Emerald ball gown

I had a ball to go to, and none of the dresses I had quite fit the bill – I needed a floor length satiny number!
I found Simplicity 2442 and picked out an emerald duchesse satin from Fabric Land.


The bodice took a bit of time to come together, as it was ruched and lined as well as interfaced.


I liked the top of the sleeves and the neckline for this dress. I was planning on doing a lot of dancing at the ball, so I needed something that would stay in place!



The bodice was ruched by hand, and finished by hand. I had to be very precise and neat with my hand stitching – not my strongest point!


The midsection was ruched by thread pulling, another thing I hadn’t done before, it took a few minutes to get it even, but I was happy with it in the end.


Once the bodice was in place, I pinned the skirt up to see how it looked!


Here it is at the ball! The zip was a bit tricky to get in as the ruched waist was so thick, and I did have to tack the bottom of the V in the neckline so I wasn’t showing too much flesh when I leant over!
And of course Mike had a pocket square, bowtie and cufflinks to match – he even cut his own bowtie out!



Mum’s pajama bottoms

For my mum’s birthday in November, I decided to make her a pair of pajama bottoms. I chose a green and white polkadot cotton.

The pattern I followed was Margot from Tilly Walnes (from

Tilly and the Buttons

) book Love at First Stitch. It was a lovely pattern to follow:


I added a pocket – as suggested by Tilly in the adaptations part of her book. I also decided to add a ribbon binding around the edge too!


Tilly’s pattern asked for a ribbon drawstring, but I didn’t gave quite enough of the lovely blue polkadot ribbon, so I sewed two bits of the ribbon to the inside of the drawstring channel, and put in some elastic too.


Having ribbon edged the pocket, I ribbon edged the drawstring channel and bottom of the legs too.


It all started hanging together quite nicely!


I also got to use the custom ribbon from The Ribbon Printers that I’m planning to use instead of labels. This looped over the waistband.


And here is my mum in them!!



Bow tie, pocket square, cufflinks project

I still had some scraps of silk left over.

I decided to make my lovely long – suffering boyfriend a bow tie, pocket square and cufflinks for my Dad’s wedding too.


The pocket square was really easy. I used a square of paper as a pattern, then rolled and stitched the sides. I reinforced the corners too.

I found a bowtie pattern on Tie a Tie – it was really easy to follow! The hardest bit I found was turning the tie back round the right way – in the end I used a knitting needle (the blunter the better!)

The cufflinks were a bit different. I went into my local craft shop – Creative Crafts in Winchester – and they supplied me with metal cufflink backs and resin. I cut tiny squares of silk, and covered them with layers of resin (12 in total).

Here he is wearing all three – looking very dapper!!


Apologies for the lack of piccies on this one, I had to make them in secret so I could present them to him on the day!

Matching bag

I had some scraps of silk left over from the dress and skirt, and some lining left over from the skirt, so I decided to make a handbag to match, for when I wore the dress to to my Dad’s wedding.


I just kind of made it up as I went along, making sure there was room for the essentials! I bought a clasp from C & Fabrics and cut the fabric to size.


I sewed a half pouch in both fabrics, and rolled the seams in, then stitched them up.


Next,  I handstiched the clasp onto the pouch, and made a strap out of more silk scraps.


I was careful to make sure the fabric stopped the clasp opening too far, so as to not lose items in the bag when I opened it!


There is the finished product! I am rather happy with that – and it worked really well at my Dad’s wedding!


Navy Skirt

I had some navy fabric left over from the dress that I made.

I have been reading a great book by Tilly Walnes called Love at First Stitch.  Tilly takes you through the basics of dressmaking,and has included several patterns to play with.

So I began by drawing and cutting out my pattern on to greaseproof paper (complete with duct tape as it wasn’t wide enough). Tilly talks a lot about grading between sizes, say if your waist is in one size bracket, and your hips are in another (as mine are). This was the first time I altered a pattern to fit me!

I had just enough fabric for the skirt pieces (phew) as you can see:

Once it was all cut out, interfaced and pressed, the pattern was remarkably quick to come together.

I had to learn a new skill for this skirt – invisible zips! Firstly I had to buy these feet for my sewing machine, which was interesting. My sewing machine is a 1904 Singer, but luckily it works with all short shank screw feet!

Tilly’s book explains inserting invisible zips really well. The main tip is to take it slow, and don’t be afraid to unpick if it doesn’t look right. Also, thorough pressing of seams beforehand helps!


