Category Archives: Review

Silk Dove


Katie in pale colour shocker! Seriously, all of my 2016 makes have been embarrassingly samey dark shades. My black overlocker spools even ran out, so that was a good kick to embrace the light side. I may also be in seasonal denial, as summer ends and we head into my least favourite time of year, by making a silk sleeveless blouse…


This is the Dove blouse, the new pattern from Megan Nielsen, which she kindly sent me a pre-release of to try out. It’s a very pretty semi-fitted top with a host of yummy design details like French bust darts, chunky topstitched facings for the V-neck and curvy hem, and a slew of sleeve options, from slim elbow-length to fabulous full-on bell.


Being me and unable to leave a good pattern alone, I eschewed all the sleeve options, instead adding little rectangular caps and finishing the rest of the armsyce with bias facing. I’ve come to realise that any woven garment with a set-in sleeve rarely gets reached for in my wardrobe unless the drafting is 100% spot-on, plus I’m always overly warm rather than cold so it isn’t actually all that seaosnally-inappropriate. I’ll do a tutorial for the hack if anyone’s interested.




As usual from Megan’s patterns, the instructions are clear and well-illustrated, and the drafting is just a delight – this was so pleasurable to sew and all came together in a few hours. I cut a Large, which is bigger than my measurements but I like a lot of ease in woven tops. It still fits really nicely around the neck and shoulders, though it dips a bit too long in the back for my preference – I’ll take some length out next time.


I think the fabric makes this top feel rather special. It’s undyed silk noil from The Organic Textile Company; a bargain at £8.95 a metre. This is probably my number-one fabric both to work with and to wear yet I’ve only used it once before. It’s pretty hard to find in any colours or prints but this raw slubby cream is rather beautiful, albeit out of my usual palette comfort zone. (It does take dye well however, so I’m going to buy more to self-colour.) Some up-close inside shots to show the texture and finishing:

Self-bias faced armholes and the faced, topstitched neckline.

The hem facing and centre-front seam.

French-seamed shoulder seam and French bust dart in the background, the ‘legs’ of which are cut out, so raw edges are overlocked after it’s sewn together.


The rather directional design details, not to mention the colour, feel a little ‘out there’ for my usual/current style, but I do love it and expect it will get lots of wear. It looks so good with denim (Safran jeans here) and the relaxed shape and dream fabric make it super comfy. Here’s hoping I don’t spill coffee/wine/spaghetti down it too soon… perhaps the real reason I usually stick to dark colours.

Thanks again to Megan for sending me the Dove pattern to try! You can pick it up for 20% off until Friday using the code HELLODOVE.


Sudley dress

Megan Nielsen kindly sent me along one of her recent patterns, the Sudley dress, to try out. It was just the thing I needed at a time when my sewing time and motivation has been quite low: easy-peasy, fast, no fitting – from machine to body in a morning.

Sudley dress

It’s essentially a loose smock dress, but there are are a ton of options included in the pattern to make it very versatile. You can make an empire or drop waist dress or a blouse, with an optional peter pan collar and ties on the keyhole opening. Also it’s reversible so you can wear the keyhole in the front or back!

Sudley dress

I think it’s more ‘me’ the other way around, but I’d like to try this way with the collar attached. The bodice is self-lined making a neat finish on the neckline edge. The instructions include a full clean finish inside with the armsyce edges handstitched down, but I got lazy and overlocked them as one piece.

Sudley dress

I cut size small but with the bodice length of the biggest size, as empire line isn’t the best look on me. I ended up tapering in the waist a bit, mainly because I didn’t have enough fabric to do the skirt as patterned so just gathered up my fabric width. The fabric is a viscose from Walthamstow – either the Textile Centre or Man Outside Sainsburys, I can’t remember.

Sudley dress

This is a great little instant gratification project that’s a very useful wardrobe builder. It’s good with tights or without and is the kind of thing that’s so easy to pull on for work and be instantly dressed. Pretty sure I’ll be picking it up to use again – the blouse option will make a great woven tee basic. Thanks Megan for sending along the Sudley pattern!

