Category Archives: Blogged Favourites

The six thousandth six thousand dress

Like the whack-a-mole game you just never know when another New Look 6000 will pop up.

NL6000 (4)

Let’s talk about fit. The small ripple across my hips almost disappears when I stand up straight…

NL6000 (2)

See? But for my next make of this pattern I’ll add a little more ease around my hips to get rid of it completely. What doesn’t disappear no matter how much smoothing of standing tall I do is the ‘n’ shaped ripple under my bust. What adjustment do I need to do for this fitting issue please?

NL6000 (5)

The fit in the back is pretty good though. I took out some back neck gape before attaching the zip.

I went all out stash busting for this make: The thread is left over from a Roman blind make a few years ago, the brown wool-mix scratchy stuff and the Chinese brocade I used for lining were in my acquired stash. Scratchy but free fabric meant that I was annoyed but not too cross with myself when this happened…


Overlocker incident No. 1. I’m surprised to have owned the machine for 5 months before the first incident occurred and luckily it only caught the lining not the shell fabric.


Despite my frivolity for the final photograph, I’m not completely happy with this dress yet… and so not done with the pattern either!


Ticker Tape Maxi

I’m glad I got the rant about the sizing and instructions on this pattern and the awful silver stretch velvet toile out of the way in a different post. Despite my final pattern pieces barely resembling the original pattern, here are my three favourite blogged versions of McCalls 6559:

1. Pink and purple aztec pattern by Susan of Knitters Delight.
2. Toy’s peach and purple circle number (can you believe she was going to get rid of this fabric?!). Love her blog name too ‘Life Happens Be Positive’.
3. Simple but effective Holiday style stripe on Brown Paper patterns (also check out her Maxi Dress Off post )

ticker tape maxi 3

The fabric reminds me of ticker tape – you always see that in American films when they have big celebrations or parades. Is it real or just in the movies? Anyway, it was lovely to sew with (bought from ebay seller material_magic1) and reminded me that good quality fabric is worth it. Whilst perfecting the fit, I tried it on over colourful underwear and you couldn’t see through the fabric even though the background to this fabric is white!

ticker tape maxi 1

Cutting was tricky because the pattern pieces are longer than my cutting board. Once I have all the ripples smoothed out the last thing I wanted to do was move everything. I used a layer of tissue paper underneath and another between layers of fabric which made the whole lot easier to slide.

ticker tape maxi 2

I tried a narrower neck and armhole binding, which looks much better. The remainder was constructed it the same way as my peach vest top. Pattern instructions… pah!

p.s. there’s a cool Simplicity Giveaway going on over at Pendle Stitches so check it out. You’ve gotta be in it to win it!

A skirt of triangles, marmite and personal space

Remember the teaser I wrote in my Stash Delve: Cushions post about having found another fun fabric at Ikea? Well here it is….

Simplicity 2451 Triangle Skirt 1

Ok, ok so I am fully aware that this fabric is like Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. The first person I showed the fabric to said “that’s horrible”  (thanks Mum!), the second diplomatically said they’d have to see it sewn up as a skirt before deciding (which meant don’t ask again and they won’t lie!). I made the skirt anyway, using Simplicity 2451. This version really is a polar opposite to my navy corduroy first make!

Simplicity 2451 Triangle Skirt 2

On my first outing in this skirt I had two big compliments, with one of the ladies even plunging her hand into a pocket to feel the habutai lining and running her finger over the pleats. Normally I’m a bit guarded about personal space but I enjoyed someone admiring and taking in all the features of this skirt that I have a fondness for too (and she’s a good friend so I’ll let her off for the personal space thing!). But the second time I wore it, a complete stranger stroked my hip, told me that my skirt was really fun and asked where I got it. This was at Walthamstow Market so when I told her I made it she demanded to know which shop was selling the fabric. I’m sure I blushed while saying Ikea.

Simplicity 2451 Triangle Skirt 3

And two points on pattern matching:
1. It helps if the fabric is printed evenly- the corners of some triangles don’t meet up while others wonkily overlap.
2. If the pattern repeat is larger than your circumference, pattern matching at the sides and back is impossible.
I settled for aligning the horizontal lines all the way round and centered the diamonds/triangles on the waistband and front panel. I think it works but I also know I had no other option!

So what do you think? Be honest… I’ve seen the looks I get wearing this and they’re 50/50 so I can take it.

Seasonally Inappropriate Skirt

This is the skirt that has been hanging around my sewing room wanting for a zip. It’s Simplicity 2451 and after gaining confidence and zip skills at Miss Makers Zips Demystified course at the weekend I have finished it. As is customary when I have a new pattern, here’s my top three (and there are plenty to choose from in blogland):

1. ScruffyBadgerTime made a lovely teal treat
2. A bright and happy offering by Bernie and I
3. The work-appropriate version made by The musings of a dedicated Housefiancee

My top three reflects my plans for this pattern because I’d like to a make a basic wardrobe staple, a colourful summer version and a sensible office-worthy work skirt.

Simplicity 2451 Navy Corduroy 1

This navy corduroy, lining and bias tape were all in my acquired stash so I just needed to purchase the pattern and a zip – bargain. Corduroy is completely inappropriate for the summer (even a British summer) but I’m sure it will be well worn come autumn/winter. It’s also very tricky to photograph and highlights the dead pixel line of my camera embarrassingly well!

Simplicity 2451 Navy Corduroy 2

I dropped two sizes after making a toile/muslin – when will I learn just cut by intuition and not what the packet recommends?! Lining was easy because I’d read Winnie’s order of doing things and Alice’s tutorial too. The navy lining is not the best quality but in the interests of using up the stash and not spending money, it’ll do. Cutting the pocket facings out of the lining helped to reduce bulk at the seams.

