Three and a half Ilsley Skirts

I’ve been sitting on these photos for months, but seeing the lovely Marilla recently made me realise it was time to share them with the world. This post is a tribute to her Ilsley Skirt, one of my favourite patterns ever.

It’s incredibly versatile. Not to mention, completely free. Can’t say fairer than that. I’ve made three (and a half) versions so far. Read on for the full thrilling details.

Skirt no 1: Made from some cheap viscose from Fabricland (who have an all new website!! :O :O :O :O :O I can’t lie, I am in mourning for the old one, crazy gifs and all).

geometric skirt

So when I printed out the pattern I didn’t check the tension square (oops) and accidentally made it about 30% bigger than it’s supposed to be. Hence I was puzzled when this skirt turned out to be enormous. However, an elasticated waist solves everything, and it still looks okay.

The ribbon at the front is entirely non-functional, although I did make buttonholes for it and everything. I actually matched the print on the side seams too, not that I remembered to take a photo to prove this. You’ll just have to trust me, alright? Honestly, so suspicious.

Skirt no 2: Dyed cotton.

navy skirt

I bought this fabric many years ago at a Peter Jensen sample sale, and made this shirt out of. It was beige and I dyed the leftovers navy, because I realised that beige is an awful, awful colour (I also rarely wear the shirt for the same reason).

By this point I’d twigged that I’d printed out the pattern wrong, so I cut down the sides and the waistband to make it a more sensible size.

This was a great summer skirt but unfortunately, it’s been the victim of some mystery grease staining (I suspect a kebab in Berlin was involved) so it may not be long for this world. It has served nobly and deserves a ceremonial burial.

I made the top too, it’s a Grainline hemlock from some mystery Fabricland jersey and I wear it all the time.

Skirt no 3: Black crepe from Sew Over It (link is to the navy version, they seem to have run out of black at the moment). 


black skirt

I made this skirt after realising that I didn’t own any black clothing, and that I had a metre of black crepe that I didn’t know what to do with.

Yes, black is boring to sew (and even worse to photograph) but this skirt has been very useful and you can even wear it with tights. Amazing.


illsley skirt

So this was inspired by a skirt I bought from Other Stories, and wear all the time – a short, pleated skirt made out of a navy printed viscose fabric.

My version is made of a tiny remnant I had left over from making these trousers.

I measured the waistband of the ready-to-wear skirt and cut mine to be the same length. I then just used a shortened version of the Illsley pattern for the skirt pieces, and gathered them to match the waistband, putting an invisible zipper on one side. I didn’t have to buy anything for this project which makes it a winner in my eyes.

I only have this bad Instagram photo of it though, sorry 😦 Also you can see that my ‘smiling in photos’ skill is a bit limited. I’m working on it.


Go right now and download the Ilsley skirt, and donate some money to charity as a thank you to Marilla while you’re there, if you can 🙂

Gold ‘wrap’ skirt – Burda 12/2015 #115

I made a gold skirt at Christmas – and here it is. It’s taken me less than 6 months to blog about it so I’m still technically on schedule, as we’re closer to Xmas 2015 than to Xmas 2016. Just.

gold burda skirt front 2

The pattern is from Burda December 2015 – it’s on their website here.

The fabric is some extremely cheap glittery gold polyester which I bought at the Harrogate knitting and stitching show, I got about 4 metres. I didn’t bother pre-washing it as I suspected that all the gold would fall straight off. In fact I still haven’t washed it. But I have only worn it once. It turns out that metallic gold skirts don’t get a lot of wear from January to April. Maybe I can bust it out again this summer though.

skirt burda front gold

It’s a really great pattern actually. It’s called a ‘wrap skirt’ but it’s actually just a stitched down pleat that sits underneath a yoke and waistband. In no way does it ‘wrap’. Burda, stop trying to deceive us. It’s bad enough that you torture us with your pattern instructions, which seem to have been translated from German by someone who has recently taken four weeks of ‘Speak English for fun and profit!’ evening classes.

This fabric was not very easy to iron so I ended up topstitching most of the seams down.

gold burda skirt on a hanger

This photo shows how the pleat works. The facings aren’t attached to the body of the skirt at all.

gold burda skirt pleat

I put an exposed zipper on this which was probably a mistake – the fabric is a bit too lightweight and the zip is a bit too heavy. The waistband fastens with a button on the back.

gold burda skirt back on hanger

The pattern actually makes a mid-calf length skirt, which I did cut out, but I ended up chopping off most of it and making it into a mini skirt. Some lovely people on Instagram helped me decide whether to go long or short.

skirt short or long

Please do excuse the hastily pinned up hems.