Memphis Moneta

Sprout Moneta

I’m back at work full-time these days for the first time in years, and despite having grand plans, it is taking its toll on my sewing productivity. I’ve been less willing to take on more ‘serious’, involved projects and drawn more to fun and fast sewing that I can work on in an hour or two in the evenings. Enter Sprout Patterns! As you may have heard, they’re an offshoot of Spoonflower who print pattern pieces directly onto fabric yardage, meaning no prep required – just cut and sew. Caroline at Sprout contacted me to review the offering, so after spending way, way too long going through a million options of fabric and pattern, I settled on the Colette Moneta dress in this incredible Memphis inspired print.


With several indie pattern brands signed up, coupled with the entire Spoonflower library of prints, there’s an awful lot of scope for playing designer on Sprout. You can see a shortlist of my favourited prints here, and I’ve already dipped back in for more orders. I especially like that as you’re designing your project you can see a 3D preview and move around the print placement to your liking. My order took a little over a month to arrive from the US but that’s atypically long; I think it got holed up in customs somewhere. Shrinkage value is factored in so I threw the fabric into a delicates prewash and let it air dry before getting sewing.

Sprout Moneta

Here’s what the pieces look like – a thick white border makes it foolproof to see where to cut and each piece is labelled here too.

In the interest of sewing science, I timed exactly how long it took me to do each stage of the construction.
– Cutting the pieces with my rotary cutter: Seven minutes
– Main overlocker construction (incl a couple of baste-and-try-on sessions): 32 minutes
– Finishing (hemming sleeves and skirt): 12 minutes
So that’s a dress fresh from prewash to finished in well under an hour!

Sprout Moneta
Sprout Moneta

One clear issue with Sprout for some is that obviously that you can’t do flat pattern alterations, as the pieces are already printed onto the fabric. Hence why I picked a knit project as they’re much more forgiving in the fit department. Fortunately the Moneta dress in straight size M fitted great, which was honestly quite a surprise – I was prepared to hack around with seam allowances if needed. I’ll probably make more Monetas sometime as I really like the shape – a Sprout bonus is that you get the full PDF pattern included with your order.

Sprout Moneta

Even given the prescriptiveness of a cut and sew pattern I did make a couple of tiny style alterations. One was to add a band to the neckline rather than turn and hem it – I don’t think turn and hem is a good solution for knit necklines, no matter what Colette thinks. There was plenty of spare printed fabric around the pattern pieces to cut a neckband from. I also left off the pockets because they seem useless and bulky in a knit, making things even faster. Finally I turned back the sleeve hems to the reverse white side for a touch of contrast.

Sprout Moneta
Sprout Moneta

Overall I’m pleased with the quality and handle of the fabric – my first experience of a Spoonflower knit. This is the Modern Jersey substrate, a poly/spandex knit, which is medium weight, drapey, nice and soft, and easy to sew both on machine and overlocker. The print is sharp and vibrant, though not quite as saturated as I was expecting from the screen swatch. If i was being picky it does seem to show a bit of the white backing colour through where it’s under stress at the seamlines (see above), and I’m interested to see how it holds up with repeated washings, but so far so good.

Sprout Moneta

Overall, it’s certainly a thumbs up from me on Sprout. I love my crazy cosmic 80s finished dress and it was such a lovely fast and stress-free project – exactly what’s needed sometimes. I’ve placed a second order for some Grainline Lark tees for me and my sister already in some equally excellent prints – watch this space.

Here are some final pros and cons of the service to consider before making your own Sprout order:
Why’s it great?
– Serious corner-cutter for the time-poor and/or lazy (of which I’m both)
– Endless possibilities of amazing prints and patterns
– If you pick a TNT pattern or if the pattern is easy to adjust as you sew there’s few worries about fitting. Also for kids’ clothing or accessories, where fit isn’t much of an issue, it makes total sense.
– Good value, considering you get all the fabric you need plus the reusable pattern included.
The drawbacks:
– You can’t make significant pattern alterations or grade between sizes. I wouldn’t be able to buy most woven dress designs as I’d need to make considerable flat alterations before cutting my fabric.
– On complex patterns you’ll still need to transfer dart and other markings.
– Shipping to the UK is around $30 and you may get stung with a customs charge too (though I didn’t) so it could work out expensive for non-Americans. I used a free shipping deal for my Lark order and there’s a discount code below!

