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Care Bears dress!

July 24, 2019

This summer I organised a Teddy Bear’s picnic at work, and decided to make myself a dress to tie in with the theme (any excuse for a novelty dress!).  I couldn’t find any teddy bear themed fabric that I loved, so decided to order a single Care Bears duvet set and use that instead.

For the pattern I thought I’d give the Simple Sew Sienna dress a try.  The pattern came free with Sew Now a while back.  The only thing I changed really was to cut the front bodice on the fold rather than have a centre front seam.

The pattern was great and sewed up really quickly and easily.  I was feeling very pleased with myself after trying it on and then when I tried to get it off, the zip jammed and broke!  I was absolutely gutted, and had to spend ages carefully unpicking it and reinserting a new zip.  I really loved wearing the dress though and got lots of compliments, plus it will double up as a dress to wear to an 80s themed party I’ve been invited to.

I think the pink hair is the finishing touch, what do you think?!

Tutorial: Making a V-shaped pillowcase

June 21, 2019

Recently I bought a v-shaped pillow to make sitting up in bed more comfortable, but I could only find a plain white slip cover to fit over it.  I fancied something a little more exciting, so I thought I’d make one with this absolutely gorgeous bee upholstery fabric sent to me from Dalston Mill in exchange for a review and tutorial on a website called Cut Out and Keep (link here).

Dalston Mill kindly sent me 2m of this fabric, and then I bought some large pompom trim from my local haberdashery, and that was all I needed other than the sewing basics (needle, thread, shears etc).

Here’s how you could make one for yourself!

You will need:

  • 2m of 60” wide fabric (without nap/directional print)
  • 4m pompom trim (optional)
  • Thread to match
  • Sewing machine (zipper foot would be useful for attaching pompoms)


  1. First of all, open your fabric out to single layer, then fold cross-grain just enough that you can cut two pillowcases. Don’t forget to add seam allowance!
  2. Next, cut around your pillowcase as a template, again, remembering to add on the seam allowances, otherwise it will be too small! If you have pinking shears, you could cut with these so that you don’t need to finish the raw edges later.
  3. One of the ends needs to be longer than the other, so that it can fold back in on itself. This is the bit that you tuck over the end of the pillow when you put the case on.
  4. Finish the raw edges of the long end and the short end by sewing a narrow hem.
  5. Place the pieces right sides together. Fold the enveloping longer piece back against itself, wrong sides together, so that the folded edge is level with the finished edge of the shorter piece.
  6. If you are skipping the pompom trim, you can go ahead and sew the seam. Starting at the open end (which will have three layers of fabric), sew all the way around the V until you come around to the other side of the open end.  Finish the raw edges to prevent them from fraying (unless you cut the fabric with pinking shears).
  7. If you are adding a pompom trim, insert this between the two pieces of fabric, having the raw edges even, and pompoms facing away from the raw edges, towards the middle. Carefully pin or clip in place, then sew as detailed in step 6.  I used a zipper foot for this, to help me pass by the pompoms.  At the corners of the closed end, you may need to snip into the pompom trim to help turn the corner neatly.
  8. Turn your pillow case the right way out, check your pompoms are positioned how you would like, and hey, presto! You have a lovely, handmade slip-cover for your pillow!

Spots and Stripes are good, but winking eyes are better… ;-)

April 12, 2019
I’m so pleased to be able to finally share with you today my Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top, made with gorgeous Art Gallery Fabrics ‘Meadow Dreams’ jersey.  I really fell for this particular print – the monochrome design means it goes beautifully under any one of my million pairs of dungarees and dungaree dresses – and of course, the quirkiness of the print is a winner.  Spots and stripes are good, but winking eyes are better! 😉
Art Gallery Fabrics, to me, are a luxury brand.  Their designs are beautiful and unique, and their fabrics are expensive.  I’ve sewn my fair share of jersey fabrics of varying qualities but this is by far the best for t-shirt tops or dresses.  It is made with Pima cotton and spandex.  I did not know what Pima cotton was, so I had to look it up.  Apparently the cotton fibres in Pima cotton are longer and silkier, so the fabric they weave is smoother and stronger.
I actually made this top about 6 months ago, and it’s been worn and washed many times, and it still looks as good as it did when I first received it.  There’s been no pilling, the stretch has not deteriorated, there has been no shrinkage (or growing!), and the fabric is still lovely and soft and smooth.  I am super impressed with the quality, and with the gorgeous design as well, I think it’s well worth the money.
This is the second time I have used the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes pattern – the first time I used it was for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network and I used a whale print jersey.  It’s the perfect pattern for a basic long sleeved tshirt, and it fits my shape really well.  It’s also a nice easy make, and comes together quickly.  I didn’t make any alterations.  What more could you ask for?!
I sewed most of the seams using my overlocker, but did zigzag stitch around the neckline and the hems.  I do have a twin needle which I could have used for the hem, but I must have just thought it was easier to zig zag it at the time.  It’s better for a stretch fabric anyway – when I made a pencil skirt in a knit fabric with a twin-needle-stitched hem, the stitches didn’t stretch with the fabric.
I’ve tried to show a variety of photos of me wearing the top.  I’m wearing it with my pink corduroy Cleo dungaree dress in one of the photos, with my Bibi pinafore dress in another, and with a White Stuff skirt and cardigan in another.  It’s certainly versatile!
Thank you Minerva for sending me the fabric for review, I hope I have done it justice!

