A slightly belated 2017 review

I’ve mentioned a few times before that I’m a massive spreadsheet nerd. Well for the past couple of years I’ve maintained a sewing stats spreadsheet where I record my makes and various things about them. Like what sort of fabric I use, whether they’re printed or PDF patterns and I’ve just added a column for whether it’s a new to me pattern or one I’ve made before.

I also have a sheet for my “stash maths” where I record the fabric I buy and the fabric I use each year to see how much I reduce or increase my stash. Spoiler: it’s always increase.

Anyway, I love reading that sort of stuff on other people’s blogs so I thought I would share a nerdy, graph heavy post on last year’s sewing for anyone who is interested – and for myself obviously.

What I made

I made 34 things last year. 33 were sewn and 1 was knitted – though I also part knitted 2 other things that still need finishing. The jumper I did finish knitting could also do with me undoing the sleeve cast off and adding about another 3 inches to each of them but I can’t face it yet.

Now let’s hit the graphs. This first one is to show what garment types I made.

Tops and dresses being the most common is fairly consistent with previous years but the surge in cardigans is all thanks to the Blackwood cardigan pattern. I made 5 different versions making it my most made pattern so far. The love affair is certainly not over yet either.

Knit v Woven

It’s been a fairly even split down the middle this year. Knits were given a boost by my Blackwood cardigan obsession. I might have a little play with my spreadsheet to try to get it to show me the proportion of knit and woven for each garment type.

Printed v PDF

This is definitely the year that I realised I’m very much a PDF girl. I’m such a bodyweight yoyo that I can’t not trace patterns if I ever want to use them again in the future and I HATE tracing. I’d far rather sit on my living room floor in front of the telly or listening to the radio with my paper cutter, a Pritt stick (never generic glue sticks) and a cuppa. I can assemble patterns quite quickly now and I find it sort of soothing. I’d far rather reprint and reassemble than retrace. I’ve even almost bought a couple of patterns I already have printed versions of in PDF format just to avoid tracing them but so far I’ve resisted.

Indie v Big 4

I’ve made hardly any Big 4 patterns this year. Only two and of those two only one was even for me. It wasn’t a deliberate choice as I would like to try a few more Big 4 patterns. I think it’s a combination of exposure to more Indie patterns via Instagram and blogs and preferring PDF patterns. I bought quite a few New Look (6212, 6414 and 6507) and McCall’s (7387, 7534 and 7537) patterns when they were on sale and I hope to use some of them this year. Perhaps I should set myself a week where I trace at least one pattern every day as there’s loads of paper patterns I want to make but keep putting off.

Pattern companies

a graph showing

This one is a bit cramped sorry and some of the company names got chopped. You can clearly see which companies I’m a fan girl of though. For Helen’s Closet it was the five Blackwood cardigans and a Suki Kimono that I made my Nan for Christmas. The Sew Over It patterns were a bit more varied but there were two Penny dresses and two Alex dresses, the other two were a Nancy dress and an Ultimate shift dress.

Fabric choices

It’s no surprise to me that more than half of the things I made contained viscose in the fabric. It’s my favourite fabric to wear. I was surprised that I had used so much polyester but it was things like sweater knit, ponte and crepe so it shouldn’t have been that much of a shock. The wool was yarn not fabric, I still haven’t sewn anything with wool.


This is only my second year of tracking the stash so I don’t know for certain but I suspect it’s probably my worst so far for overbuying fabric.

I bought 56 pieces of fabric totalling 107.4 metres.

And I used/cut* 48 pieces of fabric totalling 68.95 metres.

*Not all of my cut out garments have been made yet.

So the stash increased by 38.45 metres.

This is something I really want to work on this year. I think I’m going to go for a one in, two out policy. Though I’m already losing on that as I’ve bought two bits of fabric already – some beautiful Cotton + Steel rayon for a Chalk and Notch Fringe top/dress and some flannel for a wearable toile of the Grainline Archer. I remain positive though. I’ll settle for breaking even.

So that was my year in graphs and numbers. It’ll be interesting to start doing this every year and see how things change if at all. I suspect that the main change will be fancier graphs. Does anyone else track their makes or am I just a daft nerd?

Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry Dress

My first finished make of 2018! And I’m being a good blogger, as per my goal and went out and took photos straight away. Then took more in the spare room because it was so windy outside that all my photos were rubbish. I wasn’t wasting the make-up!

This is the Mayberry dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade (previously Jennifer Lauren Vintage), which I was lucky enough to get for free in exchange for an honest review – keep an eye on Jennifer’s blog for her reviewer round-up to see lots of other versions. This is my second of her patterns and you’ll definitely be seeing a few more of them – I have four now. They’re always really different to anything else out there she puts some really interesting details in them. Like this asymmetric button band in the Mayberry dress.

I made the long sleeved version of the dress (in navy to basically rip off the long sleeved sample because it’s gorgeous) but with a slight tweak – the long and 3/4 sleeve versions have a little cuff that you gather the sleeve into. I decided to turn the sleeve hem up instead and make a little elastic channel so I can push my sleeves up. It worked out quite well but I took too much length off the sleeve so they’re shorter than I’d like.

Here’s what they look like pushed up

I used a viscose twill fabric and it feels lovely, it’s so soft and drapey but it was a nightmare to work with. It frayed like mad so my notches kept disappearing and I had to go get the pattern pieces a couple of times to re-do them. It also marks and goes shiny where you press over things like the facings, darts and seam allowances. Ooh speaking of facings, I gave Katie’s non-flipping facing tutorial a go on this and I’m very impressed. I generally hate facings but these stay put nicely because they’re anchored in the sleeve seam.