I would like to make the longer version again soon, especially after going to all the effort of tracing the pattern out and adding all the seam allowances.

I keep looking at Burda patterns for coats and stuff that have about 15 pattern pieces, but my brain just shuts down at the thought of tracing out alllllll of those facings and fiddly little pieces. Maybe one day. At the moment, 5 pattern pieces is about my limit for Burda.

Here is a terrible quality selfie I took on the only occasion this skirt has been out of the house so far, a work Christmas party. But you can sort of see the sparkle.

gold skirt at christmas

If you are a fan of this fabric, my sister has also made a dress out of it which looks really awesome.

It wasn’t the nicest thing in the world to sew with, and I have no idea what I’ll do with the 2 metres I have left. A gold jacket? Some kind of mad gold shirt that will be the sweatiest thing ever? Most likely it will sit on my shelf until I do some panic sewing next Christmas. Metallic clothes seem like such a great idea until January 1st when reality hits.

Two jersey dresses – Simplicity 2054

T-shirt dresses are probably my favourite thing ever to sew. No darts, no zips, no buttons, four seams and a hem, job done.

Here’s two I made in 2015 and have only just got round to taking photos of. Let’s have a look and then I can bore you with my musings on jersey dresses in general.

Dress 1: Kimono sleeve monochrome madness

black and white dress front

This dress is made from some weird houndstooth viscose jersey I bought in Fabricland in Bournemouth ages ago.

The pattern is just my trusty Burdastyle kimono sleeve top lengthened into a dress. I shortened the sleeves a bit and added another sleeve piece just above the elbow.

black and white dress back

I’m not 100% sure about this – I think the fabric is teetering just on the wrong edge of wacky. Also it’s a bit too tight. It’s a fine line with these really thin viscose-type jerseys.

I’ve worn it quite a bit though anyway.

By the way I normally just use a straight stitch to hem these, after overlocking the bottom edge and turning it up – if you pull the fabric as you go it seems to work fine.  A zigzag stitch sometimes gets weirdly stretched out on thin knit fabrics.

Dress no 2: Portuguese kaleidoscope/wormhole in space fabric

jersey dress front

This is made from some jersey I bought in a fabric shop in Porto in June. This shop was seriously AMAZING, and the Air BNB we rented was 5 minutes away.

I went a couple of times and also bought a remnant that ended up being this skirt. I could have bought my own bodyweight in fabric but Easyjet luggage limits stopped me. 😦

This is the shop if you happen to be in Porto sometime (and I recommend going! It’s brilliant. The local delicacy is called a ‘franceschina‘, and it’s basically a cheese and meat toastie soaked in gravy, it’s something the Scots would have invented if they’d thought of it first so I felt right at home. Also they sell caipirinhas everywhere for like 3 euros).

The fabric is so great I wanted a really simple shape, so I used Simplicity 2054 which is a Cynthia Rowley pattern.

jersey dress back
The sleeves are the same length really, I don’t know what happened here. Obviously was trying to casually roll up one sleeve for extra fashion points.

Sorry about the poor lighting on these photos, I probably could have done something about it in Photoshop but you get the general idea.

This fabric is amazingly insane. I love it.

Necklines on jersey dresses:

So the biggest thing that stands out to me about these dresses is that I finished them both with quite high necks.

I used to always cut this kind of jersey thing with a lower scoop neck, but recently I’ve been liking these higher necklines. I know I’m about a year behind the high street on this one but they seem more modern.

This is about as high as I can go though, I tried on a poloneck in Topshop the other day and it was not good. I have a long face anyway so the whole effect is of a giant rectangle perched on top of my torso. FLATTERING.

Anyway I have a big burn scar on my neck and collarbone area which I got about 11 years ago. For a year or two after it happened I was self-conscious about it (it was a lot redder and also painful then). I pretty much only wore high-necked tops and jumpers.

Now I literally don’t give it a second thought, but it almost feels strange to cover it up again after all this time. But in general I like the higher neckline. Anybody else feeling the same?

Jersey dresses in general:

I wear these a lot because they are extremely comfortable and go with my extensive collection of winter tights. However I’m not sure if they’re the most flattering thing in the world. Also the viscose jerseys don’t cope that well with being washed loads of times, but they are so quick to make it doesn’t bother me too much.

I get the most compliments on the second dress, all because of the fabric, which just shows there’s no point trying to be clever with the pattern when you’ve got an amazing print.