The Rose Rivers Dress – World Book Day Costume

March 5, 2019

This year for World Book Day my daughter decided she would like to go dressed as a character from one of Jacqueline Wilson’s latest books: Rose Rivers.  We only had the cover art to go on, but in my stash of vintage patterns given to me by a dear friend, I found this 80s extravaganza of a pattern, already cut in an age 10, that my friend’s mum had used to make her a bridesmaid’s dress for her uncle’s wedding.  Now, 25 years later, it was going to be used again!

I bought mint green and emerald green crepe fabric, and some mint green trim which looked as though it would coordinate on my computer screen, and luckily it did in real life!

The first alteration I needed to do was to create a separate pattern piece for the top section of the bodice.  Next, I rotated the dart so that it could be incorporated into one of the design lines creating the V effect on the main bodice.

I then needed to change the sleeves to make them fit on the fabric I had left.  I slashed into the pattern and condensed it slightly to make it narrow enough to fit the fabric, but still be reasonably voluminous.  It’s a good job I wasn’t making sleeves for Anne of Green Gables!!

The rest was pretty straightforward, really.  I topstitched the V design, because piecing it would have been much more time consuming.

The result was a proper 80s vibe dress and I think it definitely looks like the one Rose Rivers is wearing in the illustration.  My daughter and I were rather taken aback when the paperback version of the book came out, as they had changed the colour of the dress to an insipid pink which just seemed so wrong!

My daughter loves the dress and still wears it now as just a normal, everyday dress!

Dottie Angel wrap apron – Simplicity 8186

November 27, 2018

Earlier this year I began a new job as a family and outreach lay worker at my local church.  I had already been volunteering at the playgroup there for over a year, so when the job came up it seemed pretty logical for me to apply for it.  I couldn’t be luckier.  It’s part time, so I still have time for running the family home, sewing, and whatever else takes my fancy.  It’s flexible, so I don’t have to pay out for childcare, and I can still be there to take my kids to school, pick them up, and ferry them around to all their after-school activities. It’s fun: I get to do crafts with babies and toddlers at play group, organise fun activities for families who come to Messy Church, and organise holiday special events, for example so far this year we’ve put on a family fun day, a teddy bears’ picnic, a light party and hot cooked lunches during half term for those who usually get free school meals.  It’s good to be doing something in my local community that benefits families, and I get to be involved with the local schools too, but without being a teacher – which is what I did before but I found it super stressful!

When I began my new post, my line manager suggested I use my sewing skills to make myself a ‘tabard’ or some kind of jacket to wear at work.  My first idea was to make a traditional sort of tabard thing but pieced, with a heart in the middle and rainbow colours radiating out around it.  I still think that would be pretty cool, but novelty prints have always been a weakness of mine, and when I saw this hand-print Cotton Fabric from Minerva I thought that would be perfect for the job.  The hand-print seems to be a childhood rite of passage – surely every parent has at some point had a print of their child’s hand done.  It’s also very definitely evocative of ‘Messy Play’ – something that we try to incorporate into our plans as much as possible.

I decided to craft-it-up to the max for this project.  No boring tabard for me – instead I chose a really lovely Dottie Angel sewing pattern for a wrap apron – Simplicity 8186.  You can read more about what other fabrics and bits of haberdashery I used over on Minerva’s Blogger Network site here.
I added the ‘Messy Church’ logo that I found in the cupboard at work.  Someone must have cut it out from a sweatshirt, but after establishing that no-one really knew where it had come from or whose it was, I decided to applique it onto the pocket, along with a bee patch, which I made with two different bee fabrics I had, because the name of the play group is ‘Busy Bees’.
I love the finished apron!  It also looks good with my Tilly Coco top which I happened to be wearing when I was trying it on for photos.
Thank you Minerva for the fabrics and haberdashery. This apron is going to get a lot of use!