My overlocker broke while I was sewing this too so I had to change to French seams part way through. I’m actually quite glad I did as it makes the insides look lovely and tidy. Apart from the skirt, which is part badly overlocked, part pinked.

The pattern comes with different cup sizes, A-D, which always confuses me slightly as I’m small of boob but big of rib but there’s a section in the instructions to help you choose what size to make. I made a B and I was so impressed with the fit that I immediately bought the Laneway dress and wittered on to the Manfriend about Jennifer’s block. The dart is in the right place! The dart is never in the right place on me!

Even the shoulders fit well. If I’m being picky I may narrow them a tiny amount before my next version but it’s perfectly wearable with them where they are.

I wore the dress to work today and got loads of compliments, which is always nice. It’s a great work dress because it feels smart but is really comfortable. I just love the off centre buttons and the way the neckline curves, it’s just so pretty.

In terms of construction everything went together smoothly. The sleeves inserted like a dream. They are the best sleeves I’ve ever sewn. I sewed the pockets even though I’m not the biggest fan of side seam pockets – these are actually the first ones I’ve ever sewn. I like that they’re set back into the seam so they don’t flip out but I probably won’t bother with pockets next time. They’re not worth the faff for me as I don’t use them for anything other than my hands.

The instructions are really thorough and I liked that there were little tips spread throughout them. The little note on the facing pattern pieces to tell you to cut out the interfacing with the glue side up was especially handy because I didn’t look at the instruction booklet when cutting.

The details

Pattern: Jennifer Lauren Handmade Mayberry dress

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 100 but you don’t need to print all 100. It’s just that many because of the cup sizes. There’s a handy sheet telling you which pages to print for what cup size and what sleeve length. I had to print 40 pages. But if I want to sew a different sleeve length in future I’d have to print out some more.

Easy to assemble? Everything went together fine but the pattern doesn’t have the triangle things on the edges so you need to make sure you have the front page with you when you assemble it so you know what page joins up with what.

A0 file included? Yes, 6 pages but each cup size is a different page so you wouldn’t have to print them all.

Measurements: I haven’t checked them in quite a while and I know they will be bigger now but last known numbers were: Bust 38.5″ Waist 31.5″ Hips 41″ (I’ll update this post when I’ve been brave enough to take them I checked them. They’re now: Bust 40″ Waist 33″ Hips 43″ so this is a sized down version)

Size made: 14B


  • Changed the shape of the facings to include the shoulder.
  • Shortened the sleeves by 2″ and turned up 1/2″ then 1/2″ again for an elasticated channel at the wrist instead of the cuff.
  • I put a bit of elastic in the middle of my drawstring so I can tie it tight but it’s still comfortable and I don’t have to adjust the tie when I sit down.
  • Sewed a 1.5″ inch hem instead of 1″.

Fabric used: Viscose twill from Oh Sew Crafty (I’m not sure how much sorry because I had lots of odd shaped pieces left over from cutting out another project)

Another version?

Yes definitely. I’m really happy with the fit across my shoulders and the armhole/sleeve. I can see me using the pattern pieces to see what changes I need to make to other patterns. I fancy making a Mayberry top too – I did try to make one as a wearable toile but I didn’t have as much fabric as I thought I did. It was just going to be the bodice with a gathered ruffle on the bottom.

Any changes next time?

I won’t shorten the sleeve if I do an elasticated cuff again and I won’t do snaps again. My floor was littered with dead snaps after I finished installing them and one has come loose already. Not a fan.

I may narrow the shoulder slightly, maybe 3/8″.

The verdict

Despite my snap hell and my self shredding fabric trying to ruin the experience I really like this dress. I love the fit and I’m all about the zipless dress so I’ll definitely make more. This may be the beginning of a pattern love affair.

Top 5 of 2017: Goals

Happy new year folks!


I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive season. I’ve had a lovely Christmas and Betwixtmas. It was mine and the manfriend’s 5th Christmas together and we’re finding our stride and traditions. Christmas Eve now features watching Arthur Christmas – I cry every time – and some veg prep. Christmas day my mum, nan, their dogs and sometimes my uncle come to us. There’s presents, booze, food, silly games and joy. Then on Boxing Day we go to the Manfriend’s parents’ house for more of the same with his giant family – he’s the youngest of five so if everyone is there I think there’s about 20 people.

Betwistmas is then spent hardly getting dressed, snaffling crisps, nuts and chocolate and watching TV, reading or pootling about. It’s wonderful. I’ve had a cold and a chesty cough so I’ve thoroughly enjoyed just being able to laze around and recuperate. We watched series 2 of Ultimate Beastmaster on Netflix this year and that was a fun addition to Christmas. I got the same sort of joy from watching that as I do from watching World’s Strongest Man – there’s just something I like about watching athletic feats whilst I’m stuffing crap food into my face and barely moving from the sofa.

I also got a pretty fantastic new sewing machine for Christmas. It’s a Pfaff Quilt Ambition 2.0 was a Black Friday bargain (nearly half price!) that I bought myself and then Aled and my mum gave me some money towards it so it got wrapped up for Christmas.

Anyway, goals. Let’s start by looking at how I did with last year’s goals. 

