Sunday, 4 December 2016

Oh for the wings of a Dove

There have been a couple of new additions to the wardrobe recently.  The first is a winter version of the Emerson crop pants, winter in that they are navy and in a fabric with wool in it for a little bit of warmth.  I got the fabric in Clothspot, it's this midnight blue worsted wool fabric   and it is 100% wool, but enough drape for these trousers.  They are proving to be a great winter staple. I made these first in the summer, here and loved the shape and design of them with the front pleat detail and pockets and an ever-so-comfy half elasticated waistband (that isn't too obvious), so an all round success.  I've been wearing them with a pair of heeled ankle boots, the ankle of the boot just comes roughly to the hem of the trousers.

The other item is the Megannielsen dove blouse.  I loved the pattern as soon as I saw it with it's three sleeve options.  Version 1 has a normal straight elbow length sleeve, version 2 has flared sleeves and version 3 has crazy bell sleeves, very Abba'esque!!

I went for version 2 with the flared sleeve, just enough flare for my liking.  I would say the sleeves are ever so slightly long on me so I would shorten them about an inch if I were to make it again.

In fact, overall I feel the style is quite lengthy, so I would reduce the length of the front and back by about 1-2 inches .  (I am 5'5")  It does have a lovely curved hem front and back with facing pieces, but as my fabric is quite a silky fabric, I chose to do a rolled hem.  It was the first time I'd done rolled hems, so there was lots of practising beforehand, but once I got going it worked out well.

The neckline is a 'V' neck with a lovely neat understitched facing, which finishes it off nicely.  My fabric was a bit 'mad' in that the pattern was all over the place.  There was no way it was ever going to be pattern matched, so I went for the alternating pattern with the white background on one side and the navy background on the other.  Turned out a bit crazy, but I think it suits the design of the blouse. Definitely more of a 'going out' blouse as opposed to an everyday blouse (fabric wise)

I then went on to make a Liberty version which will be a Christmas present for someone.  It sewed up beautifully in the tana lawn fabric.  I went for the elbow length, straight sleeve this time and used the hem interfacing pieces which really does finish it nicely.  It looks really different from the other more silky one, but I still think it looks good too.

The fabric is a geometric circular design with taupe, white, grey and turquoise.

Liberty Tana Lawn Maddock from the Alice in Wonderland Collection (Spring 2015)
 So even thought the sleeves can be quite fancy, this pattern is still quite a good basic, the one with the straight sleeves would be ideal as a work blouse.  It will look very different depending on your fabric I guess, but I recommend it.

A more everyday photo of the Emerson pants with one of my many Liesl & Co maritime tees.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Bodacious Rosa

So, I made Rosa a few weeks ago, but life has been pretty busy, so thought it was high time to share with you.  It's a shirt/shirt dress pattern from Tilly and the Buttons and has curved princess seams, a front yoke and a shaped back yoke and a two-piece collar and stand.  I made mine from a mauve/lilac corduroy from which is quite lightweight, but I do like the colour.  I'm glad I didn't go for the dress as I'd have been freezing in it.

As with all the 'Tilly' patterns, you are taken by the hand in every step and he photographs are a great help too.  The seams are done in a mock felled way and if you are new to this method the instructions will take you through it easily.  The princess seams also lend themselves to a nice bit of top-stitching.  It hasn't come up too well on the photos but my thread was a multi-shade luminescent type thread, a bit different.

There are pockets, but I decided to leave them off this shirt, thought there was enough going on.

Even though I've been sewing a while now, I always find the buttonholes a bit stressful.  The only way is to practice a few times first on the fabric and then hope for the best!  Thankfully, no catastrophes this time.

I suppose one possible tricky bit might be the pointed back yoke, but again it's explained really well in the instructions.  I would use a fine marker to get to mark the pivot point so that it can be stitched exactly where it's meant to be.

I used some Liberty fabric for the under collar and the button stand facing.  The colours in it are amazing lots of blues, greens and, of course, purples.

The sleeve is finished with a cute button tab, which is definitely quicker than a full cuff, although I think there is a post on how to do a full cuff.