The black and white one has garnered no compliments. It does get quite a lot of comments along the lines of ‘I guess you made that’, which isn’t exactly the same…

black and white dress front 2
Poor unloved black and white dress. As you can see I have a habit of rolling up one sleeve more than the other. Maybe this will catch on in 2016 and I’ll be a trendsetter at last.

Why I stopped blogging reasons 1-9

  1. I realised that people I knew in real life were reading my blog, ie. family members and colleagues, and it didn’t just exist in a magical private world where only other sewing people would read it.
  2. I became very disenchanted with the idea of taking photos of myself and putting them online. This was intensified 100% when I started finding pictures of myself in google image searches for patterns and stuff. Urgh.
  3. I spend all day managing ‘content’ for work, including a WordPress blog, which makes me disinclined to come home and create more ‘content’ in my spare time (apologies for using the word ‘content’)
  4. Taking photos of finished projects started to became a massive pain and there never seemed to be enough time in the day to do it.
  5. I stopped sewing for about 8 months after making several failed projects and thought I had lost the desire and the skills to make clothes forever. Thankfully it seems to be returning a bit.
  6. Instagram is so much easier and low-effort and feels kind of less public (although obviously this is an illusion)
  7. Related to no. 1 – people I knew in real life would spot me wearing something I had blogged and be like ‘oh yeah, I saw that on your blog!’ and I’d be paranoid that it looked better online than in real life, and it also meant the loss of that amazing ‘I love your dress, where did you buy it? OMG, you actually made it?!’ moment which is what life is really all about when you get down to it.
  8. I became fairly certain that blogs were a dying format and I just seemed to be posting the same old boring posts all the time and I just got bored with it, you know.
  9. I became very uncertain that I had any interesting thoughts or unique sewing skills to offer, which made this blog seem self-indulgent, and I didn’t want to just clog up the internet with more of the same old stuff.


I am now thinking that I might like to blog again so I wanted to know – do people still read sewing blogs? What do you like about them? Have they been killed off by Instagram and Snapchat and whatever else the kids are using nowadays?


I made this dress from a Burda pattern, 08/2015, number 123:

floral dress

It is made from a spongey stretch crepe I got in Mermaid Fabrics, and I left out the zipper and the back seam and just put clear elastic on the waistband, so it was pretty quick to sew.

Me-Made-May: final round-up

I’m very behind with this Me-Made-May roundup. You’re probably sick of seeing these blog posts by now, so I’ll just cram everything into one giant update.

I was doing well with the daily photo, but the end of the month slipped into chaos. I got tired of seeing my ugly mug on Flickr every morning, plus I went on holiday to Norway which knocked out my normal routine.

I did well with my pledge though, honest! I didn’t wear a shop-bought pair of jeans the entire month, and generally my outfits were 80% handmade.

Here’s the photos I did manage to get:

All-blue extravaganza (Days 20, 22 and 23)



L-R: Blue chambray shirt and knit pencil skirt, blue Burda jeans and striped Hemlock, Maudella denim skirt and sweatshirt

The week of bad photos (think this was days 24, 25 and 26?)


L-R: Burda jeans and a Robin jumper (Yes, I finally finished this jumper! Blog post to come) McCalls knit dress, polka dot trousers and Hemlock tee plus hungover face.

Norwegian adventure (no idea which days these were)


L-R: Knit pencil skirt and chambray shirt (super-classy airport toilet selfie), unblogged denim trousers and stripey top, chambray shirt again and some (gasp) trousers from Dorothy Perkins. I did get them in a swap though. They were brilliant for climbing up a big Norwegian hill.

And here’s the traditional Me-Made-May giant photo collage:


Drumroll please! The Me-Made-May 2014 Yes I Like That awards go to…

Most worn item:

Definitely my chambray shirt. I’m glad I spent all that time doing French seams and sewing buttonholes – I love wearing this and it feels quite smart.

Most complimented item (online):

This has to be my Simplicity geometric shirt dress. But I think it must photograph better than it looks. I didn’t get any offline love for this dress, and someone even asked me if I made it myself, WITHOUT following up with a compliment. Dissed.


Most complimented item (in real-life):

It was the Flora shirtdress, although it might have something to do with the fact that I wore it to the big sewing meetup. Those seamstresses are pretty free and easy with their dress compliments.

Most earth-shattering realisation:

I don’t really like wearing dresses! I only put on three all month, and I felt pretty uncomfortable in all of them. Knit dresses are an exception though, so I need to make more of those. Other than that, SEPARATES 4 LIFE.

Most versatile item:

A tie between my Hemlock tee and my Built by Wendy grey sweatshirt. They go with everything.

