1

Get your own Moss skirt pattern here. I can’t wait to see what Jen from Grainline comes up with next (and I still need to make an Archer shirt…)

Minerva blogging network: Leopard print Plantain

February 5, 2014

What is it about elbow patches that’s so appealing? You can’t see them when you’re wearing them. They bring up memories of geography teachers. And they’re not very useful, unless you salute people for a living, or have another job where you frequently bend your arms at a sharp angle.

But somehow they still make a garment totally irresistible. They’re the main reason I sewed up the new Deer & Doe Plantain top for my latest Minerva project.

top 2
You can see my post on the Minerva Network here, and buy the kit for this project here.

The fabric is a really nice thick double-knit, with thin stripes on the reverse. I turned up the cuffs to show the two sides:

top cuff

Here’s the enhanced elbow patch close-up. You can see the major error I made with this top, which was to make it way too tight.

I should have sized up as this fabric isn’t very stretchy. It’s still wearable, but if I make it again with a thick knit I’ll reduce the seam allowance.

back of top

I finished the neckline with stretch lycra binding from Minerva Crafts which is my new favourite thing. This pattern has a very low neckline, it must be the French influence. I hoicked it up an inch when cutting out.

Here’s the front where you can see my standard ‘take the photo already’ face.

top 1

And that’s everything. Apart from one last thing – I miss blogging!

I’ve been so busy in January with a new job and various other New Year type things that I haven’t had a chance to write any posts.

I have tons of sewing projects to post about and lots of half-finished screeds in my head, but no time to get them out into the world. This sucks. Hopefully I’ll be back to a regular blogging schedule soon.

p.s. did you see the Great British Sewing Bee starts again in two weeks?? I am seriously, sadly excited about this.

New Liberty Prints Spring/Summer 2014

January 17, 2014

How’s everyone holding up this January? I’m doing okay, thanks for asking. Unlike the Arctic temperatures of 2013, the weather in London is surprisingly mild. Also, I haven’t pledged to give up alcohol/sugar/fatty foods so I’ve been consuming all three with gusto, which always helps.

To be honest I think February and March are probably the worst months of the year anyway. It’s a long slog until the Easter bank holidays.

Anyway, enough misery, here’s something to cheer you up. Liberty have released their new range of fabrics for 2014!

It’s based on the London store, with different designs representing each department. This is my favourite, and I don’t usually like novelty fabrics. But I’ve fallen hard for this one:


It’s ‘Forget-me-Nots’, and it’s based on the contents of a lady’s handbag, although for some reason they have left out the lidless biros, crumpled up tissues and chocolate bar wrappers that live at the bottom of my bag. I love how meta it is with the tiny Liberty prints on the hairspray, notebook and purse.

It comes in four colourways but this lilac and yellow one is my fave. If you like it, for heavens sake don’t buy it for £22 on the Liberty site, you can get it for £14.25 a metre at Shaukat here.

Here’s my second favourite, called ‘Holly’:


It’s based on the texture of ripped jeans, overlaid with splattered ink. I love the more abstract Liberty prints and this is a beauty. You can buy it from Shaukat here.

The rest of the collection is all very nice, but has lots of little floral prints which aren’t really my thing. You can see the whole range here.

Incidentally, did you saw the recent TV documentary about Liberty? One jaw-dropping fact that I can’t stop thinking about is that their top customers spend over £40,000 a year there. I’m not sure whether to feel disgusted or envious about this. I definitely wouldn’t pass up the chance to do a Supermarket Sweep style trolley dash in Liberty.

p.s. how do you all feel about sewing with Liberty lawn? It has a very crisp, almost cold feel to it for such a delicate fabric, with not much drape. I think it can be tricky matching it to the right pattern – sometimes I prefer it as an accent rather than a full garment. The prints are so gorgeous though…


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