Grumpy cats

P8190404kitty v1395

Meh. You know when you make something that should be perfect on paper but you feel ambivalent or disappointed with the finished result? Sadly that’s the case with this dress. I mean, it’s a TNT pattern and cat print fabric! How did it go wrong?

kitty v1395

This is my fourth Vogue 1395 dress, and I really thought it’d be a quick win of a weekend sew. While I can roll all the multiple hems in my sleep now, I managed to make a catalogue of stupid mistakes while sewing this up. I ripped and sewed the shoulder seam a total of four times due to sewing it inside out – twice – and then realising the whole dress was pulling to the back, requiring an urgent forward shoulder adjustment, the first attempt at which I also sewed inside out. And please avert your eyes from the hem pulling up perilously at the front. I dunno what’s going on there.

kitty v1395

The whole balance just seems to be off, which I haven’t encountered on any of my other 1395s. Perhaps because this is quite a heavy creped polyester with a bit of crinkly stretch, so likely my cutting was inaccurate and the extra weight in the overlay is pulling the whole dress backwards. It just doesn’t feel too comfortable to wear unfortunately – it feels like it constantly needs adjusting and the obvious wrong side of the fabric keeps peeking out.

kitty v1395

Even the kitties don’t look impressed, do they. I’m crying that it didn’t work out as planned for such an awesome fabric (a Walthamstow market find).

kitty v1395

It might just be that this dress and I need to cool off a bit after a less than pleasant sewing experience. I’m going to stick it in the wardrobe for a bit and perhaps try pulling it out again come autumn to try with tights and boots – it might be more successful that way. Ah, sewing. Just goes to show that even when you think you know what you’re doing, something can come along to trip you up.

New Love Sewing… featuring yours truly


A bit of an announcement time for UK readers! So its very exciting to finally be able to talk about something I’ve known about for a while – that my lovely fellow blogger and pal Amy of Almond Rock is the new editor of one of the UK’s top sewing magazines, Love Sewing. Personally I’m super happy for Amy to get her teeth into this amazing new role, and selfishly I’m excited too because with Amy’s focus and knowledge of dressmaking I know the magazine’s in good hands going forward to cater to all levels of sewing experience and interests.


Amy took the time to answer a few questions ahead of her inaugural issue being out today, so here’s a chance to get to know the new editor a bit better.

What made you apply for the role of Editor?

I saw the link shared by The Sewing Directory and my heart leaped. I had been working in publishing for 8 years but this was my chance to combine my professional skills with my sewing passion. I don’t know how many of you have picked up Love Sewing, but it’s so colourful and joyous and has great contributors. I knew once I got in the door I could really make targeted change to improve the experience for everyone. And I’ve been working with my art editor to make some small design tweaks that we’re pretty chuffed about too.

Do you think the magazine can cater for sewists who have moved beyond the beginner level?

I’d love it if someone who doesn’t normally read Love Sewing picks up an issue and is impressed enough to buy again! The Simple Sew patterns we include as our free gift won’t always be massively challenging because we want them to be approachable to all skill levels but we want them to be great designs that people are drawn to wearing. I’m really excited about August as the pattern is a 2-in-1 for a cool cross back blouse and a great little jersey top. I want to mimic this inside the mag with as many varied (but achievable) dressmaking projects as possible without compromising on the home or accessories projects everyone loves. The September issue is jam packed with dressmaking content and going forward I am working with the fantastic columnists and feature writers to get thought-provoking articles, in-depth fitting tutorials and the best sewing advice around whether you’re a total newbie or a fully established sewer.

Any plans to give up your blog?

Hell no! I love that my blog is my own little territory for sharing my projects and chatting with the sewing community directly. Although my sewing time might be a little more squished these days by a longer commute I still have finished garments to share and projects in progress. No one wants a magazine full of my face heheh.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’ve got a shirt for my partner that is long overdue and a two shirtdresses for myself – think of all the buttons! There’s also a nearly complete Sutton blouse waiting for a hem. I’ve also got high hope to whip up a birthday dress for myself as I’ll be 31 at the weekend and would like a fancy frock to wear out to dinner. Hmmm that sounds a bit ambitious right? I love having multiple projects on the go and I’m happy that after 5 years of sewing I’ve gotten quite speedy at the machine when I put my mind to it.


Here’s the cover for the September issue, which is out today. And by the way – that stripy top on the cover was stitched up by me! I’ve been taking on a couple of commissions because I don’t actually need all that many more clothes for myself, but my desire to sew all the time is still very much alive. So it’s a nice way to keep me occupied, practice my skills, and earn a bit of cash – for more fabric, obviously.


It’s pretty sweet to see something I made professionally modelled and photographed! The crossover-back pattern comes free with the issue, and the candy stripe chambray is from Maud’s.


I also submitted some photos of my sewing room to their regular Sewing Room Sneak feature, and the article appears in this issue. Exciting times. Will you be picking up the new issue of Love Sewing?

Anima times two

Well hello. Bit of an unintended break there. I was sick for a week (sinusitis turns every little cold into a bed-bound week of hell), then had a trip away with work.