I decided to change the pattern slightly and insert a lining. I found a lovely silky maroon “lining fabric” in my local fabric shop. Using the steps on one of Tilly’s blog posts I cut my lining fabric and stitched the lining up. I also decided to sew a secret ribbon trim on the inside of the waistband. I did this by sewing the ribbon to the inside waistband before I sewed it into the skirt.

Finally, the skirt was ready to wear. It actually didn’t take too long to make, and I’m really pleased with the result. I did lengthen Tilly’s pattern by 5cm, as I have reasonably long thighs, and I wanted to be able to wear this to the office.


New make – navy dress!

So, I decided to give dressmaking a go.

2014-07-24 22.00.48I selected the pattern above from McCalls “easy” range – M6530.  My plan was to make it for a special occasion that I had coming up, so it had to be fairly easy to put together.

Problem number one – the sizes didn’t seem to *work* – according to the measurements on the pattern, I was a size UK20….which I am not!  After some frantic Googling, I found that a few people were perplexed in this way too.  The general advice was to go ahead with the size you normally wear – for me, a UK12.

2014-08-02 18.57.14I gathered my dressmaking materials – I selected a hand loomed navy blue silk dupion, which I bought through Silk Home UK

Feeling very nervous, I cut out the pattern, pinned it to the beautiful fabric, and made my first cut!

2014-08-02 22.19.31For the next few days, this dress became my life.  I read articles and blogs online, and quickly learned some important points.

2014-08-03 16.11.46I bought a new iron.  This iron was to replace my very old beaten up iron, and I vowed to press every single seam to perfection with it.  Time to start sewing!

2014-08-18 23.03.23

Pretty soon, things were starting to take shape.  I started to construct the bodice with my tools – a 1904 Singer handed down from my great grandfather, and a 1920’s dressmakers dummy picked up at Winchester Vintage and Retro market.

2014-08-15 13.57.28I started to learn about techniques such as basting:

2014-08-18 19.07.01The bodice was finally taking shape!

2014-08-16 01.15.44I learned all about interfacing, and how it works to hold the shape of the fabric.  For this pattern, interfacing is used on the neckline and waistline.  I used woven medium weight fusible interfacing, after advice from the lovely Claire of ontrendfabrics.

2014-08-17 23.29.13Here is the interfaced waistband on the bodice!  I had to learn about gathering around the bust too.  I got very excited about the next step, and had to see vaguely what it was going to look like…

2014-08-18 00.00.16I pinned the skirt, in it’s pinned, pre-pressed state onto the dummy so I could vaguely see what it was going to look like.

2014-08-18 00.03.04Once the skirt was pressed and basted, it looked a little better!  I was so close, and so excited by this point, I stayed up rather late to get the skirt in place.  After quick insertion of a zip, it was nearly ready to go!  As a finishing touch (in the guest room before the event I’d been making it for) I added some buttons to the front.

2014-08-23 22.42.29Overall, I was very pleased with the result.  I decided not to add sleeves, as I’m not a huge fan of sleeves!  I love how the skirt holds itself out, but doesn’t feel like it’s about to blow up and expose you to the world.  Next time, I’m planning on giving an extra inch to the waist for dancing room – it fits snugly at the moment, but I think if I ever had a serious dancing moment, it may be a little restrictive.  I’d also make it a little longer next time, so then I could wear it into work without having to worry about it riding up when I sit down.

I’m very glad it was so quick to put together, and glad that I managed to make it in time for this event to celebrate my wonderful grandparents.


A busy summer so far…

So, I’ve been out enjoying the hot weather for the last few weeks, and have not been able to bear knitting anything woolly!

I went to a knitting group two weeks ago, and all we did was sit and drink lemonade and discuss how little knitting we were doing because of the heat. A little pointless, but still good fun!

The blanket is now fully knitted, though it is so big and warm now, I’m going to have to wait for some cooler weather to weave in the ends and start using it. It ended up a little bigger than a double duvet, and the colours just merge and ripple in beautiful ways, especially on the outer edges where the colourways don’t pool as much.

So my current project ( which is progressing very slowly in this heat!) is top secret, as it is a present for someone who follows this blog. They know they are going to receive something, but they don’t know what it is…but there will be pictures when the time comes!

I’m also debating switching disciplines temporarily and turning to sewing to make something for a friend – it’s pretty daunting though, as I haven’t done any proper sewing for about ten years!