Favourite new Me-Made-May blogger:

A difficult one to choose, but I think it has to be Marilla, who I chatted to at the big meetup, and who has a wardrobe of beautiful stripes.

Worst photo location:

A tough category, but I think I’ll have to go with the disgusting toilets at London Fields Brewery, 10 hours into an all-day music festival (you can see the evidence in day 25 above). Nobody can say I don’t suffer for my art.

Me Made May 2014 week three: the sun comes out!

I’ve really enjoyed this week’s round of MMM, probably because the sun came out.

I also went to the big London sewing meetup which was completely epic. Never have I seen so many handmade dresses together in one place! It almost caused a rip in the space-time-clothing continuum.

Anyway, here’s what I wore this week.

MMM Day 12 and 13

Day 12, off to work. I am wearing my vintage Maudella skirt and my stripey Burda kimono sleeve top. My cardigan is from H&M, my brooch is from Tatty Devine, and my shoes are from Clarks (of course).

Day 13, workday. Wearing my polka-dot Moss mini (it’s on wonkily, the seam does really sit at the front). Also my Built by Wendy sweatshirt.

MMM 14 and 15Day 14, at work on a sunny day. I had a haircut! I’ve been growing my hair for ages, so I could have an up-do at my wedding, and also just for the novelty value. But I’m so happy to have a bob again. Oh, I’m wearing some unblogged denim trousers, my McCalls white broderie top, and a cardigan from Dorothy Perkins.

Day 15, at work, still sunny I’m wearing my yellow skirt from a vintage pattern, and my Hemlock top. Must make more of these.

MMM 16 and 17

Day 16, at work. The first time this year my legs have seen the sunlight without a protective layer of tights. It was a tough day for them but I think they coped well. Not sure about all the passersby who were blinded by my milkbottle white pins. I am wearing a Simplicity 2258 skirt, a McCalls white shirt, a cardigan from Cos, and some yellow Vans (actually a wedding present from my husband!).

Day 17, off to the big sewing meetup Wearing my Flora dress for the first time in public. The cross-over top gapes a bit and I was in danger of flashing everyone on the tube and at the meetup, so I’ll probably stitch it down.  My cardigan is from Uniqlo and my shoes are from, yes, Clarks. This was the perfect outfit for a day of chatting, shopping and drinking with 70 other sewing ladies.

Day 18

Day 18, Sunday brunch and outdoors drinking Check out the different backdrop! And the yellow light coming from a strange orb in the sky! It was so hot today. I wore my Simplicity Lisette traveller shirtdress. I’m still not 100% sure about this dress so I’m glad that Me-Made-May gave me the push to wear it.

Triple sewing news excitement

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?

Minerva Blogging Network: Burda polka-dot trousers

This month’s Minerva project sprang from my wish to make a pair of trousers that involved no topstitching whatsoever. It was also inspired by the totally awesome pairs that Rosie from DIY Couture makes, and these overpriced Moschino polka dot trews.

Here’s the result:

polkadot trousers 1

You can see more about the project and the fit changes I made on the Minerva Blogging Network here.

These trousers have caused no small amount of controversy within my household. My husband thinks they look like pyjamas. I do own a pair of pyjamas made from extremely similar fabric, so I can see where he’s coming from, but hopefully the fabric is sturdy enough not to look like I’ve just woken up and strolled to the corner shop in my loungewear.

spottytrousers 3

The pattern is from Burda magazine 11/2013, available on the Burda site here, and it’s pretty good, with a shaped waistband and well-drafted pockets. I didn’t bother making a muslin, just compared them to my existing jeans pattern, and the fit isn’t bad, if a little bit tight.

If I’m totally honest, the main reason I chose this pattern is because there are four pieces to trace, and no welt pockets. Although this doesn’t help to support my ‘not pyjamas’ case.

They also have a turn-up cuff thing going on which I like although it’s not that noticeable in this fabric.

polkadot trousers 2

I’m not sure if I’ll be wearing these much, but I’m glad I made them. They might be more use in the spring.  I’m not convinced this is the most flattering style for the pear-shaped of us. Also, I think this pattern might work better in a slightly heavier wool fabric, as the knees tend to bag out a bit.

Still, I’m counting these as my first win for 2014. I made a wearable pair of non-jeans trousers! Hooray!

polkadot trousers 4

Read my Minerva post about these trousers here.

You can buy the polka dot stretch fabric here – I think it would make an amazing fitted dress.

Or buy the full kit with zip and fastening is available here.

Download the Burd pattern (11/2013 #110A) from the Burdastyle website here.

(sorry for the terrible photos. This is about as light as it gets in Britain at the moment.)