Two quite lovely sewing-related things have happened since I last posted – as well as some real sewing, below. First, I had an email (and a tweet from Jen!) to let me know that my lil’ space here has been nominated for a Bloglovin’ 2015 Award. I don’t know if the nominations were reader-voted or internally decided, but either way I can’t help but be extremely flattered and a bit proud. I know awards are always subjective and ultimately don’t mean much, but it’s a lovely boost to be recognised by a platform I use every day. If you’d like to see the other nominees and cast a vote, you can do so here.

Secondly, on that work trip we all had to give a short talk on what we’re passionate about. Guess what I picked, ha ha. Some of my colleagues already knew I sew what I wear nearly every day but some didn’t, and I had such a lovely reaction of admiration and support… plus about ten commission requests and the idea that I should start a ‘sewing for my colleagues’ blog series – we’ll see about that! Anyway it was really nice to share a big part of who I am and get a warm reception, and to find a few more sewing fans to have stitchy conversations with. (Hello if you’re reading!)

Anima pants

Right, on to some actual sewing. So I recently bought the Papercut Anima pants pattern as a PDF. I know, it’s pretty similar to the True Bias Hudsons and I try to reuse patterns rather than buy similar ones, but what made me buy Anima in particular was the faux fly front, which I’d never been able to wrap my head around how to construct.

Anima pants

They’re a quick and simple sew, a gentle single session type of project. The PDF was a manageable printout at around 25 pages and went together easily. I generally sew an S in Papercut but cut the M for these because I’m larger around the hips and wanted them loose. I think the S would’ve given me a closer fit more like the pattern photos – good to know I can just print it off again to try the smaller size sometime.

Anima pants

I sewed them per the instructions with no fit adjustments, except omitting the cuffs and just hemming the legs – I liked the ankle length finish and was hoping to go for a sort of soft tailoring look rather than full-on sweatpant. I’ve just rolled up the cuff a bit here for a peek of the slightly contrast inside.

French terry

The fabric’s a mega lovely French terry kindly sent to me by the newly opened UK arm of online knit fabric specialists Girl Charlee. I’d ordered from the U.S. Girl Charlee site before so was really pleased to see they moved to our shores too – no worries of getting stung by high postage and customs charges. Founder Mark Creasy let me pick a couple of fabrics to try, and this is the modal blend French terry . Ummm, I love this fabric. It’s insanely soft and has beautiful drape. I think it definitely helps these pants to look a cut above sportswear or loungewear – I had the Anima in mind when I ordered it and it was definitely perfect for this project. It comes in Sandalwood brown as well as this Deep Forest shade and it’s just £6.95/m. i’ll definitely be getting some more come the colder weather.

Anima pants

Given the loose fit I reckoned they would work as is in a woven fabric, so I cut a second pair pretty quickly in this gorgeous viscose I got in Chester’s Abakhan store.

Anima pants

I’ve been living in these since I finished them to be honest. They seem to go with all my plain tops (this is another Aster hack in linen) and are so comfortable – great for cycling and nice and light and breezy. I didn’t need to make any fit changes to make them work in a woven. Perhaps if you picked a snugger size you’d want to size up one to make sure they drape well.

Anima pants

I omitted the topstitching and drawstring this time for a smoother waistband. I’d love to try hacking around to make a flat-front waistband sometime too. Nice to have another TNT everyday pattern in the stash!

Ad Astra per Aster


I seem to be incapable of sewing up a pattern as written these days. I often find myself removing design elements, merging pieces, using the same techniques and finishes over again. It’s a win-win really because these less complex garments are quicker to sew, and simple silhouettes are inevitably the ones I reach for to wear the most regularly as well. 

That’s my way of explaining that this is a sort-of-not really take on Colette Patterns’ Aster blouse. I was a bit surprised that this pattern didn’t really take off in blogland that much – I’ve only seen Marilla and Jaime‘s out there. Personally I love it and I’m glad that Colette seems to be moving away from a slightly cutesy/fussy vintage aesthetic into more basic wearable pieces.


As patterned this blouse has cuffed sleeves and a yoked back with gathers. I merged the back and yoke pieces into one, removing the gathers, and added cut-on cap sleeves in a similar fashion to my Alder hack here. Finally, I ditched the little straight edge at the top of the button placket because I couldn’t get it looking sharp and not like a mistake. Basically took the pattern from having 5 or 6 separate pieces to just two, ha ha.


This is only the second Colette pattern I’ve made – the Peony was one of my very early projects and was a full-on disaster, so I did approach this with trepidation. But happily my fit issues with Aster were all minor. I just had to raise the bust dart apex about an inch and pinch a small dart out of the neckline – that’s all. Despite my design changes I think some of the Aster’s detailing is retained like the pretty curved hem, shaped side seams and elegant neckline. I do need to do a little more work around the neckline, I think – perhaps a forward shoulder adjustment and to make the v-neck’s edges slightly more concave as they appear to bow outwards.


