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The Culottes Jumpsuit!

July 31, 2017

This is a bit of a Marmite-type project – you either love it or you hate it!  It’s definitely a departure from my usual style, and a bit out of my comfort zone.  I haven’t worn it out in public yet, so at the moment I’m not sure about it.  I think I like it!  You can read more about it here on the Minerva blog.  They provided the fabric (plain black viscose), zip and pattern (McCall’s M7167).




Make your own teething pads for Ergo baby carrier

July 11, 2017

Recently I was asked to make a pair of ‘teething pads’ to fit around the straps of an Ergo baby carrier, with a loop at the top for hanging toys from.  In case you want to know how to make something similar, I’m writing a brief tutorial!

My friend carrying her baby in the Ergo carrier, with my teething pads attached

The dimensions I was given to work from were width 8cm, length 12cm, with an overlap of 3cm.

You will need:

  • 2 pieces of soft 100% cotton (main fabric), cut to a rectangle measuring twice the given width + overlap + seam allowance
  • 2 pieces of fleece or light quilt batting (same measurements)
  • 2 pieces soft backing fabric such as thick cotton jersey or towelling (same measurements)
  • about 5 inches ribbon (no wider than 5/8″)
  • popper tape – around 12″
  • thread

What to do:

Lay the main fabric wrong sides together with the fleece or batting and baste around the edge or serge together.

Cut a 2.5″ length of ribbon, fold it in half and place along the longer, top edge of the main fabric/fleece piece, having right sides together and raw edges even, approximately 2″ in from the top right hand corner.  Now lay your chosen backing fabric on top, right sides together, sandwiching the ribbon between the layers.  Pin in place.

Starting 1/3 of the way along the bottom edge, sew towards the bottom left corner, then up to the top left corner, continuing to sew all around the edge of the rectangle until you reach 1/3 of the way along the bottom edge on the right hand side.  Backstitch to reinforce.  You should be left with a gap at the centre bottom.

Remove pins and clip the corners as shown above, then turn right sides out through the gap.  Press, then topstitch into place around all edges, securing the opening closed as you do so.

Now sew your popper tape on.  You can overlap, but I found it to be very bulky this way, so I sewed both sides of the popper tape to the wrong side of the pads (i.e. the jersey side), so they would just close like a book.

Pop them onto your baby carrier and you’re good to go!

Thank you to my friend for the photos 🙂

Hummingbird print Scout Tee

July 4, 2017

Last month when I went to the Sew Up North meet up, I was very restrained when it came to buying fabric.  I don’t like having a big stash of fabric – it stresses me out if I can’t just sew up what I’ve got, and it makes me feel somewhat unproductive.  As we wandered around the market, I saw so many lovely fabrics, and all at such great prices, that I was too overwhelmed really to pick one out.  As a consequence, I spent most of the time just standing near the stalls and chatting away to everyone instead, which was great!  However, when we got to Jack’s Fabrics, I noticed that Amy was holding a rather lovely bolt of fabric, and IT WAS ONLY £1.50 PER METRE GUYS!  It was a silky sort of fabric, very light and floaty and drapey, and I knew it would be just perfect for a Grainline Scout Tee.  I wanted another one as I’ve been wearing my first version a lot with jeans and with my denim Moss skirt.  Both Amy and I bought a couple of metres each, feeling very pleased with ourselves.

Grainline Scout Tee

I made my top on the Monday – it’s a super easy and quick sew!  The top doesn’t really have much hanger appeal, but stick a pair of boobs under it and it looks grand.

Grainline Studio Scout Tee

I can wear this without a cami underneath and it isn’t so sheer that my bra shows, so that’s handy for when it’s really hot, and with a cami underneath it’s a bit warmer! Win!

Looking forward to seeing what Amy makes with her fabric!

Blue rose print Gertie dress

June 29, 2017

When the latest Cath Kidston catalogue landed on my doormat recently, I was immediately inspired by their colour palette of blue and white floral prints, and got straight on the hunt for some blue roses from Minerva to make my own dress.  They had exactly what I was looking for – a bold and beautiful rose print stretch cotton sateen.  When, a few weeks later, my copy of Love Sewing arrived, I couldn’t help noticing that one of the illustrations on the pattern envelope that came free with the magazine was also a blue floral print!