2013 Sewing resolutions – how did I do?

This recent post at Did You Make That reminded me that I made some sewing resolutions of my own in Jan (although I left it too late to actually get them into Karen’s infamous jar).

With Christmas approaching like a tinsel-covered express train, it’s a good time to see how I’ve measured up over the last 12 months. Here goes:

Resolution 1: Take part in Me-Made-May and actually make it to the end this time.


With the help of a new iPhone this was a doddle. My selfie taking improved immeasurably, and I loved checking the Flickr group every day to see what everyone was wearing. It was  the coldest May for 50 years so the challenge was a good distraction from sitting at home shivering.

You can see my final Me-Made-May post with here, and this is my favourite photo from the month, for obvious reasons.


Resolution 2: Scale the trouser-making mountain and sew some stretch skinny jeans.

I have now been up and down that particular mountain four times, which counts as a success in my book. Here’s all the pairs I made this year.


You can see that my facial expressions and posing skills have not evolved much in 12 months – maybe that’s a challenge for 2014.

Here’s a round-up of how these jeans are getting on now:

Pair 1, stretch denim from Tissu Fabrics, Jan 13: The fit isn’t great, but they’re so comfortable that I pull them out of the drawer fairly often. They are EXTREMELY high-waisted so keep you very warm, although not good for eating large dinners in.

Pair 2, Extremely stretchy Barbour twill from Mandors in Glasgow, March 13 : I hardly ever wear these. Probably because they are very brown, and I don’t get on well with that colour.

Pair 3, bright blue stretch twill from Mandors in Glasgow, June 13:I wore these constantly this summer. The fabric has gone quite saggy now but a hot wash pulls them back into shape. They’re ankle length so a bit too chilly now it’s cold.

Pair 4, stretch glitter denim from Minerva Fabrics, Oct 13:  This is embarrassing, but I’m going to be honest with you guys. I wore these a lot – until the bloody zip slider came off. AGAIN. I spent 2 hours trying to prise it back on and had to admit defeat. I will get round to putting in a new zip at some point. Probably.

I learnt a whole lot from making these jeans. The fly front no longer holds any fear for me, I can sew pockets in my sleep, and my topstitching skillz are second to none. I am high-fiving myself right now.

Resolution 3: Work on my personal style so I only make what I’ll actually wear.

I think I have slightly improved my dress sense this year. Pinterest has been my friend. I have one big board where I pin everything I like the look of, and I’ve found out that I like simple shapes and bright colours (I realise that makes me sound like a children’s TV presenter).

I can never wear frills, ditsy prints, or outfits with no waist definition, and I need to make more shirts and plain skirts.

My favourite Pinterest inspired projects this year were these two skirts:

doubled zipped skirt.jpg greenskirt

So that’s 3 out of 3! I think I now deserve a celebratory glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. And some spare time to think up next year’s resolutions…

Sew Over It Giveaway! Ultimate Shift Dress, Ultimate Wrap Dress, 1940s Tea Dress

STOP PRESS – I’ve just added the 1940’s Tea Dress pattern to the giveaway too! So all three dresses from the new Sew Over It line of patterns are now on offer. Hooray!

New pattern company alert! Sew Over It (a sewing cafe in Clapham) have just released the first three dresses in their new line of patterns.

They’re all drafted by Lisa Comfort, who runs the cafe, and they’re all BEAUTIFUL. Previously they’ve only been available to people taking classes at the cafe, but now you can buy them here!

I have long coveted the 1940s tea dress, ever since I saw Zoe’s amazing version, so I ordered one within seconds of seeing it released. Ah, I love it.

photo (18)

The wonderful Lisa saw me gloating over my new purchase on Instagram, and kindly offered to send me the other patterns in the range.

And because it’s nearly my birthday and I’m feeling generous, I’m going to give them both away!

I’ve only just started fitting the tea dress pattern, but here’s what I love about this range so far:

  • Beautiful packaging, with a little booklet telling you how to make each dress, and an envelope style that means you can tuck the pattern pieces right back inside.
  • Comprehensive instructions with clear illustrations, AND the reminder to finish your seams at each step. It took me so long to get used to the fact that commercial sewing patterns don’t include this, which I think is very unhelpful for beginners. So hooray for Sew Over It for putting this step in.
  • These patterns couldn’t be any more reliable! They’ve already been tested and tested again on people taking the classes at the sewing cafe.

Here’s the two patterns I’m giving away:

Ultimate Shift Dress

photoGridImage (1)

This would be the perfect dress for a beginner – it doesn’t even need a zip. It’s a versatile one to have in your stash, as it includes long sleeves, cute cap sleeves and a deliciously 60s neck ruffle. I would make it in this bonkers Multicoloured Hippie Floral Print cotton from Minerva Crafts.