The fabric for this make was kindly supplied by Alice Caroline. I’m sure they’re on your radar already if you’re a Liberty lover like me. As well as selling a large range of Liberty prints by the yard, they specialise in pairing designs and colours together to form special bundles and kits to use for patchwork and quilting. Check out their site or Etsy store to browse the range. This top is made from Kevin tana lawn which I’ve mad my eye on for ages – I love the dusty colours, and like my super happy manga Holly, it’s one of those prints where you only see the lovely constellation details from up close. Thanks, Alice Caroline, for enabling a lovely staple summer top. Anyone else got plans to sew an Aster?

Triple culottes

Vintage culottes

Apparently I only make things in threes now, ha ha. This weekend I busted out three pairs of culottes – all the same pattern but plenty of variation in fabric and detail.

Vintage culottes

This is a vintage pattern that I bought a while ago, I think on Etsy or eBay. It’s from 1984, the year before I was born! Obviously I was mainly drawn to the kicky button-down options, and I finally dug it out after getting culotte envy both from the sewing community and the high street. Some in-print culotte options: Itch to Stitch, Style ArcBurda.

Vintage culottes Vintage culottes

I made this wearable toile first, from a mysterious peachskin/suedette from Myfabrics. I bought it with a voucher and it wasn’t quite what I was expecting – less drapey and quite thick and er, quite bright orange! This is view A of the pattern, which has buttons down the centre front of one of the legs, and halfway between the short and long length options included with each view. I was really happy with the fit with no adjusting – I must have a vintage-style figure because I rarely need to alter old patterns much at all – and they came together really quickly. But to be honest I don’t know if I’d ever be brave enough to wear them – orange suedette mega-shorts make quite a statement. Maybe if I switched out the buttons for some tonal ones? And handed out sunglasses?

Vintage culottes Vintage culottes

Second go, in a really lovely lightweight linen cotton from Minerva Crafts. This is a mash up of views B and C from the pattern – view B’s front pleats and C’s fly front (but I used my own method to do the fly). These are delicious – SO comfortable and way more instantly wearable for me.

Vintage culottesVintage culottes This third pair is my favourite – view B again, with added slash side pockets and a centre back invisible zip instead of the fly. This is an ex-Whistles viscose which you might recognise from a previous make. I liked it so much I bought more during a recent sewcialist trip to Walthamstow (I think Fiona and Portia nabbed some too so look out for it cropping up, heh). It’s amazing to wear but a bit shifty when cutting – it was an effort to get those rows of scribbly dots nicely lined up all around.

Vintage culottes Vintage culottes

Each view was super fast to sew up – like 90 minutes, tops. I typically don’t make many projects with fixed waistband and zips because in my head it seems really time-consuming, but it clearly isn’t really. I’d really like to find some nice drapey solid fabrics (crepe? Sandwashed silk? Any other ideas?) to make more of these because I think I’ll want to wear them all the time.  Cool, comfortable and cycle-friendly – what’s not to love?

1395 the third in Nani Iro

Nani Iro V1395

Here’s that third take on Vogue 1395 that I mentioned last time, fresh off the hand-sewing needle! As you can probably tell if you’re a fabric dork like me, this one is made in a super gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze.

Nani Iro V1395

I bought the fabric from Purl Soho in NYC. This pattern is called Spectacle; a sort of very abstracted painterly print of fields, bushes and clouds. It’s utterly beautiful – some of the white is thickly laid on to give it texture and there’s even some metallic mixed up in there. Cutting it out was a bit nerve-wracking, mostly because I only got 2yds and it’s quite narrow, so I really had to squish the pieces on a bit.

Nani Iro V1395

Nani Iro V1395

The print placement is quite lovely on the front but I had to make a seam up the back and it’s not quite so pleasing.

Nani Iro V1395

As I mentioned before, during the cutting stage I merged together the bodice and skirt at the waist seam and cut both the front and back as single pieces. I found on both my previous versions of this dress that the wraparound overlay doesn’t necessarily want to sit exactly over where I placed the waistline seam, so removing it completely means the tie can naturally find the right place to sit on my waist. You then can’t catch the centre bottom edge of the overlay into the waist seam at the back, so it’s hanging completely loose and only joined at the shoulders. I definitely didn’t do any photo outtakes where I flew around like Superman with a cape. Nope.

Nani Iro V1395

I treated the lovely fabric to a bit of rare hand-stitching: catch-stitching to secure the neck bias facing in place and to roll-hem the armholes and skirt hem. My patience didn’t extend to hand-rolling the entire overlay edge – that’s serged, folded back twice and topstitched as I did before. (Not purely laziness by the way, I also figured machine stitching is more secure for the area of the dress that gets stretched and knotted.) Making single fold bias binding is a bit of a nightmare with double gauze, by the way – I had a wobbly, distorted mess with the layers trying to separate themselves and frayed edges all over. But I did enjoy the catch-stitching because you can only pick up the inside layer of the gauze so it’s totally invisible from the outside. Mmm, satisfying.

Nani Iro V1395

I still don’t feel like I’ve got this dress out of my system – there’s 3 or 4 more fabrics in my stash I think it’d be amazing in. By the way, it is Minerva Crafts’ pattern of the week which means it’s 50% off right now… I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re tempted to make their own now, and I can only encourage you.