Simplicity 2451 Navy Corduroy 3

Another bulk reducing technique I used was to bias bind the skirt yolk facing instead of pressing under as recommended in the pattern instructions – see I can deviate from pattern instructions… sometimes!

Triple Toile Trouble for Sureau

I’ve been coverting the Sureau Dress by Deer and Doe for a few months now. Having seen in on so many blogs, it became really hard to choose my favourites but I managed to whittle it down to three:

I was so excited when this pattern was delivered but I’ve had a steep learning curve altering it to fit. I’m worried that all my novice alterations have changed the original features of the dress too much. Here’s my process (hours and hours worth) consolidated into one post:

1. I made the first full toile from the hideous fabric (which is now all used up!) using the pattern size that was closest to my measurements.

Sureau Toile 1

Two major problems were the excess fabric in the bust area and too tight round the waist.

2. At this point I switched to a gingham cotton scrap and just played with the bodice.

Sureau Toile 2a

I made a small bust adjustment (SBA) to the front bodice using Paunet’s and Moonbeam’s tutorials on this technique. At the same time, I made the legs of the dart narrower and widened the button placket to increase the waist. I then had to lengthen the bodice to keep the waist at the same level as before (SBA shortens the pattern). This was an improvement but it was still too roomy and a gape at the neckline had appeared. I made another SBA, shortened the distance over which the gathers are made and tackled the gaping neckline using Phat Chick Designs tutorial. The fit was now better but the dart came too far up and looked weird. I pinched, pinned and transferred these changes to the paper pattern according to Karen’s post on this technique.

Sureau Pattern Adjustment

Returning to my original hideous fabric toile, I replaced the newly adjusted pattern pieces and continued with construction. The sleeves required a 7cm reduction down the whole length but this seemed easy in comparison to the bodice.

Afterwards I had a complete lack of confidence to cut my fashion fabric for fear that I’d missed something crucial or hadn’t copied my changes to the tracing paper properly. I embarked on a third toile, cut fresh from another fabric from my “for toiles” pile. Cutting a fresh toile from new pattern pieces is a labourious but worthwhile task. It highlighted that I also needed to transfer my changes to the facings and it restored my confidence.

Sureau Toile 3

Unfortunately, cutting my fashion fabric and sewing up will have to wait for another weekend.

I can’t express how helpful the Sureau Sewalong was (even though I’m a year and a half late!), I’m sure there would have been more rounds of toile trouble without it.

Sureau Sew-along

Beach Holiday Playsuit

What did I sew on a rainy, cold Sunday?  A playsuit (romper, jumpsuit) the fun girls cover-up for the transition from sunbed to beach bar! I wasn’t sure about the cover images on the packet of McCalls 6083 but a quick internet search lead me to some inspiring makes. For the short version only, here’s my top three blogged favourites:

1. Sew I Thought’s circus themed cotton cuteness romper.
2. Beach resort brights by Lola of Inspired by Lola
3. LulaLouise’s side zip for easy access grey black version.

I threw caution to the wind by skipping a toile. Instead I took some detailed measurements of the pattern pieces to ensure that I wouldn’t end up with a saggy crotch, or worse!

Beach Playsuit

I’m pleased with the pockets and belt – sewing really slowly is the secret to neat top stitching whether its on a curve or long straight line. I tested both white and black thread on scrap fabric before deciding on black – what would you have used?

Beach Playsuit Pocket

As for the overall garment, I’m sat on the fence about this one. The fit is fine, I’m just not sure about the pink flowers (my biggest hang-up!). So, while you won’t catch me nipping to the shops in it, I’d be happy to pack it in my suitcase for a beach holiday… now where’s my passport?

The hideous fabric toile cry for help…

Simplicity 2360 is my first dress pattern, selected because it seems relatively simple for a beginner make (no zips!) and some beautiful creations have been blogged about by the online sewing community. My top three for this pattern are:

1. Green Apple’s variation for Autumn
2. A Coloured Sugar Party Dress by Boo Dogg and Me (she also made a cute linen one with sleeves)
3. Sew Bold  (who has a new blog home at Staying Steyn) executed a fantastic pattern adaptation to make a summer top

All I had to do was decide which hideous polyester (think the old-style polyester, static, cheap, non-breathable and that’s before you see the print!) was getting the Simplicity 2360 toile treatment…

destined for toiles

Overall making the toile was easy, I understood every instruction that came with the pattern and I could see how the dress was going to come together (so no pattern revelations like I experienced with the facing for my practise New Look 6483). The fit around the bust  and body is as good as can be expected for an over-the-head-dress with elasticated waist. I am now sure that I do not suit large bold patterns or see-through fabric, but it really brings out the colour my dummy’s complexion, don’t you think?!


I’m going to add a little length to the bodice pieces as the waistline is slightly too high on me but I can take a couple of inches off the skirt which is too long. I will also omit the pockets which ruin the line of the skirt.

And my cry for help? Well I have a few problems that I’m hoping some more experienced sewers can offer me some guidance on:

pointy sleeve

The sleeves on my toile stick out at an odd angle. Could this be because the hem on the sleeve makes it too stiff to drape? The fabric will not hold any crease or shape no matter how much I press it. Despite this, I can’t get rid of the crease down the centre of the skirt and the sleeve isn’t floppy at all.

bias binding fail

The bias binding on my Berry Sorbetto was easy… or maybe  just beginners luck because on this dress it has led to an unsightly sticking up affair. Did I do something wrong? Or is this just the result of not being able to press the bias tape away from neckline? Would attaching the bias binding as a facing resolve this issue?

And finally, I have a silk-cotton blend for my fashion fabric so any tips on working with this type of fabric?