Sprout Moneta

If you fancy a go with Sprout yourself, there’s 20% off all Moneta dress orders in March with code MONETAMADNESS! Thanks very much to Sprout for providing the order to me for review.

The ultimate day dress?

Day dress

The fairly new pattern company The Avid Seamstress sent me their Day Dress pattern to review a little while ago. It formed part of my winter sew plans and I actually finished this a little while ago, but finally got some time at home in daylight to take some photos. You can probably tell from my face that I am pretty happy with it!

Day dress

Firstly, it’s in my preferred format of paper patterns. The packaging is really pretty and all top quality materials – a nice bellows envelope with string tie (making it easier to pack away), sturdy waxed pattern tissue, and an extremely comprehensive instructions booklet. It’d be a perfect pattern for beginners because the instructions are very clearly illustrated and also give you the all-important ‘why’ on each step, something that’s so often missed and is key for understanding exactly why certain techniques are important and how they can be applied to other patterns.

Day dress

Secondly, the fit and drafting is muy bueno. This is a straight size 3 pretty much out of the packet, and I would barely change anything at all. That’s partly down to fortune of their design block being similar to my body type I guess, but also small thoughtful design decisions like a well-sloped shoulder, a nice jewel neckline and good proportions all over. It’s got front bust and waist darts and back waist darts too.

Day dress

I especially like the sleeves, which fit 1:1 (no need for easing stitches around the cap, hurrah) and have a little curve in the hem for flattery and comfort. And it’s a rare pattern that works great in quilting weight cotton – this is a Robert Kaufman one I picked up in Purl NYC last year.

Day dress
Day dress

The one design tweak I made was to scoop out the back into a v shape just to give a bit of interest. I drafted a new facing piece to match. Yes, I used a facing for once, and I like it! By some force of magic it doesn’t want to flip to the outside at all. There’s an invisible zip to fasten down the centre back.


So overall, got say this pattern is a real hit for me. The design elements are basic overall sure, but anyone who’d like a well-fitting basic dress block could do worse than picking this up – it’s clearly ripe for hacks and design mods and it definitely won’t be the last time I pick it up. I think it fits me better than my actual dress block!. I think it’d be especially good for beginners too given the good directions and simple construction. The Day Dress pattern quite pricey as patterns go at £17, but the luxe edge of the packaging and top-notch drafting does make it feel worth the money to me. Thanks very much to The Avid Seamstress for sending it along to me.

Handmade labels from Nominette

Handmade labels recently asked me to try out their online custom label-making tool for a review, and having put them through their paces I am happy to share. Making labels for my makes has been on my to-do list for ages, and I love how these turned out.

Handmade labels

I did my design in Illustrator, keeping it fairly neutral and non-personal to suit a lot of different garment types. I couldn’t resist picking spangly metallic bronze to sit on top of my charcoal grey background, though.

Handmade labels

The site was easy to use – I like how you get some fun options, like to pick your fold type and optionally add text or laundry care logos, but it’s not one of those tools that takes forever with a million options to calibrate. I just uploaded my logo, picked my colours, checked the preview and sent it off. They arrived from Belgium within a few days – they come like this, in one long ribbon wrapped around a board with markers for where to cut.

Handmade labels

The quality is great and they don’t scratch at all, even with the metallic – they are made from taffeta so are smooth and comfortable. Really easy to sew in (when I remember to, that is!) and great for giving an extra little I-made-it boost to my garments. In fact having lovely labels somehow makes me even more focussed on picking projects with longevity and wearability in mind and taking care over the finish so they ‘deserve’ their label.

Handmade labels

As you can see, they’re going into all my recent makes (some of these yet to be finished and blogged!) and particularly suit my preferred bias-faced neckline edging – I just slip it underneath when topstitching the binding down. You can check out some other reviews of Nominette by Melissa, Manju and Winnie, and order your own here.