Anyway, it's another great pattern and I really enjoyed making it.  I think it's quite flattering because of the princess seams so I will definitely be making a dress version, but don't think I'll have time before Christmas.  Any sewing time now will be devoted to warm, cosy makes for a trip to USA over Christmas and some pressie making.  Can't believe we're nearly at that stage again, EEK!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

How the Autumn 10 x 10 Challenge went.

So, can't quite believe that 10 days have passed and I have survived with only wearing 10 items! Including shoes!! 

You can see my 10 items here.

I did no planning beforehand or any real thinking about it.  Purely based on my trip to Iceland in September when I packed just a carry on for 6 days, I picked my items fairly quickly the day before I started the challenge.  I just wanted to see if it was possible and if I would learn anything along the way.  I have been striving for a smaller wardrobe, aka 'the capsule', over the past few years and have progressively been discarding LOTS of items from my wardrobe that just weren't working for various reasons. 

So, the bottom line is.... IT IS POSSIBLE and it's not even that difficult.

I may, however, have gone off anything that happens to be blue or green for a while.

Days 1-3
 Nothing to crazy for the first three days, pretty much how I dress normally, jeans/trousers, tops and cardigan/jacket.

Days 4-6

By days 4-6, I realised I was going to have to try something different.  The first was wearing the pussybow blouse under the dress, I'd only ever worn this dress on its own, so it was good to see that it could be worn as an overdress.  The other two days were just using different accessories and different top/bottom combinations.

Days 7-9
I suppose days 7-9 were similar in that I was going for the 'what can I wear under the dress/dungarees?'  Perhaps trying to make things a little bit different with different tights, jewellery, scarfs.

Day 10
By today.... not going to lie, I had an 'at home' and really just wanted to wear trackies and a sweatshirt, but for the sake of completion I pondered and came up with the scenario of wearing a top OVER the dress.  Aha, I think it actually worked, now why didn't I think of that before!!

So, what have I learned from this challenge?


All my items were fine for the challenge because the weather isn't too cold yet.  Any colder and I'd be wanting warmer sweaters and certainly a longer coat.


As I work a lot from home, some days I was a bit overdressed for the activities I was doing, but it didn't matter too much really.


All of my items were blues or greens, both of which I love, therefore everything went together, but it was nearly all a bit too matchey.  Think if I were doing it again I would add in a completely different colour to provide variety and relieve potential boredom.


I think I was quite lucky with my rash choices.  The Bettine dress proved to be a godsend in that I could were tops under it and, as it turns out today, over it too.  This is definitely a factor to consider when choosing items for a capsule wardrobe, what shapes work well with others.  The slim jeans and tops is what I would were mostly so that was fine.  The dungarees were fairly versatile too, they are maybe not MY ideal silhouette in that they are quite oversized in style but for comfort they won hands down.


Not going to lie.  I did less washing than I normally would.  Well, we wash clothes too much anyway. The tops were each washed once and that was it, eek!

Reactions from others

Well living in a house of males.... NO REACTION, ie they never noticed.

Also I never see the same people all the time.  If I were going in to an organization and seeing the same group of people all day, every day I might feel more self-conscious, but I know I shouldn't, but honestly I'm not sure people really do notice that much.

Most worn item

Definitely the dress.  I will be aiming to sew dresses similar to that for day-to day wear from now on, either in a woven or a knit fabric, that can be layered in different ways.


Two pair of shoes.  Who thought that would be possible, but I managed no problem at all.  I'm glad I chose the Russell and Bromley ankle boots.  They were a special purchase and expensive and I have been keeping them for 'good' but it was lovely to just wear them, they're not doing much good in a shoe box in the bottom of my wardrobe.


This is very important to me anyway as I have mentioned a lot on the blog.  If you have less items in your wardrobe, you want them to be comfortable and suitable for the weather.  Those are a given, but for me I ideally want them to be as natural and breathable as possible.  I also try to use organic fabrics if I can, although honestly I've had mixed success with the more natural fabrics.  For me, my go-to fabrics are cotton, linen, double gauze, merino jersey and wool fabrics.