2017 Goals

  1. Stashbust! – Big old fail. The stash grew again. Sigh.
  2. Make a shirt – I made two Sew Over It Alex shirt dresses (one for me and one as a Christmas present for my mum) so I suppose that counts but it’s not what I intended when I set the goal. I intended a collar stand and sleeve placket. So this is a half success.
  3. Become a wrinkle whisperer –  Nope.
  4. Jeans! – I tried.
  5. Sew something with silk – Nope.

2018 Goals

1. Make things that bring me joy

The most important goal I think. I want to make more things that make me grin every time I put them on. It might be because I love the fabric, because I got a good fit or because I enjoyed the making. It doesn’t matter as long as wearing it makes me happy. (I made a festive sloth t-shirt on boxing day that definitely fulfils this brief.)

2. Put less pressure on myself

I didn’t have a great year with my mental health in 2017 and putting a load of pressure on myself with my sewing (touched on in my Reflections post) probably didn’t exactly help. So this year I’m going to make far more realistic plans and be kinder to myself about meeting them. No more lists of 28 things I want to make in three months.

Ooh, less “all or nothing” YouTubing too. It’s better to do one video every couple of weeks than get hung up on getting a video up every week and then falling off the face off the world for months when I burn out.

3. Try out a few new techniques

Maybe I’ll make a list like Fiona from Diary of a Chainstitcher of techniques I’d like to try so I can check them off as I go. I definitely still want to have a go at a shirt with sleeve plackets and a stand collar. I want to sew something with godets too and maybe I’ll brave a welt pocket this year.

4. Stashbust

I can’t not put this one on the list even though I’ve never managed it. I have started to be a lot more conscious with my fabric choices and I’m trying harder to only buy fabric when I have immediate plans to sew it.

5. Be a better blogger

Be a better photographer might be a more apt goal here as I’m fine with the writing bits, it’s the making myself presentable and taking photos of my makes that I’ve struggled with. I have so many unblogged makes now. I’d like to stay on top of that a bit better this year. I should probably start by taking photos of my top 5 hits and misses like I threatened to in my Reflections post…

So those are my goals. They’re a bit less SMART and a bit more fluffy this year but I’m cool with that as I generally seem to fail the SMART ones. Have you made goals this year? Have you gone SMART or more general like me this year?

Top 5 of 2017: Reflections

It’s top 5 time! Woooo! I love lists so I always enjoy writing these posts and reading other people’s top 5 and round-up posts. I’m doing things slightly differently this year and starting with reflections because I’ve been such a terrible blogger this year I don’t have photos of my hits or misses. They’ll have to follow once I’ve taken some photos. I’ve taken a bit of pre-Christmas leave so I’m already off work (whoop!) and I’m planning to have a bumper photoshoot at some point. Though I have been struck down by the lurgy so who knows if I’ll actually make good on that particular plan.

Anyway, my reflections:

1. I’ve gotten good at pattern tetris

This hasn’t really helped my stashbusting as I can usually get patterns out of much less fabric and I always end up with left over fabric – sometimes usable and sometimes in the annoying middle ground of being too big to get rid of but too small to actually be useful. I enjoy the sport of trying to use as little fabric as possible though. Some layplans can be so wasteful and I really appreciate it when a designer has put a fabric saving layout. Kitschy Coo’s Lady Skater dress is a good one for that. I also find it really baffling when the fabric requirements say that you’ll need more fabric if your print is directional and then the layplan has all the pattern pieces facing the same way. But I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent there. Single layer cutting and pattern puzzles are my jam.

2. I still don’t know how to fit properly

I tried to make a fitted dress for Halloween and the whole fitting process just went so badly I abandoned the plan. I’ve definitely learned things about my preferred fit and some of my body’s quirks but I still feel really clueless about how to fit. It was one of my goals this year to become a wrinkle whisperer and I don’t think I’ve made any progress with that one. This is the aspect of sewing that makes me wish I had a sewing relative who could take me under their wing.

3. I over plan

I always have really long lists of things I want to make. Far more than I ever actually make and then I end up putting loads of pressure on myself to make all the things and feel disappointed in myself, or worse, guilty, when I don’t make them. Which is stupid because this is my hobby. I am under no obligation to make anything at all.

I just did a quick count and my summer sewing wishlist had 28 things on it. Autumn had 24. To put that into a little bit of perspective: I made 26 things in the whole of last year and the most items I’ve ever made in one month is 7. So the most garments I could make in a season is 21. And that would only be if I was neglecting everything else in my life or if they were all simple things, which a lot of items on those lists were not. So that’s something to work on next year.

4. I suck the fun out of challenges

This one is very much linked to the over planning one. I want to take part in all the challenges and I constantly add more and more things I want to make to my list and then it all becomes something I have to do instead of something I want to do. Which goes completely against what the organisers are intending and what the hobby is supposed to be about. I still want to take part in challenges but I need to try to be a bit more laid back about them and not heap unnecessary pressure on myself. I’m already working on this one and it’s why I’m not doing the Little Red Dress Project this year even though I would have liked to.

5. It’s okay to buy clothes

I bought two pairs of jeans this year and that’s fine. I would still like to make jeans but trying to fit and sew jeans as quickly as possible because you’ve torn your only pair that fit isn’t a great plan. So I bought two pairs. I don’t particularly like the fit on either of them though. Jeanuary anyone?

There we go, that’s some of the things I’ve learned about me and myself and my sewing this year. I’ve been giving a bit of thought to next year’s goals already and I’ll probably write that post next. I’m doing this all backwards! Hope you’re all well and I’ll be back soon.