Ultimate Wrap Dress

photoGridImageI have to say, it really hurts me to give away this pattern, I am greedy and want to keep it, but I’m going to do it anyway just because I love you all. This is the perfect, simple wrap dress pattern for jersey fabric. I would sew it in this galaxy print jersey from Stone Fabrics that I have been coveting for ages.

NEW – 1940’s Tea Dress

Because I am the owner of the smallest letterbox ever (only bills fit through), I didn’t realise Lisa had also sent me another copy of the 1940s tea dress which was languishing in the post office. So I’ve now added that to the giveaway too!

Here’s the back of the tea dress pattern, which I think is my favourite of the three:

Sew Over It Tea DRess

How to enter the giveaway

I’m going to give away each of the three patterns to a different person, chosen at random.

To enter, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what your dream sewing pattern would be. A pattern you’ve been coveting for ever but just can’t find anywhere – it could be something you’ve thought up yourself, or an item you’ve seen in RTW and really want to copy. Or if you’ve already found your dream pattern, tell us what it is!

Leave a comment by Monday 18th November, midnight GMT, to enter. Open worldwide.

(You can buy all the patterns on the Sew Over It Shop here. You can also visit their sewing cafe in Clapham, which I fully intend on doing the next time I venture down to the wilds of South London. Huge thank you to Lisa Comfort for this giveaway!)

Handmade baby shower gift set

A couple of weeks ago, I put out a cry for help on Twitter. I needed ideas for a non-gender-specific baby shower present, and it had to be handmade. Obviously I couldn’t show up with a shop bought gift – my reputation would be in tatters.

I got tons of useful advice, and ended up putting together a blanket, burp cloth, and bib. It took me less than a couple of hours, and I thought you guys might be interested in what I came up with. I think they make a nice set together.

(Whether these things are actually useful for babies, I have only the vaguest idea. Opinions welcome!)

baby set


I wanted to buy everything in one place, and I had a gift voucher for The Village Haberdashery, so that’s where I started. Plus, they have an amazing selection of prints, and I didn’t want to choose  boring neutrals or pastel shades just because my present had to be unisex. Babies deserve colour!

I bought:

Baby Blanket

Lots of people recommended Handmade Jane’s baby blanket tutorial, which you can find here. It’s beautifully simple and quick, and seems to have the seal of approval from people who know about baby stuff.

baby blanket

I used cotton flannel instead of fleece, so my blanket is pretty thin. The flannel is super-soft and cushy though, and doesn’t shed bits of lint everywhere like some fabrics I could mention.

Also, can I just say that I LOVE this leaf fabric. I wasn’t expecting a quilting cotton to be so soft and beautiful. I would definitely use a fabric like this from Cloud9 to sew a shirt. The colours are super vibrant.

Burp cloth

Most babies seem pretty watery (and worse) so something to catch leakage was essential. I’m not sure though if a ‘burp cloth’ is an American concept? None of my friends with kids had heard of them by that name.

Anyway, I used this free downloadable pattern from Cloud9, which has a nice rounded area so it fits over your shoulder better.

burp cloth

The back is plain white flannel, and I used an extra layer of cheap flannelette in the middle to make it extra padded. I also sewed two lines down the middle to stop the layers shifting.

The bib

I had enough fabric to make this out entirely out of my yellow fat quarter, but I loved the leaves so much I had to include them. Once again the back is plain white organic flannel, with another layer of cheap flannel in the middle to make it more absorbent.


The pattern is this one from The Purl Bee. It seems very small to me – next time I would use a template with more baby coverage, and possibly a wider neck opening. I used a jersey hammer-on snap as a fastening. These ones from Prym are pretty great and very easy to put in.

Note to self – use woodland animals next time

So there you go, a matching baby set. This cost me about £28 for fabric and just over a hour cutting and sewing time. It went down pretty well at the baby shower, although it didn’t elicit as much coo-ing as a tiny bandana bib made with owl fabric, curses.

You could definitely make it cheaper, although I think it’s worth using a really nice fabric for the blanket top at least. The bib could be made from any old scraps, and so could the burp cloth if you didn’t mind piecing it. I look forward to making many more of these whenever another one of my friends pops out a sprog…

Epic wedding post – we’re married!

Full warning – this is massively long and crammed with about a million pictures. I’ve put it all in one post so it’s easy to skip if weddings bore you senseless.