What next?

I really enjoyed doing this challenge.  It really does highlight what works best for your lifestyle. (And how little you really need)  It has also made me more aware when I go to buy an item or make an item, exactly how it can be worn with the rest of my wardrobe and if it can be worn in different ways then that's all the better.  Thanks also to stylebee who instigated the challenge and whose blog has been very helpful and motivating.  I'm now going to aim for the 20 x 20 challenge, haha!

Sunday, 9 October 2016

10 x 10 Challenge!

Reducing this down!

So, for Autumn, something a little bit different - some might say crazy, mad, extreme!  I have decided to embark on the 10 x 10 Challenge.  This is something I have been aware of for a while from following various blogs that focus on capsule wardrobes.  In this case it was the blog, she did her 10 x 10 in September, but now her friend is doing the challenge for 10 days starting tomorrow Monday 10/10/2016 (just realised that date is rather appropriate!)

So what is the challenge?

You pick 10 items from your wardrobe.
Style them into 10 looks.
Give yourself 10 days to it.

That's it, easy, haha!

Things I considered in selecting 10 items.

Weather:  On checking the weather high are between 12 and 14 degrees and lows between 8 and 10 degrees, if the weather forecast can be trusted! So, definitely getting cooler, but not too cool, hopefully.

Lifestyle:  Things I'll be doing over the next 10 days, working from home mostly with occasional meetings and some casual social occasions, so maybe not quite as taxing as if I were 'working out' if you know what I mean.

Colour:  Whenever I first looked into capsule wardrobes, the one thing that struck me was how a lot of them were monochrome or very similar colours.  I had enough of that when I worked in a big organization, so I love colour and definitely incorporate colour in my wardrobe.  Having said that I do get that items have to go together, especially when you have so little.  My colours for this are based around blues and greens, which I love.

Shapes: Not sure if I'm going to be that successful from this point of view.  Again, items need to be interchangeable with eachother and silhouettes need to work together also.  We shall see.  This is part of the challenge.

So here are my 10 items.

1 pair of shoes - Navy Trainers from Tedandmuffy

1 pair of ankle boots from

1 dress - Handmade, using pattern Tillyandthebuttons Bettine sewing pattern.

1 navy jeans from

1 pair of dungarees - Handmade using sewing pattern Roberts collection by Marilla Walker

3 Tops - All handmade   

1.  Navy/White striped top ( Liesl and Co Maritime Top)
2.  Floral Top (Mercury Collection by Marilla Walker)
3.  Pussybow blouse (pussy bow blouse sewing pattern by Sew Over It.)

1 cardigan (

1 Jacket (Sussex wax jacket from

So, why am I doing this challenge at all I might ask myself.

Well, partly just for the challenge.  Also, as this is mostly a sewing blog and I love sewing (but really sew too many things still) I want to try and be more mindful about exactly what I need, what really works for me on a day-to-day basis (both style-wise and practically) so that I can choose patterns more wisely.  I definitely have improved a lot over the past couple of years, but I would like to hone my style a little bit more (must be a turning 50 thing!) I would like this challenge to encourage me to get more out of my clothes and really WEAR them.

It could be really boring and repetitive (sorry in advance if that's the case) but I hope to have fun with it and maybe learn something along the way.

Wish me luck.  I'll be aiming to put a photograph on instagram every day #stylebee10x10

Not too late, anyone else up for an October challenge, you can check the details out here.

Monday, 26 September 2016

City Stroll Wrap Skirt

So, I've been meaning to make this skirt for ages, and finally did towards the end of the summer and have been getting quite a bit of wear out of it.  It is the Liesl and co City Stroll Wrap skirt which has a curved hem and pockets and a neat hem facing.

Worn with Sewaholic Oakridge blouse

I made mine in a fairly lightweight organic corduroy form in a teal colour which I bought a few years ago.  It's ok, but I think I would go for a slightly heavier fabric the next time.

Worn with Made-by-Rae Josephine blouse.

The pattern itself is very straightforward with great instructions as per all Liesl & Co patterns and the pockets give it more interest and, of course, are very practical.