Celebrating TnT patterns

This month is very much a month for celebrating our TnT patterns – that’s Tried ‘n’ True, if you’ve never heard it before. It’s the Sewcialist theme this month but the end of the month (25th November – 1st December) is also One Week, One Pattern – or OWOP if you will – hosted by the lovely Sheona from Sewisfaction. And as I don’t have any finished items to share due to lack of oomph to get photos I thought I’d break my blogging silence with a little post about my TnT patterns and plans.

My TnT Patterns

Dixie DIY Ballet dress

This is one of my favourite patterns and I’m a bit surprised that I’ve only made 3 dresses from it. I’ve also hacked a t-shirt from it and used bits of it a few different hacks – with more planned (and talked about later on in this post).

Ballet dress // One with a more flared skirt // One with a gathered skirt


Helen’s Closet Blackwood cardigan

This is my most made pattern and it only came out this year! I’ve made 5 of them – one long, two hip length and two cropped ones. I need to have a bumper photoshoot and actually write a post about them! It’s my ideal cardigan and I want one in every colour.

True Bias Southport dress

Southport // Southport-ish // Another Southport ish

I’ve used the Southport dress loads. I’ve only made the dress as is once, but I’ve also made two simplified versions, a tank top and used the skirt with other tops to make pattern lovechildren.

Southport tank // Newport dress // Simple Sew Lottie/Southport dress lovechild

Grainline Scout tee

Original Scout  // Latest Scout // Middle Scout // Scout hack

I wouldn’t say that I’ve got the fit down on the Scout yet but it’s one of my most made patterns so I thought it deserved a mention. I’ve made three standard versions and two hacked off-the-shoulder versions (only one of which I have a photo of). A Scoutport mashup with the Southport dress is probably on the cards at some point too. If only because I like the name.

New Look 6217

I love my New Look 6217s but I don’t think I’ve got the fit right yet. They’ve all seen better days so it’ll soon be time to revisit the pattern.


One Week One Pattern

I actually recently made a video sort of related to TnT patterns. When the Love to Sew podcast ladies asked for questions for their Q&A episode @shar_bozz asked them if they could only make three patterns for a year what would they choose and how would they change them to make them unique, seasonal, etc. I thought it was a really interesting question and I put my thinking cap on to choose three patterns.

So when I saw that OWOP was going to happen again this year I thought that I should probably put my money where my mouth, use one of the patterns I chose and do some of the hacks I talked about in my video. The patterns I chose were:

Dixie DIY Ballet dress

This was the most obvious choice for me. I just really like the way it fits me across the shoulders, which is no mean feat as that’s my tricky spot.

It’s such a simple dress it has the power to look entirely different with just a few tweaks. It’s basically a knit block/sloper. You can change the neckline, add a different skirt and even just changing the fabric will make it look different. A scuba will give you a totally different dress to a drapey viscose jersey.

The t-shirt I’ve made from it is one of the first things I reach for from the clean washing. and I’ve started work on some more garments using it. I’ve cut out a sort of swing dress and I’m hoping to make two of them if possible. I want to make a long sleeved t-shirt and a boat necked dress with a pleated skirt. Overambitious aims as always. I fancy trying to make a cardigan from it at some point too. And it was on my Make Nine plans to make the Seamwork Neenah dress as a top but I’ve been thinking that I might just pinch the collar piece and neckline shape and hack the ballet dress instead as I know I like how it fits.

Sew Over It Ultimate Shift dress

I hadn’t actually made this one when I picked it, I just chose it based on its versatility and hackability. I have made one now – out of flame print quilting cotton. There’s some fitting work to do before it becomes a TnT pattern for me but I’m fairly pleased with it. I had to add a dart from the armhole to the bust after it was sewn up but it’s quite well hidden in the busy print.

Even without any hacking you can make lots of different variations. I made a sleeveless dress but want to make some sleeved tops. I quite like the idea of adding some shirring to the waist of a viscose version too. Lisa Comfort’s pregnancy hack where she added a seam, pleat and tie is lovely too. I’ve thought about giving that a go myself, even though I’m not pregnant. You get the tutorial of how to make it included with the pattern now and I think that you can email them to ask for it if you already have the pattern.

I want to make a slightly more flared version, a bit like the Grainline Farrow dress, and I have thought about copying the pockets from the Farrow dress too. I did think that you could add a seam at the waist for an elastic channel and then slash and spread just the skirt part too. If you’re a flounce fan it’s a great pattern to jazz up with a flounce or a frill.

One of my friends has a really nice collarless coat that I think would be totally copiable using the shift dress as a base. It would just need to be sized up, seam allowance (the inspiration coat has an exposed zip) or overlap (for buttons) added to the centre front. The back also has a pleat that’s sewn down for a few inches so I’d cut it on the fold with a couple of inches added to the centre back. You could also use it to make a 60s style coat if you did buttons, added a peter pan collar and made it a bit more swingy – by rotating the dart out maybe.


I don’t actually have a jeans TnT pattern yet so I cheated with this one and didn’t specify what pattern. I really want to work on finding a TnT jeans pattern though. If I didn’t have lots of other things to get done this month I should work my way through the six jeans patterns I now own. I have:

The Simplicity ones are probably the most promising because they have different pieces for different body types but I keep putting off tracing the pattern as I hate doing it so much. I would far rather tape a PDF sewing pattern together so I might go for one of the other patterns first.

There’s not much pattern hackery that I could think of for skinny jeans but jeans are something I’d struggle to live without. And they can look completely different in different fabrics. I did think that you could alter the pockets and give them more of a chino styling in a stretch twill. Once you’ve got the fit right in the hip/bum area I’m sure you could fiddle with the leg shape too for different looks. Turning them into flares by slashing and spreading the pattern at the knee is a nice easy one.