Mood Board Inspiration

I don’t know about you, but I always associate rose prints with Gertie, so I chose my ideal pattern of hers for this print: the Surplice dress from the book ‘Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book’.  I have made this dress before as a Minerva project (using a mini octopus print!), and I really like the bodice style, so I knew it was going to be a winning combination.

I was able to make the dress in just one day, which was very pleasing, and I wore it the next day to the Sew Up North meet up in Leeds which was great fun!  So lovely to see old friends, meet new friends, and treat myself to a few lengths of fabric!

My sewing pins which I wore to Sew Up North!

Minerva provided the fabric, zip and thread for this dress, and I provided the interfacing, the pattern and the sewing 🙂  I’m so in love with this dress – I think it’s beautiful.  You can read more about its construction over on the Minerva site, where there are more photos too.

Bye for now!

Tilly and the Buttons Coco Top

June 12, 2017

I’m always trying to squeeze garments out of pieces of fabric that are too small.  I had some fabric leftover from my Colette Moneta dress, which I decided to get a Coco top out of to wear under one of my many dungaree dresses!  I had to get creative with the cutting layout as usual, and it meant that the top would have to be short sleeved, and that the sleeve seam allowance would include the selvedge.


Once the sleeve was hemmed, you can’t see this unless it’s inside out.

Hemmed sleeve

There’s not much to say about the pattern itself – I’ve used it six times, I think, now!  It’s a very handy little pattern to have.  It’s really quick and easy to make and I like the fit of it on me.  As a top, it goes great under dungarees and it looks nice with jeans and it’s a good length.  I’d like to make another Coco dress soon – I’ve worn my black one LOADS, but I chopped my purple one into a top, so I need to fill that gap!

Tilly Coco Top with short sleeves

I made this during Me Made May 2017, and the first time I wore it was under a dungaree dress.

Me and a mini pirate for Me Made May (his outfit made by me too)

A nice, quick, easy addition to my wardrobe!

Glitter Star Print Linden Sweatshirt

May 19, 2017

Earlier in the year I went to visit a friend in London and we went to the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show at Kensington Olympia, where I treated myself to some lovely glittery stars sweatshirt fabric to make a second Grainline Linden sweatshirt.  I made my last one in September and I’ve worn it quite a lot, so I wanted a second one to add into the rotation.  This fabric has a really soft, cosy, slightly fluffy backing and feels lovely to wear.

As is frequently the case with me, the fabric I chose was the last of the bolt, so I ended up with less than 1.5m, but I reckoned I could make it work anyway.  I did, but I had to cut View B, which is the shorter length, in order to squeeze it all onto the fabric.  I was a bit disappointed that I had to do this, because I’m not a fan of really short tops, and I’m quite long bodied anyway, but it was the best I could do.

Cutting layout – a bit of a squeeze!

Rather than go with View B for the whole thing, though, I still had enough fabric to cut the long sleeves and the hem bands for View A (although I couldn’t get the back hem band on the fold, so I had to cut two pieces and have a centre back seam).

I didn’t use ribbing for the cuffs or neckband because I couldn’t find any that matched and I didn’t want a contrast colour.  It’s fine not to use ribbing, the only problem I have found is that when you don’t use ribbing for cuffs, it’s harder to roll your sleeves up when washing up or something, because the cuffs are not quite stretchy enough!  I can live with that, though.

Grainline Linden Sweatshirt

In the end, by adding the hem band to View B, the length is not noticeably shorter than View A, and I’m happy with it.  It curves upwards slightly, but it doesn’t seem obvious when I’m wearing it.

Photo taken during Me Mad May 2017, worn here with the Grainline Moss skirt

What a great pattern – I really do like Grainline Studios designs!

Pride and Prejudice Preparation

May 9, 2017

Every year, I get together with one of my best friends and we spend a weekend together watching Pride and Prejudice (BBC, 1995), stuffing our faces with cheese, and drinking lots of wine.  We started this in 2004 I think, and since then we’ve both moved around quite a lot, changed careers, got married, and had children, but still we always manage to find a weekend to revel in the glory of Colin Firth in those trousers.