The facing on the hem also gives a lovely neat finish and a little chance to use a co-ordinating fabric.  The one I used is one of the Atelier Brunette rayon's which worked very well.

I was thinking of lengthening the skirt, as I thought it might be too short, but I made no adjustments at all and I think it's fine especially now in the autumn with thicker tights.  It's been a surprisingly useful skirt (I wasn't sure to be honest, it maybe seemed a bit novelty)  and even had a trip to Reykjavik earlier in September.  So, all in all I am really pleased with it and will be aiming for a slightly heavier version for winter.

Even fine when sitting down.
Coffee stop in Reykjavik.

Friday, 19 August 2016

True Bias Emerson pants.

 I knew as soon as Emerson crop pant/shorts pattern came on my radar that I'd love it.  I've always loved the wide-leg style, like a palazzo style, but these are cropped 3/4 length, hitting about mid-calf, which is, of course, very en trend at the moment.  Well, you've got to try, haven't you?

As they have an elasticized back (so no zip insertion) but a flat front waistband which sits just below the natural waist they are both comfortable and flattering at the same time.  Also, they have nice pleat details at the front which gives a bit of shape.

 They also have in-seam pockets, well you've got to have those, don't you.  I made my Emerson's in a blue chambray lyocell fabric which is light-medium weight but with a great drape which I think works really well with this pattern.

I made a straight size 14 with no adjustments and they are spot-on, I'm really pleased with the fit, which makes me think I might try more True Bias patterns.

I love the length they fall at too.  I'm 5'5" and they fall mid-calf I would say.  I love them and have in mind a navy pair for autumn in a suiting fabric which I think will work with boots too.  I think they even work fine with flat shoes too, so overall a great all rounder.  Who knows I might even make a shorts version, but probably not this summer.  It's feeling very autumnal all of a sudden, where did that summer go to?

The Gypsy blouse by The Maker's Atelier

So, thought I'd share one of my most-worn items so far this summer.  It's the Gypsy dress and blouse sewing pattern from The Makers Atelier.  It's the second pattern I have made from their collection, the first being the holiday shirt and top which turned out rather large on me, but I have since made in a smaller size.

In general the styles are a bit over-sized as I made the Medium (12/14) in the Gypsy top and it feels slightly big, but I think it's part of the style of it. 

Seamwork Moji Trousers and Makers Atelier Gypsy Top.

I made it in the stripey Cotton and Steel double gauze which is cerise pink, mint green and taupe, I've had it a while so thought I'd better use it.  Double gauze is perfect for the summer and in this case I have tended to wear the top as a cover-up over a vest top or lightweight t-shirt, a handy top for a balmy evening!

It was a very quick straightforward make, it's a raglan style sleeve, so no set-in.  You can elasticate the sleeves and waist hem, but I did mine with a plain hem, so very fast indeed.

The drawstring is fed around the neckline through bias binding - I used a fancy one from with a lace edge which looks rather nice.

The patterns are a little bit on the expensive side at £22.50.  They come in a substantial cardboard packaging with a cord closure, the instructions are printed on a folded sheet of paper and the pattern itself is printed on a top quality weight paper.  However, there are quite a few other 'Indie' pattern companies who produce similar if not higher quality patterns for a lot less.

I think their strength may lie in the fact that they are, in general, quite simple styles and as such could be made to look quite different by using different fabrics, so you could get multiple uses from their patterns without it being blatantly obvious. So, cost per use might make it worth it, it has definitely been a go-to, so I'd say I'll probably be making it again, so possibly justified.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

A meeting of Maya and Emily

So, we have returned from our holiday and I thought it was about time that I shared some of my summer makes.  Thankfully, the weather was very kind to us this year and we very much enjoyed our tour of Cornwall, the lovely Rye and the New Forest.

As the weather was so warm and sunny, I actual got to wear light-weight summery clothes... Yeah!! 