So there you have it. Those are my TnT patterns and patterns that I’d like to become TnT patterns. I’ll be back later on in the month to show you my Blackwood cardi collection after I’ve taken photos and I’ll report back on how OWOP goes. You can follow along on Instagram too.

Are you planning to join in with #sewcialiststnt or #OWOP? Are you a TnT pattern kinda person or more of a pattern butterfly?

Sew Over It Penny dress

sew over it penny dress

It was love at first sight when I first glimpsed the Sew Over It Penny dress in my inbox. She was the PDF club pattern in June and I snapped her up straight away. I even printed and assembled the pattern the very same day, which is not like me at all. Progress stalled while I waited for fabric to arrive and then I decided to use completely different fabric anyway. This fabric is quite different to what I normally go for but I really like it.

I got the manfriend to take these photos for me in the park behind the Town Hall 5 minutes from our house and I’m really pleased with them. I also tried to get some little videos to use on my YouTube channel and then some people walked past with their dog and I felt like a right dick. How fashion bloggers and YouTubers do it I don’t know.

Anyway, the dress! I’m a bit in love with it. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times I’m on a zip embargo so I’ve been trying to hunt down pretty and comfy zipless dresses, the Penny dress definitely sits nicely in that gap. I got lots of compliments when I wore it to work and I got to, “thanks, I made it!” to someone who didn’t know I sew, which is always fun.

penny dress

My version is accidentally a bit skimpy so don’t rush in and add length. It’s a midi skirt as drafted, which I don’t like on me. I just feel a bit swamped in fabric as I’m only 5’2″ so I shortened it before cutting it out. I was originally going to cut the length of the size 8 but then I measured it and thought that would still be a bit long so I took 2″ off. Then I tried it on once I’d made it and thought it was still slightly too long so I took about 2-3″ off when I levelled the hem and then regretted it. It’s hardly indecent but I think I’d like an extra inch or so.

I managed to get it out of much less fabric than the fabric requirements say (3.2m for my size) by ignoring the layplan and putting the pattern pieces around the skirt and cutting some pieces on a single layer. I got everything except the back bodice out of the same section of fabric as the skirt.

sew over it penny dress

The details

Pattern: Sew Over It Penny dress

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 40

A0 file included? Yes, 2 pages

Measurements: Bust: 39″ – Waist: 32″ – Hips: 41.5″

Size made: I chose to make a 12 – even though my measurements put me as a 14 – based on the finished measurements. The bust is the only important one in this dress and the 12 has the finished measurement of 41.5″ giving me 2.5″ of ease, which is plenty for my preferred fit.


I shortened the skirt a lot, probably about 6″ in the end, which was a bit too much.

Fabric used: About 2.25m of 140cm wide viscose from Oh Sew Crafty

soi penny dress

Another version?

Yes definitely, I’ve already cut it out and started sewing it.

Any changes next time?

I’ve cut it the same length but I won’t shorten it as much, if at all, when I level the hem. I lengthened the centre front a little bit (3/4″), tapering to nothing at the side seams. The bodice waist seam is completely straight and I find that shaped ones work better on me.

Any tips or advice

Whenever I sew a collar I always trim the undercollar down a smidge (1/8″ at most) as it helps the seam roll to the underside of the collar.

There is an error on the skirt pattern piece, it tells you to cut out two on the fold, when you on only need to cut out one. This has been corrected.

There was a notch missing when I sewed Penny so I found point 12 in the instructions a tad confusing but the notch has been added now. To be honest though, I think the instructions could be a bit confusing even with the notch because they don’t make it that clear that the facing is also the button placket. You’re told to “Very neatly, understitch the facing to the seam allowance, 2-3mm away from the seam. Then, to create the button placket, fold the facing to the inside of the bodice at the centre front notch. Press in place.”  I wouldn’t call it understitching when it is going to show on the outside and I think a fold line on the pattern piece would be really helpful. I haven’t re-downloaded the pattern yet though so I don’t know if they’ve added a line or just a notch.

I also found it helpful to change the order of the steps. The instructions have you sew the bodice side seams quite early on and you stitch the back facing down as one of the last steps. I did all of the collar steps, then stitched the back facing down, then sewed the side seams last before moving onto the skirt. I have seen someone on Instagram suggest doing the buttonholes before putting the skirt on too. But I didn’t bother with buttonholes and just sewed the placket shut.

sew over it london penny dress

Non-clueless versions:

I haven’t seen a version I don’t like though, check out the Instagram hashtag #soipennydress for loads more beauties.

Final Thoughts

I’m really pleased with my Penny dress and I think it’s a lovely pattern but I think you’d want to have a couple of projects under your belt before tackling it.

5 Sewcialists Who Inspire Me

Have you guys seen that the Sewcialists blog is back up and running? The aim of the Sewcialists (sewing + social media = sewcialist) is to create a community where everyone feels included. Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow and the creator of the Sewcialists wrote a lovely post on her blog about the aim of the Sewcialists blog. I think it’s a fab idea and I’m really excited to see it take off again, find lots of new sewcialists to follow and to take part in the theme months. I’m hoping they do Scraptember again because I could really use some inspiration for what to do with my scraps!