Nowadays instead of it being just the two of us, carefree and dependent free, it’s the two of us, three children and two husbands.  It’s getting harder and harder to sit quietly and watch the programme, because we’re trying to entertain the kids, prepare extra special meals, and fit in everyone’s needs and wants.  As we basically know the script by heart, we don’t need to concentrate super hard!  The eldest of the three children is now willing and able to watch with us in a relatively sedate manner, but the other two usually play whilst it’s on in the background – which is fair enough!  I’m sure the day will come when the eldest decides that this tradition is totally lame, but by then I reckon we’ll be able to revert to it being just the two of us and we might be able to go and stay in Bath and visit the Jane Austen centre.  It’s a continually evolving tradition.

Back in 2011, we bought some bargain plain cotton from Abakhan for £1 per metre.  There was not much choice of colour, so we ended with pale blue and orange, and I used the fabric to make us each a Pride and Prejudice Regency-style dress, fully lined with cotton voile.  (I had a bit of help sewing the costumes from my friend Aileen – thank youuuu!)  The pattern I used was Simplicity 4055 – a costume for a Regency era gown.  I also made my daughter a dress in some leftover orange fabric – she was only 1 at the time.  This dress has since been passed on to my friend’s daughter, and I made a new dress made for my daughter in the leftover blue fabric:

Three years ago!

Our dresses have served us well, however, I wanted a change, and for the past few years I’ve been half-heartedly on the lookout for new fabric which looks suitable for the period.  Eventually, I found some fabric which I thought would be suitable at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Kensington Olympia earlier this year – the only problem was there were only two end bolts of the fabric, and not even the full amount I needed.  Obviously, I did not let a tiny thing like that deter me, so I bought the lot (combined length of 3.3m split into two lengths).

For my new dress, I wanted a better fit.  I wanted the underbust seam to sit actually below my bust rather than across it, and I wanted more gathering across the entire bodice front rather than just a little on each side.  That’s when I considered a different pattern: New Look 6096, which I picked up in Boyes reduced to £1 because it has been discontinued.

Pattern envelopes side by side

Line drawings, side by side

Ok, so it is not authentic Regency design, but who cares?!  It looks the part and what’s more it looked easy to sew – winner!  It’s also unlined, which saves time and money – bonus!  Plus, I’m pretty sure this is the pattern my friend Amy used to make herself a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies dress, which worked out great!


First of all, I made a toile of the bodice, and, as I suspected, it was not big enough to accommodate the girls.  I made my adjustments to the pattern and BOOM.  Pride and Prejudice dress complete, and with only a short length of fabric to spare!

Finished dress – zero embellishment – just straight up

So, you know how I said I had a bit of fabric left over?  Well, the short bit of fabric left on the fold was enough for a bodice front for my daughter, with not a cm to spare!  Managed to cut the bodice back out and then some seriously puffy sleeves on the cross grain.  (I used New Look 6309 for the bodice and sleeves, btw).  The skirt was going to be a challenge.  I needed it be 32″ long, but there was no way I had the width necessary to cut a skirt front and back.

Scrap fabric left over, to make a skirt out of

In the end I cut six rectangles of fabric of differing widths but all 32″ long, and I pieced them all together into one big panel, gathered the top, and sewed it to the bodice.  This means that the skirt has six seams in total (centre front, centre back, and four side seams), but because it’s gathered at the top it isn’t really noticeable.  I really got my money’s worth out of those two bolt ends!

New Look 6309

I wanted a bit more embellishment on my daughter’s dress, so instead of doing boring top-stitching, I did a decorative stitch around the neckline.

I also found a length of vintage lace which had belonged to my Grandma, and I thought what better way to use it than on this dress, so I added it to the hem, and also to the waist.

Back view

My daughter is absolutely enchanted by the dress, and we are looking forward to wearing them together in a few weeks when we get together for P&P 2017!  Plus, my friend’s daughter can now upgrade to the larger pale blue dress, and I have promised to make my friend a new dress once she finds some fabric that she likes.

My dress again

Overlocked seams on the inside

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