The first item is a Liberty version of the Maya dress and top sewing-pattern by Marilla Walker.  I've been meaning to give it a go for ages, but somehow didn't get around to it.  The pattern is a kimono/cap sleeved dress or top with a fairly loose style and a patch pocket. As with all of Marilla's patterns she gives several options including cropped top, tunic and dress length, with or without a button down front.  Also options for the type of hem, ie.shaped or straight

It's a great pattern for showcasing a bold or colourful pattern and I love the colours in this Liberty cotton lawn, blues, greens, pinks, all very jewel like.

The instructions are very straightforward to follow and overall it's a fairly simple make with just two main pieces and neck facing.  The side seams are French seamed so it's nice that all raw edges are enclosed.  It's a great basic style top to have in your wardrobe, would also be nice in plain colours.  I intend to make a dress version of it too at some stage, so overall I really like the pattern.

I am wearing the top with the Itch-to-stitch Emily culottes - I really wanted to make a pair of culottes this summer and I have a few different patterns, but went for this one in the end.  It took me three goes to get the sizing right, but was worth it in the end. They kept turning out way too large, I think I ended up with a straight 12.  These are in a brown linen fabric which was lovely and cool on holidays and they got a good bit of wear.  The pattern is a pdf download and also is excellent as the instructions are incredibly detailed and with a ton of options, including a few different pockets, lined or unlined, pleated or non-pleated, a tie front, and different lengths.

I went for the non-pleated, tie front, knee-length version which is fine, but you really need to wear a tucked-in top with them, otherwise a little bump appears.  I would leave the ties off and do a pocketed version the next time and now that I've got the sizing right there will definitely be more, they're just so comfortable to wear - I highly recommend!

 One of my holiday highlights was paying a visit to Rye and in particular to Merchant and Mills and I got to touch and feel all their lovely selection of fabrics.  It was their dress shirt pattern that started me off on my sewing venture 4 years ago, never having sewn any garments before, so it was very special to go there, I loved every moment!

An added bonus was that the town of Rye is very pretty with lots of lovely shops, cafes and restaurants.  My boys enjoyed going into the tower of the church to see around.  I think they were pleasantly surprised with the town, it had a good atmosphere with plenty of people about.

My Rye lunch, coronation chicken salad, sustenance after the shopping ... and these were the purchases.  I honestly went intending to buy some Harris Tweed for a Haremere jacket, but none of the designs really were me, a bit too muted, but I will keep an eye out.

The Strand and The Rugby

Linens and stripes from Merchant and Mills
I will be back soon with some other summery makes, although I'm started to think of autumn!

Thursday, 16 June 2016

The Bennett dress.

Even though the weather has taken a turn for the worse here, I thought I would share one of my recent makes, the Bennett dress from Marilla Walker. It is classified as an Advanced Beginner level pattern which I would say is about right.  It is a shift style with princess detail in the bodice (or a front panel), waist ties (optional) and two different hem options.

I chose to make Option A which has the shaped shirt style hem, waist ties and front panel.  Having loved the double gauze that I made my dungarees in from Merchant and Mills, I thought I would try another one for the Bennett dress, but this one was all together different. It is double sided, one indigo blue and the other a small grid check which is great, but it is very fine, almost see-through, quite an open weave and frays considerably.  It is described as double gauze laundered linen, so I guess that's what it is, definitely ideal for very warm weather like we had a couple of weeks ago.

Realistically (because of the fabric) I'm not sure how much wear I'll actually get out of it.

Pattern wise, it's a great style.  The instructions are great, probably the trickiest part for me was turning the belt ties the right way round.  That was a bit of a nightmare as the fabric would have gone into a hole very easily.

There is definitely plenty of scope for fabric combinations.  With it having the front panel, it is crying out for colour blocking, you could go simple minimalistic monochrome, chambray/denim and liberty or a broderie anglaise panel would be lovely.  I think it would even be a useful dress for the winter (maybe in a fine corduroy) with a fine long sleeved top underneath.

I made a straight size 5 with no alterations and I think it's pretty close to a perfect fit for me.

So, I think I probably have enough summer dresses now, I'll have to get back to some basics like T-shirts and jersey bottoms.  Back soon to show my new culottes, which are also very lightweight, hope the good weather returns SOON!