But I’m getting ahead of myself, this month is Tribute August, where the challenge is to make something inspired by another sewer you admire. To quote the blog:

“The “rules” are wide open, so interpret the challenge in your own way. You could:

  • Copy a project exactly
  • Try a pattern or technique someone else used
  • Imagine what your favourite Sewcialist would do with a piece of fabric
  • Push yourself out of your style comfort zone or make some awesome basics to fill in wardrobe gaps”

Throughout July people have been sharing who inspires them on the Sewcialists blog so I wanted to join in. I could easily have listed 20 people so it was really hard to narrow it down to just 5 (and I might sneak a tiny list of some more at the bottom of this post). Okay, lets go.

Gillian – Crafting a Rainbow@gilliancrafts

It may seem a little like I’m sucking up and gushing but Gillian is hands down one of my favourite sewing bloggers. If I see a post of hers in my Feedly I always read it first. Her blog is so helpful and inspiring, she has a great mix of finished make posts, tutorials and helpful series’ like the Better Pictures Project. I love her bright, colourful style. She sews almost exclusively with knits and always looks gorgeous, proving that comfy can be chic.

I’m always really inspired seeing how she hacks her TnT patterns and I’m trying to do that more these days. A couple of recent hacks I’ve made but not blogged yet are a cropped Helen’s Closet Blackwood cardigan and a Dixie DIY Ballet dress swing tee. You can see them both in my most recent YouTube video.

Rachel – @shesewsvintagestyle

I’ve only followed Rachel on Instagram since this year’s Me Made May – always a great time for finding new sewing peeps to follow. But I immediately fell in love with her style, which is vintage without being costume-y. I particularly love this gorgeous outfit:

She’s wearing Nina Lee Portabello trousers and a Sew Over It Silk Cami. As soon as I saw this outfit I started planning my own pink tank top – I planned to use my Southport dress hack – and wide legged navy trousers. I was originally planning Winslow culottes but I’ve wanted a pair of empire waist wide legged trousers since an episode of Agent Carter where Peggy wears a pair with a red blouse and her and Jarvis climb through a vent into a morgue.

The internet is stubbornly refusing to show me the trousers.

I toyed with the Decades of Style 1940s empire waist trousers, which would obviously be the most suitable choice but I’m contrary so in the end I bought the Deer and Doe Chataigne shorts because I like the pockets and the yoke and I’m going to lengthen them into trousers. I think I’ve bought completely unsuitable fabric but I’m doing to try it anyway. It’s probably a bit too drapey so I’m going to interface the yoke and the yoke lining and hope for the best. For the pink tank top I’m still going to use my Southport tank hack but after seeing Helen’s knit Southport dress I’m planning to make it in some fuchsia jersey I’ve got.T

Anya – Anna Zoe@anna.zoe.sewing

I think I’ve saved more of Anya’s Instagram posts to remember the pattern than any other sewcialist. She always looks absolutely stunning in whatever she wears. Her Me Made May posts were brilliant and I really enjoyed reading her little stories each day as well as seeing what she was wearing. Her blog and Instagram are really helpful and she’s done some great tutorials – a mini bra sewing tutorial on Instagram made me buy a bra sewing pattern! Granted I’ve not even printed it let alone started sourcing materials but the thought is there.

I also bought the Kommatia patterns skinny jeans pattern after seeing her fab version (below) and I’m hoping to make them at some point soon. I’ve built up quite a stack of jeans patterns and I still haven’t finished my Ginger jeans. I don’t think they’re going to fit very well but I’m determined to make myself finish them, I can’t abandon yet another pair of trousers at the fitting stage. I also love the shirt she’s wearing in this photo with the Kommatia jeans.

Hila – Saturday Night Stitch@saturdaynightstitch

I love Hila’s style. I love the colours she uses and the silhouettes she chooses. I particularly like her Sewaholic Hollyburn skirts and Granville shirts – I bought the Granville shirt pattern because of seeing hers and I should really buy the Hollyburn pattern too. Another thing that massively inspires me about Hila is her shoes – check out those silver brogues! She wrote about shoe choice in her post about her thoughts on last year’s Me Made May and I keep meaning to expand my shoe collection but I still live in the same tan pumps during the summer and tatty ankle boots in the winter. Which is definitely something I want to work on.

I just love everything Hila wears, her style is so varied but it all works together and everything looks great on her. The Anna dress above is amazing! For my make inspired by Hila I’m going to get brave and cast on an the Andi Satterlund Chuck sweater I’ve had the yarn for for over a year. Not sewing I know but it’ll mean when I finally finish it and sew myself a Hollyburn and Granville combo I can copy this gorgeous outfit:

Hattie – @hattie_van_der_krohn

The beautiful Hattie always looks so gorgeous and well put together. She looked more glamorous at 9 months pregnant than I will ever look. She’s made so many beautiful dresses that I would outright copy. A royal blue SOI Alex shirt dress might have to happen and I definitely fancy a funnel necked Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress now, preferably in houndstooth.

I was super inspired by her collection of Sew Over It Eve dresses and bought the pattern even though I’ve always been afraid of wrap dresses. I’ve bought some beautiful navy and pink floral viscose and I plan to make it this month.

Sneaky honourable mentions

Some of the other sewers I find inspiring:

I could go on and on but I’ll stop now.

Are you planning a make for Tribute Month? If you do take part remember to tag it #tributemonthsewing on Instagram to be included in a roundup post on the sewcialist blog. I’m hoping to get the Eve dress, Chataigne trousers and Southport tank top made but haven’t actually started any of them yet… Eeek!

#TwentySevenJean Begins

A couple of weekends ago I finally strapped on my big girl pants and waded back into jeans fitting. This time armed with my big ass book on fitting and a more easy going attitude to what’s good enough I was confident that I will actually get a wearable pair of jeans at the end.

