Red crepe Annalotte dress from By Hand London

I made a new dress – an Annalotte.

Red BHL dress

I think this is the first red dress I’ve ever owned!

Ironically, at the wedding I wore it to, there were at least 6 other women wearing bright red. Obviously it’s a thing.

Although the nice thing about making your own dress is that you know nobody else will be wearing the exact same outfit.

So this is a cross between a By Hand London Anna bodice and a Charlotte skirt, and it was heavily inspired by Fiona’s mash-up of the same two patterns.

You have to do some shoogling of darts to get them to match up on the front and back. I kept the double darts on the back skirt and just matched up one set with the back bodice darts.

BHL Anna dress 4

You can see I also changed the sleeves and the neckline. The Anna neckline was a bit too wide for me on the last version I made, so I brought it in at the sides and scooped it out at the front.

Plus, I added a V at the back.

BHL red dress back

You can tell from that back view that this dress is basically too tight. It’s comfortable and wearable because the fabric has stretch to it, but really I could have done with a couple of centimetres more ease the whole way round.

Still I’ve worn it to two events that involved lots of sitting down, dancing and eating and it held out both times. SUCCESS.

It’s made from this amazing Prada self-lined crepe from Minerva Fabrics. Blimey this is gorgeous fabric. It’s really easy to sew, has just enough stretch, and you don’t need to line it! What more could you want?

This only took two metres, so it cost about £24, which I think is pretty good.

I hand-sewed the hem and added a really deep facing for the neckline so it didn’t flip out too much.

BHL red dress 2

Yeah, I haven’t got any better at posing during my lengthy break from blogging. But at least this time you get a lovely picturesque French backdrop.

Possibly the best thing about this dress is that it matches Alex’s kilt perfectly. Top tip – if you wear a kilt to a French wedding you get a LOT of attention.

BHL red Anna dress and kilt

And that’s it! Anyone else made an Annalotte?


Minerva Project April: Green ponte Anna from By Hand London

I made a new dress!

It’s my latest Minerva project and you can see the write-up on their (new and improved!) blog here.

Green dress 3
Here’s the details:

Pattern: The Anna from By Hand London

Fabric: Ponte in ‘Forest’ from Minerva Crafts (this stuff is the best ponte ever. Highly recommended).

Bookshelves: IKEA Billy

Green dress 1

Verdict: I like this dress but have only worn it once – the boatneck feels oddly formal for everyday wear. Also, I am waiting for bare legs (or at least nude tights) weather to return.

green dress back

green dress 2

Buy the kit here, or visit the Minerva blog for more details.

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?

Tiny Dancer Flora Dress from By Hand London

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.

Giveaway winner – Victoria Blazer

Hello! Just popping in to say thanks to everyone who entered the Victoria Blazer giveaway.

I counted 52 comments who wanted to win the pattern. I put that number in the handy Random Number Generator, and here’s what I came up with:

random number

The third comment was from Giddy Aunt Lola of A Saucy Stitch – congrats! I couldn’t find your email address on your blog, if you drop me a line with your address I will post the pattern to you.

If you haven’t read the comments, have a squiz – there are some great tales of fabric/pattern mismatching which certainly made me feel better about all my failures.

In other news – I am married!!!!! It feels quite surreal.

The wedding was completely amazing, we had such a fun day. We won’t get the official photos back for a few weeks, but the lovely photographer has sent me a sneak peek, look:


I can’t wait to get the rest of the pictures! Warning – I will bore you all to tears with them when we get back from honeymoon. Thanks so much for all your congratulations and kind messages, I’ll see you in a week or so.

By Hand London Victoria blazer review and giveaway

Firstly – this is a great pattern.

Secondly – I haven’t totally done it justice here.

victoria blazer 7

I was one of the original pattern testers, but I’ve held off from posting my version for a few reasons. I’ll share them with you now so you can learn from my mistakes.

– Don’t use a thick denim-weight fabric for this pattern. It’s a casual blazer, it needs drape, and those sleeves will be impossible to ease in if your fabric is too heavy.

– Don’t pre-wash your fabric and lining together if one is pale blue and the other is burnt orange (you probably already know this).

– Don’t buy fabric from Ultimate Craft in Stoke Newington. It always ends in tears.

victoria blazer 5

I’m happy with the finished result even though the fabric is a bit heavy. The strange mottling that occurred in the first run through the washing machine has almost gone, so it has more of a pleasing faded look.

jacket back

The pattern itself is brilliant. It’s very quick to sew, and the By Hand London girls have put together really comprehensive instructions. I’ve never made a jacket before so I was a bit intimidated, but it’s easy-peasy. I finished it in two evenings!

The way the neck dart turns into the collar is particularly fun to put together, and the lining neatly finishes all your seams. The side seam pockets come together beautifully, but next time I want to add patch pockets to the front, which would make it even quicker.

blazer close up

I know a few people wanted to see a line drawing of this pattern, so here’s the back of the (beautifully packaged) envelope. You can see they recommend ‘light to medium weight’ fabrics, so don’t be like me, do what they tell you. I am dying to see a version of this in a chambray.

victoria blazer line drawing

I’m actually planning another Victoria in my Tesco-duvet-space-galaxy fabric but I think it’ll have to wait until after marriage/honeymoon/wedded bliss etc etc.

But you should check out Marie’s beautiful pastel cropped version here, and Clare’s gorgeous neon palm-tree version here. I saw the latter in person at the By Hand London first birthday celebrations last weekend, and it’s a beaut.

You can buy the pattern from the By Hand London website and it’s perfect timing, as they’re about to start a sew-along.

I’m very proud to support these ladies! Their patterns are ace, they are lovely people, and they know how to throw an EPIC party (they also mix some extremely strong punch).

sidevictoria blazer 4

Giveaway – own your own Victoria blazer!

I have a copy of this pattern to give away to one lucky person! I worked out that I’ve been blogging for exactly two years now, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

victoria blazer pattern front

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below.

To make it interesting, will you tell me about your best or worst matches of fabric and pattern? I’m fascinated by how some fabrics suit a pattern perfectly, and some are an instant failure. If I had this mastered I reckon I’d be a sewing wizard, so I’d love to hear about your successes and disasters!

You can enter the giveaway from anywhere in the world, and you have until 12 noon (UK time) on Tuesday 16th July.

If you want to comment but not enter the giveaway, (perhaps to tell me that I look like Phil Collins in this jacket, or that I should have ironed my skirt before taking these photos), that’s cool too, just mention it in your comment.

p.s. check me out being interviewed in the Guardian today about making my own jeans! Fame at last, courtesy of the lovely Karen.