We did it! We got married! After 9 years together we finally took the plunge. And it was the best party ever.

wedding 1

The Dress

Okay, so your marriage is the most important thing about your wedding, but the dress comes pretty close, don’t you think? I really didn’t want your typical white strapless number and initially thought I’d buy vintage or make one myself. But, as you can see, that didn’t exactly happen.

I ended up with this:

flowers wedding

Although part of me is sad I didn’t make my own dress, as soon as I put this one on I felt like Ginger Rogers or Carole Lombard. It’s so glamorous, in an old-school Hollywood way. It was perfect.

So how did it happen?

During the planning process, I tried on this fabulous Alice Temperley gold lace dress. It was love at first sight except for one thing – the price. I started feverishly researching ways to recreate it, even buying a hideous 80s fishtail prom dress pattern on Etsy.

Then one happy day I was browsing the Issa website, and saw this very similar dress, reduced from over a grand to just £500. After dithering for weeks until there was only one size 12 left, I bit the bullet and ordered it, sight unseen. I figured I could always return it.

But as soon as I tried it on, the decision was made. Surprisingly fast for me. It’s the most expensive dress I’ve ever owned, but at least I can wear it again. Not sure where – possibly just to Tescos?

wedding 4

It’s a very simple shape. There are two bust darts, two hip darts, a midriff band, and a skirt in two pieces. The armholes and neckline are finished with a flesh coloured silk binding, and there are tiny buttons on the sleeves so you can get your hands through.

The top layer is gold lace, and it’s lined with two layers of silk – a beige chiffon and a buttercup yellow charmeuse. The lining forms a strapless bodice, which is tacked to the overlayer of gold lace. It’s very well made. The only damage after three hours of strenuous ceilidh dancing was the tacking which came away slightly on one side.

The front may be demure and long sleeved, but the back has a surprise:

wedding 5

It fit nearly perfectly, but I took it to a London tailors to have about 2 cm taken out of the waistline, and the bust darts curved in.  I could have done it myself, but I was nervous about all that lace unravelling, so for £50 I thought it was worth the peace of mind.

It was ridiculously comfortable to wear and took me about 10 seconds to get into. I just needed some help with the hook and eye at the back.

wedding 6

Hair, shoes, etc

One of the best decisions I made was getting the lovely Alexis Miller to come and do my hair and make-up, as well as make-up for my bridesmaids, sisters, and mum. I really don’t have that much hair, but somehow she magically coaxed it into a Swedish style plait with a side bun, and gave me beautiful smokey eyes.

wedding makeup

A few people advised me not to hire a make-up artist as I wouldn’t end up looking like myself, but I think that really depends on whether you usually wear make-up, and also who you get. I was worried about hiring someone who would slap on a trowelful of foundation and give me 80s bridal ringlets, but Alexis was the total opposite of that.

I wish I could get her to do my hair and face for every special occasion. If I was rich I would definitely have her on retainer.

Shoes-wise, at the last minute I bought these gold leather numbers by Rachel Simpson after eyeing them up for months. They only arrived two days before the wedding. Again, they are more expensive than any shoes I have ever bought, so I plan on wearing them for housework, food shopping, yoga classes, etc etc.

wedding 7

shoes times two

I do love this picture of me showing them off to Alex though.


The Flowers and Decoration

Another amazing decision I made (so modest) was hiring Pyrus as our florists. I love flowers but I’m not that keen on typical wedding arrangements. But Pyrus are local, seasonal florists who grow all their own flowers and plants.

They created the most colourful, stunning bouquet I have ever seen. You may notice I am clutching it in every photo – I really didn’t want to let go. It smelt INCREDIBLE. I got yellow pollen all over my nose because I kept sticking it in there.

wedding flowers

They also did gorgeous, wild table arrangements in recycled glass bottles. We had a branch from a fig tree on our table which smelt like heaven.

flowers 1

Alex designed all the table plans, which were named after our favourite places in Edinburgh and London, with corresponding photos.

the river


I generally think favours are a waste of time at weddings. The only good ones are edible, and who really wants more to eat after a three-course dinner? Having said that, we did them anyway. Weddings make you crazy like that.

They were sweetie bags filled with sherbert dib dabs, love hearts, trivia cards, and party poppers. We designed stickers with our faces on to close them, as a joke, rather than because of our massive narcissism (I hope). There were only a few Dib Dabs left at the end of the night so hopefully people enjoyed them.


The Venue

Teviot Row House, where we got married, is actually part of Edinburgh Student Union. It was built in 1899 and is about a million times nicer than any other student union I have ever been to, and the main hall is beautiful, with wooden panelling and balconies. It was also ridiculously cheap compared to most other venues we looked at – they only charged us for catering.