I spent pretty much the whole weekend doing flat pattern alterations and then sewing up a rough toile, making tweaks and then altering my flat pattern again. In the end I reached what I tend to call the Eff It Point (though obviously I say the real word), most often seen with DIY but it does occur in other areas too. Where I’ve just had enough and decide that perfectionism can do one. I pranced around in my toile in front of the manfriend asking, “this is good enough, right?”

I cut out my jeans last weekend and finally got round to starting sewing them this weekend. After sewing the pockets, I basted them together and then tried them on. To be met with… WEIRD CROTCH WRINKLES OF DOOM

I have no clue how to fix this. Most things I’ve read say that frown lines from the crotch may mean that your crotch is too long but trying to pinch out the excess didn’t seem to do anything so I’m not sure that’s the problem. I wondered if I maybe needed to let the side seams out in that general area in case it’s just stress wrinkles but the jeans don’t feel too tight at all.

I had a sort of bubble crotch thing going on in my toile, which was helped by straightening out the front curve – the flat pubis adjustment in this post. But now I’m second guessing whether that was the right thing to do.

I bought a Craftsy class on fitting jeans called The Perfect Jeans: Fitting Techniques for Every Body by Jennifer Stern-Hasemann and Jennifer is really, really helpful if you ask questions. If you upload a photo of your problem and your pattern she will draw on the pattern suggestions of how to fix your problem. So I’ve just uploaded my photos and asked for help. Because I’m lost on my own.

I thought I’d share my progress here because I always find people’s posts about fitting really interesting. And if I eventually fix the problem it might be useful if you get the same problem. Plus, you might be able to give me some advice. 

Here’s the back view too:

This is view B of the Closet Case Ginger jeans shortened to a more mid rise jean by the way – using this tutorial. I shortened them by 3cm. Though looking at this photo I think I possibly shouldn’t have shortened them quite so much. And while I like a snug fit on the bum maybe a little bit more room wouldn’t go amiss.

Hopefully I’ll be able to improve the fit of this pair. But even if I can’t I’m still going to finish them and wear them. I’ll report back if they get any better.

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend with less frowning at yourself in the mirror than me.

Alina Sewing + Design Co Chi-town Chino Shorts

I very nearly didn’t blog these shorts as I hate the photos but I feel like my blog should be a full reflection of my sewing and if that means I have to share some unflattering photos so be it. They also really could have done with a go over with the iron, which doesn’t exactly help. But oh well.

I originally bought this green sateen from Fabric Godmother with the plan to make Grainline Maritime shorts as I loved Josie’s pair. But then I saw a few Chi-town chinos popping up on my Instagram feed and I really like the trouser version from expansion pack 2 so I thought I would buy that instead.

I really enjoyed making these shorts. The instructions are so thorough and well thought through I think they’re a perfect first shorts/trousers pattern. You are talked through absolutely everything, from how to choose your size, to how to make a muslin/toile, how to sew French seams on your pockets and even how you can customise the pattern.

The instructions start by getting you to do all of your prep first, which I really liked. You apply all your interfacing, sew the belt loops, fly shield, back pockets and finish some seams. It means everything is ready for you when you get to that stage.

I’ve only sewn two fly zips, these and the one on my abandoned Ginger jeans and the instructions were very similar. I’ve seen a lot of people rave about the Ginger jeans zip instructions but I thought these were possibly even better. On the Gingers you have to mark your pivot point and stitching line for the front crotch but on the Chi-town chinos the fly extension interfacing is shaped so that the edge of it is your stitching line. A simple thing to be impressed by and others might not care but I thought that was such a good idea.

I’ve got quite a lot of excess fabric bunching on the front and they’re a little bigger than I’d like them to fit, except on my bum so I think for my next version I’ll size down but do a full seat adjustment. Though lowering the rise a smidge might help too. Mine are a little shorter than as drafted because I did a turned up cuff instead of hemming them, I thought it looked better on me.

I made these over a few days just before going on holiday and I really enjoyed the whole process. I love making trousers/shorts, it’s just the fitting I hate. They’re a great project to work on in small chunks of time because of all the little steps, which I really like. You also get to feel like a sewing ninja when you’re done even though it’s pretty easy sewing, just with a few more steps.

My topstitching is pretty wobbly and the zip bartacks didn’t go particularly well. I tried to use it to cover up some of my iffy stitching and it didn’t really work. I installed my first jeans button – probably not quite in the right place if this photo is anything to go but but I’m still pleased.

This is a dreadful photo but I thought I should show the back as well. I don’t think they’d look this awful if I’d ironed them. You can see where I had a bit of wobble when I was topstitching the waistband facing. I did find that part a bit of a struggle, without having a seam allowance marking to follow. I stuck a bit of washi tape to my machine but it’s not the same. The pockets are perhaps a smidge too wide set and a bit too high. I also didn’t finish all the belt loops.

The pattern includes a really useful waist extension at the centre back seam to give you some fitting wiggle room, which I thought was a nice idea. As part of the sewing process Alina also has you baste the shorts together and pin the centre back so you know if you need the extension or not.

The details

Pattern: Alina Sewing + Design Co Chi-town Chino Shorts (also a skirt included)

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 31

A0 file included? No, only US copyshop

Measurements: Waist 31.5″ – Hips 41″

Size made: 12

Alterations: None, except the cuff.

Fabric used: 0.9m Green Stretch Sateen

Another version?