Vintage Simplicity Jiffy Pattern strikes again

November 5, 2018

Earlier this year, all the children at my kids’ school took part in a history project.  Each year group was assigned a decade to learn about.  My son’s year learnt about the 1990s, and my daughter’s year learnt about the 1960s.  As part of the project, they had a day where they dressed up in the style of the decade.  I bought a Nirvana tshirt for my son, but for my daughter I had the perfect dress pattern in my stash – a Jiffy pattern from 1963.  I had used the pattern before to make my daughter a pirate dress (also for a school dress-up day!).

I bought some brightly patterned floral fabric and got to work.  The pattern, which is Jiffy 5291, is ever so easy to make up, as there is just one front piece cut on the fold, two back pieces, facings for the neck and armhole, and a centre back zip.  Simples!

I tried to do a beehive in her hair, with moderate success.  Here she is!

Luxury Pyjama Set

October 1, 2018

For my August/September Minerva project, I chose to make some pyjamas using the Closet Case Files Carolyn Pyjama pattern.  Usually I don’t bother making pyjama tops as I just wear the pyjama bottoms with whatever vest top or tshirt I have lying around, but this time I wanted to make a properly traditional pair of pyjamas that would be respectable in other people’s company for when going away with friends.


The fabric first caught my attention when Samantha from Crafternoon Project made an absolutely gorgeous dress with it.  It’s a great fabric and I am very pleased with how it looks made into pyjamas.


You can read my full post about this project on Minerva’s blog here.  They provided me with the pattern, fabric, piping cord, thread and buttons.

Dungaree Shorts!

September 11, 2018

Whoop!  At the expense of looking part-Minion, I made myself a pair of denim dungaree shorts as my July project for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network (but am only just getting around to blogging them!).  I made them just in time for my summer holidays, hurray!  The pattern I used is Burda 6599, and the pattern includes the option for dungaree trousers too, which would be great for autumn and winter.

You can read my thoughts on the dungarees and the materials I used on Minerva’s blogger network page here, where there are also some holiday photos 🙂

A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics by Wendy Ward – book review

July 10, 2018

Several months ago I was asked to be part of a promotional book tour for Wendy Ward’s new book ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics’, in conjunction with Minerva Crafts.  I was sent the book free of charge, and allowed to choose the fabric for a sewing pattern from the book, in exchange for a review blog post on Minerva’s website.

The garment I chose to make was the ‘Peak tshirt’, extended into a knee-length dress, with an elasticated waist, very much like the one pictured on the front cover of the book.  I chose some stripy metallic jersey from Minerva.

You can read the full review, and see more pictures, over on Minerva’s blog here.

Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress

July 3, 2018

I have made a fourth Cleo dungaree dress! My others are feeling a bit tight at the moment so I wanted a bigger version because I’m really missing being able to wear them. I had a remnant of dark green needlecord in my stash that I picked up for about £4 at a craft cafe in Hornsea last summer. I originally thought I’d make a Moss Skirt with it as it didn’t appear to be big enough for much else, but with a bit of fiddling I was able to squeeze out a Cleo. I had to use contrasting fabric for the facings, though. I also had some brown poly lining – no idea why or where it came from, but I used it to underline the front and back dress pieces. As a consequence, it is slinky on the inside and so doesn’t ride up on whatever I’m wearing underneath.

This time I chose to make the knee-length version of the dress with the split at the front. I like it but when I bend or crouch down the bit where the split stops is under quite a lot of strain. I did the securing stitches as directed by the pattern, but I do wonder if, over time, the stitching may give way. Time will tell!

I have worn the dress twice already, once with a t-shirt underneath and the next time with a shirt. With the shirt on, I know I look as if I’m size 1000, but I’m working on trying to accept my body, mainly because I love food too much to deprive myself at the moment, and I have a bad back so I don’t feel like running.

Although my red Cleo dress is still my favourite, I think this new one is my best in terms of quality of make – underlining it makes a big difference to how it ‘hangs’. I would definitely do this again on future dresses. I didn’t technically need the facings, but I liked to add then for increased stability, and also because they make the insides prettier!

Cleo pattern: I am not done with you yet. I definitely want to make a denim one at some point, and maybe another red one in the bigger size.

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