Even so, the terrace bar still has a slight student-y ambience, so we covered it with streamers and paper pompoms. Cheap, cheerful and colourful. Our friends Solii, Bob and Tom helped us out massively, spending hours up ladders the day before the wedding putting them all up.


pom poms

I know you can make these paper pompoms yourself, but again I took the lazy option and ordered them from here. One tip though – fluff them up before the wedding day. It takes bloody ages.

The Day

We wanted it to be a big, fun, happy family party, and it was really was. I have never smiled so much.

laughing 2

I found planning was easy until about a month before, when the logistics start to get pressing and I started to get stressed (who’s going to drop off the wine? Where do people sit? How will they get from church to venue? etc etc).

As I’ve already confessed, I did no DIY at all for our wedding, but we were incredibly lucky to have a huge amount of help from friends and family. The social committee at the church made and served ALL the canapes in the garden after the service – more than 1000 (!).


The Christ Church flower ladies did some beautiful arrangements in church.

church flowers

Alex’s mum Jean made the delicious wedding cake, which was soaked in brandy, and decorated with shimmering white icing feathers.


My beautiful friends (including the lovely Lizzy) acted as bridesmaids and helped me get ready in the morning, bringing champagne and nibbles. Alex, on the other hand, had to go to Greggs for his nuptial breakfast. I think I win.

These ladies are the best, I really can’t thank them enough for being awesome.


My favourite parts

We walked down the aisle together, alone. We wanted to enter married life as a couple, and I’m really glad we did it like this.

I met Alex outside the church in the garden and then we headed in together. I was a bit nervous, and it was lovely to have a quiet moment together before we saw everyone else.



Walking down the aisle is a blur. I was so jumpy I couldn’t smile properly without my mouth starting to shake.

wedding 8

But walking back down the aisle, and out into the church garden with my husband (still keep forgetting to call him that), was brilliant.

Coming out of church

The whole morning I was convinced I was going to catch my dress in my heels and fall over and break my ankle in the middle of the church, but luckily this didn’t happen. I even managed walking up and down steps with no problems. What a pro.

out of church

Another great part was making a speech at the reception. I woke up at 4am worrying about it, but it turned out to be one of my highlights of the day. Why should the men have all the fun?

wedding speech

After that, my friend Bea read out a poem she’d written especially for us, which made me totally lose it and start crying (happy tears).

Another highlight was the ceilidh. The band were called Carrie On Dancing and they were really, really good. I switched to flat shoes for this part of the evening. Ceilidh-dancing in thin heels is a recipe for a broken ankle.


For our first dance we decided to do the Gay Gordons, which is the traditional start to a ceilidh. We began it on our own, then people joined in as the music went on. I just couldn’t see us swaying around the floor for 5 minutes on our own to some cheesy love song, so this was a good compromise, although we did have fun suggesting more and more ridiculous first dance ideas to each other (The Final Countdown! Respectable by Mel and Kim! Vibe by R Kelly!)

ceilidh dancing

Actually, I think my favourite thing about our wedding was looking around and seeing so many of our friends and family together in one room. I have never hugged so many people in one day. It was the best.

ceilidh 3

ceilidh 2

ceilidh 1

Our photos

The absolutely definite BEST decision we made was having Caro Weiss as our photographer.

I was a bit daunted by finding a photographer. There are so many out there. Plus, we got married in Edinburgh but organised everything from London, so we didn’t get a chance to meet with most of the suppliers before the day. But we completely lucked out with Caroline.

I’ve been to a lot of weddings where the bride and groom disappear for 3 hours for a mammoth photo sesssion, while you stand around aimlessly, waiting for them to reappear so you can get your dinner. That was something we definitely wanted to avoid.

Caroline only took us away for 20 minutes, so guests got to stand around aimlessly with us instead. And she still got pictures like these:


caro 1

To be honest, I hardly noticed her on the day. She’s like a photography ninja. She captured so many lovely moments, and got the nicest pictures of us and our friends and family that I’ve ever seen.


The photos in this post are all from her. If you’re a glutton for punishment, you can see even more pictures of our wedding on her blog here.

If you’re getting married in Scotland, hire this woman! She’s a genius.

The end

Did you make it this far? I hope it wasn’t too boring. As a bonus, here’s my one piece of wedding advice:

It will be over in a FLASH, so don’t stress about it too much. It’s just one day of your life. As long as you end up married, it’s all good.

(Just try not to set the legal paperwork on fire, as we nearly did while signing it next to a lit candle. That could really have put a dampener on the day).

caro 4

Thanks for reading!