I’ve definitely got a pair of the trousers planned. I’ve bought some beige gaberchino from Minerva for a wearable toile but ultimately I want a navy pair.

Any changes next time?

Yes, I’ll size down and do a full seat adjustment. I may lower the bum slightly too and I might change the front crotch shape. We’ll see. I’m working on some Ginger jeans at the moment and I’ve been learning a lot about fit that I will probably apply to all my future bottom half makes.

Final Thoughts

Overall this is just a great, thoughtful pattern, with loads of lovely little touches throughout the instructions and I’m looking forward to making the trouser version and getting the fit right.

True Bias Southport(ish) Dress and Seamwork Wembley Cardigan

Morning lovelies, hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was nice and relaxed. Just pootling around the house, getting some laundry done and a bit of reading. We also watched series 8 of Archer, which was fantastic but too short. Anyone else an Archer fan? I really enjoyed the Dreamland thing and would quite like them to do the same for the next season but in a 70s or 80s style. Anyway, you’re here for the sewing, not for my views on a cartoon. I’ve got a two for the price of one post for you today with a dress and cardigan combo.

Southport dress

This is the first of two new Southport dresses I made for my holiday. I say Southport dresses but I took all of the interesting Southport bits off them. I cut the bodice on the fold to omit the button placket, swapped the drawstring for an elasticated waist and the skirt is slashed, spread and cut on the fold.

True Bias Southport dress

These photos were taken on the morning of our last day before we got turfed out of the villa. I wore it to travel home in because it was great for the warm, Cyprus leg but just needed a pair of leggings and a cardigan for the chilly plane part. I wore it again when we had our five day summer last week and it was perfect, it’s so cool and floaty.

The fabric is a lightweight viscose from Adam Ross Fabrics but I bought it on eBay, not directly. They marked it as B grade and I’d say that’s fair. It’s perfectly usable but a bit lightweight and easily pulled off grain. I would still buy it again.

Southport dress

It was a nice quick and simple sew, though I used French seams, which does make it a bit slower. I also ended up having to level the hem twice as my dressform – who I had been calling Doris but I feel like I may have stolen that name from someone so I’m going to rename her Susan – had gone a bit wonky and I didn’t notice. So it’s perhaps a smidge shorter than intended. I finally got round to padding out Susan’s bum so my hems are much more level on me now, which is nice.

The neckline is a wee bit gapey but I tweaked my next version and I think I’ve solved that now. It was already cut out so I just cut a bit off the front shoulder on the neckline side, tapering to nothing on the shoulder side and it seemed to work well so I’ll update my pattern piece to match.

True Bias Southport dress

The details

Pattern: True Bias Southport dress

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 51

A0 file included? No, only US copyshop

Measurements: Bust 39″ – Waist 32″ – Hips 41.5″ – Height 5’2″

Size made: 6


The same fit alterations I made to the bodice for my first version.

In terms of style alterations:

  • I cut the bodice on the fold to omit the button band,
  • Made an elastic channel out of the waist seam instead of the drawstring channel, and
  • used a slit-less slashed and spread version of the skirt.

Fabric used: 2m of viscose from Adam Ross Fabrics

Another version? Yep – I made another maxi version straight after this one.

Any changes next time?

After cutting this one out I remembered I wanted to do a swayback adjustment so I did a makeshift one of those by wiggling my pattern piece when I was cutting out my next version. I tweaked the front shoulder seam to fix some neckline weirdness.

Final Thoughts

I’m really happy with this dress. It’s a perfect, floaty and cool dress for warmer weather.

And on to the cardigan.

Seamwork Wembley cardigan

I bought this jersey a really long time ago with a view to making a t’shirt, thinking the burnout pattern would make it a bit more interesting than a plain white tee. But as you can see it’s rather sheer and there’s no way I could have made a t’shirt out of it without showing the world everything I’ve got. So it sat in my stash for ages until I thought of turning it into a little cardigan for chucking over dresses in the summer.

Wembley cardigan
Terrible photo but it was the only vaguely decent one of the cardigan open

I’m really not sure if I like it but I can’t put my finger on what it is that I don’t like. I have been wearing it and it was good for those really hot days we had as it’s so thin. My issue might be that it’s cut sort of like a waterfall style cardigan but having the bands on to finish the raw edges means that it doesn’t really drape like a waterfall cardigan. I prefer it tied at the front to just hanging loose.

Seamwork magazine wembley cardigan

The details

Pattern: Seamwork Wembley cardigan

PDF or Printed: PDF

How many pages: 25

A0 file included? Possibly. It wasn’t when I downloaded it but they do offer them now so they might have gone back and added A0 versions to the older patterns too. I just made my own A0 version by printing the US copyshop version to a PDF and selecting A0 as the paper size under page setup.

Measurements: Bust 39″ – Waist 32″ – Hips 41.5″ – Height 5’2″

Size made: M but I tapered the sleeves to a S

Alterations: Nothing but the sleeve grading

Fabric used: Just over a metre of burnout jersey from Minerva Crafts

Another version?

Really not sure, maybe I should make one in a different sort of fabric to see if that’s the problem. Or not waste my time and just work on a cropped Helen’s Closet Blackwood as I know I definitely like that.

Any changes next time? 

In terms of fit it seems fine. I do constantly push the sleeves up to 3/4 though so I probably might as well make a 3/4 length sleeve version instead.

Final Thoughts

I feel a bit meh about this one. It’ll probably make a useful addition to my summer wardrobe but I’m not going to rush to make more.