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The Light Party dress – B6332

October 20, 2019

Whilst lurking the creations of my fellow Minerva Makers, I discovered the range of Timeless Treasures panels that Minerva stock.  I felt immediately compelled to make a dress with one of these panels, and chose this beautiful tree design.  Who doesn’t love trees, right?  And really pretty colours to boot.  I knew that this design would make a really eye-catching dress.

Because of the high contrast design of the black silhouette of the tree with the bright, rainbow colours, I figured I could wear the dress to a Light Party I am organising at work.  I am a children’s and family worker at a church and this will be the second year I have organised this type of party.  Don’t get me wrong, I personally love Hallowe’en, but the Light Party is an alternative way to celebrate.  It takes place on All Saints Day, November 1st, and instead of being focused on scary and evil things, it celebrates the positive power of light, the triumph of good over evil, etc.  This year the kids are coming dressed as superheros, but I will be my own sewing superhero wearing this dress!

The pattern I chose – B6332 – was in my stash, and must have been free with a magazine as I don’t think I’d have ever bought it otherwise.  However, I’m extremely glad it was there, because it is just perfect for panels (and would be great for colour blocked dresses too).

I was a bit unsure about how the dress would fit and whether or not it would be a) flattering and b) comfortable.  In the past I’ve not always like wearing this style of dress because I feel self-conscious about my tummy ☹ With these thoughts in my mind, I erred on the side of caution and graded the pattern to a size 18 (it only went up to a 16).  In the end this was the right fit for my lower half but not at all for my upper body.  I kept on basting, trying on and pinning until I arrived at this:

The result is still a loose fit, but this is exactly what I want as it doesn’t cling and it is comfy for what will be a busy day at work.  I gave it a road test by wearing it to work the week I finished making it, and my colleagues gave me many compliments and I felt like I looked nice all day, which is certainly a good way to feel!

I used one panel for the front of the dress, and one for the back.  The back has a centre back zip and I did wonder about changing it to a side zip so that I wouldn’t spoil the panel with a seam through the middle of it, but as comfort was one of my main objectives, I kept the centre back zip.  I find that side zips have a habit of rubbing under your arm because there is lots of movement there.

The side panels are plain black cotton poplin.  The dress is fully lined as well, so when I wear it with tights there will be no need to worry about it riding up, and it hangs nicely.  I’m really pleased with it considering I never thought I’d actually use this pattern!

Thank you Minerva for providing the lovely fabrics and zip!

Threadcount ‘Ultimate’ tshirts!

September 16, 2019

I’ve had two pieces of stripy jersey in my stash for ages, just waiting to be made into tshirts to wear under dungarees and dungaree dresses, and finally, once the kids were back to school in September, I found the motivation to get cracking.  I used the ‘Ultimate Tshirts’ pattern from Threadcount, free with Love Sewing.

I made one of the tshirts short sleeved, and one with three quarter length sleeves, but both with a scoop neck.  They were so easy to make that I made them both the same day, which made me feel very accomplished and pleased with myself after a long spell of not doing much sewing.













There’s not much more to say really, other than I would definitely recommend the pattern, and please excuse my shoddy camera work!

The Freja Pinafore Dress

September 8, 2019

I’m a big fan of dungaree/pinafore dresses, and I’ve nearly always got another one in my head ‘needing’ to be made.  This time I took a break from the Cleo dungaree dress to try out the Freja dress instead, a pattern that came free with Simply Sewing magazine.  The denim I used is Lady McElroy stretch denim and it was a dream to sew with and really comfortable to wear!

Once I began making the dress, I got caught up in a whirlwind of excitement and wanted to get it finished asap.  Unfortunately this meant that I did not have any dungaree clips at the time, so I thought I’d do buttons for the straps instead.  Instead of sewing the straps into the bodice, I wanted more of a traditional pinafore vibe so I sewed the straps separately and then attached them by button at the end, but, shhhh!  The buttons are really only there for effect, as I ended up sewing the straps down!!!

I drafted my own hip pockets, inspired by a Boden pinafore dress I had seen in their catalogue.  I’m pleased with how the pockets turned out, they certainly look the part.  I also drafted my own curved patch pocket for the top bodice.  The more pockets, the better, in my opinion!  I opted for an exposed chunky metal zip at the back, and I really like it.  I could definitely have done with adjusting the fit at the back – as you can see it rides up and creates a big wrinkle.  It does bother me when I think about it (or see it), but most of the time when I’m wearing the dress I forget all about it, and generally I feel pretty awesome in the dress.

I would definitely make another of these dresses, but next time I’d lengthen the straps as they only just fit.  After a few wears, I moved the buttons on the back waistband in slightly more towards the centre, which gave an extra bit of ease in the length of the straps.

The only problem is – and I’m not sure it’s really a ‘problem’ – with this top underneath it I definitely feel like Mario!  I just need a huge moustache! 🙂

Unicorn dress

August 1, 2019

One of my daughter’s closest friends turned 9 at the end of July and to celebrate we all went camping together.  My daughter made her friend a birthday cake, and I made her a unicorn dress!  I had been hanging onto this fabric for ages.  I had originally planned to use it to make myself some pyjama bottoms, but when I decided to make a girl’s dress this seemed the obvious choice.  Plus, I knew it would co-ordinate nicely with the unicorn dress I made for my daughter last year sometime.

I used Burda 9379 for the pattern as it looked like it would be a simple make and it wouldn’t need lining.  The arm holes and neckline are bound with bias binding, which makes for a pretty finish as well as being easy to do.  I chose pink gingham and I love how it looks!

The birthday girl loved her dress and I was so pleased with the fit which I basically had to guess.  Here she is, in the tent, having just tried it on:

Doesn’t she look great?  And here’s a pic of her with my daughter wearing the unicorn dress I made her:

Awww.  They are so cute 🙂

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!

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