Floral Viscose Harper Blouse

floral harper blouseHere I am – back on the blog! I’ve had a bit of time off from sewing recently due to ‘life’ happening, so I’m happy to be back with you today for a new post. Today I’ve got a lovely, Spring-appropriate blouse to show you.

The pattern I used for this is called the ‘Harper Blouse’ and I downloaded it in PDF format from a lovely website called Spit up & Stilettos. Unfortunately, the website no longer exists – the company have changed their name to Sadi & Sam and only offer patterns for children these days – but I’m sure if you emailed the lovely Lauren and ask nicely she’ll be happy to send you the Harper blouse download!

The blouse is a tunic length (it just covers the hips) and features bias binding around the armholes, a waist tie (I used ribbon) and a very on-trend Mandarin collar, much like the new Tilly and the Buttons Martha dress. The only adjustment I made was to the neckline opening, where I added a hook and eye to stop it gaping and so I don’t have to wear a vest top underneath.

harper blouse mandarin collar

This is just one of a very small number of times that I’ve actually used a PDF pattern and, I have to say, it was easier than I remember. Last time I tried a PDF I had a nightmare trying to match up and stick the paper pieces together and vowed never to use them again! I’m glad I’ve put that behind me.

harper blouse

The fabric I used for my blouse is a blue and white viscose that I found on eBay from everyone’s favourite seller, thefabricman. The seller has so many different fabrics at such good prices that it’s hard not to buy more than you need! I just got 1 metre for my blouse and it cost me an astonishing £2.98. You couldn’t even buy a blouse for that price in Primark. The listing actually describes the fabric as ‘grey and blue gothic flowers’ but I think that description is up for debate! My blouse is definitely inky blue and off-white, and I’d say those flowers were much more feminine than gothic…

Anyhow, this blouse was a pleasure to make and I think it looks perfect for the upcoming sunshine. Do you like it?


Blogger Network #22 – A Kitty Cat Baby Dress! McCall’s 7308

mccalls 7308 baby dress

Hello everyone! It’s been all quiet on the sewing front for a little while as I’ve been pretty caught up in decorating our new kitchen – we’ve painted the walls, replaced the worktops and now I’m onto the final bit of cabinet painting (Annie Sloane’s chalk paint is the best, I recommend it). Once that’s complete the sewing production line should be back up and running and the blog posts can resume…

For now – here’s my latest Minerva Crafts Blogger Network make – a cat print dress for a toddler! In January this year two of my dear friends had their first baby so I thought I’d use the opportunity to make something teeny tiny and in a really fun print that I wouldn’t normally get to use. I picked the McCall’s ‘tent dress’ pattern as it looks a nice easy shape for a wriggly toddler to wear whilst also having plenty of details (pockets, a zipper and a bow) that make it more unique.

Head over to the Minerva blog right here to read more about my make 🙂 In the meantime, stay tuned for more grown-up size dresses coming soon!


Sewing in 2015 – a Year in Review!

As we approach the end of 2015 it’s time for a little blog round-up. Let’s take a look back at all the projects I’ve made this year! I do like seeing everything all together:

2015 year in review collage

There are 27 finished projects right there! That averages at just over 2 a month and, with 17 dressmaking projects and 10 craft projects, I’d say I’ve found a nice balance this year. And this list doesn’t even include those items that I haven’t blogged about. I think my Top 5 have to be my first By Hand London Elisalex dress, my chambray shirt, my patchwork sewing machine cover, my needlework tote bag and my Christmas Megan dress – do you agree? Which are your favourite projects that you’ve seen on my blog this year? I’d love to know!

But how did I shape up against my new year plans – the ones that I made this time last year? Let’s take a look. Last December I told myself in 2015 I would:

  • Hand-make all birthday gifts and Christmas presents – this started off so well and then went downhill around early summertime. I think I lasted until around June and then had to resort to buying presents again due to getting ready to move house! You can either count yourself lucky or unlucky if your birthday was pre-June, depending on how you want to look at it 😉
  • Make more use of my fabric stash – hmm, not sure I managed this one. I’ve made a couple of projects with existing fabric (my Bleuet dressMimi blouse and Christmas Megan) but it’s so hard resisting temptation… I did try though!
  • Buy less fabric – this relates to the point above, and whilst I haven’t actually bought that much new fabric this year I have acquired a lot outside of my stash – mostly thanks to the Minerva Blogger Network! Who am I to turn down a ready supply of fabric each month?!
  • Make more use of the patterns I’ve got – I’ve definitely tried hard with this one and have relied heavily on Love at First Stitch this year (thanks Tilly for this book, I love it so much! 🙂 ), but there’s still room for improvement. I did have a de-clutter and got rid of all the paper patterns I don’t use though!
  • Finish all WIPs – this has to be my biggest success of the year I think – I actually reached the end of my sewing to-do list, yippee! At the start of the year I wrote down all of my plans and kept adding to it as and when. Once a project was completed, I crossed it off the list! It really helped me to keep track of what needed doing and stopped me from picking up too many new projects without finishing the old ones first. I recommend it!
  • Complete my fairisle jumper – OK I need to be honest with you on this one…my Grandma finished this for me because it was starting to drive me a bit mad. The stitches were so small and there were so many and it sat in the corner for ages unfinished. There, said it. :/ Thank you though, Grandma, you’re the best!
  • Not take up any new crafts – I think I succeeded on this too! I still want to learn to crochet mind…

So that’s it! A whole year of blogging, sewing and crafting condensed into one blog post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading what I’ve been up to and I look forward to sharing more bits and bobs in 2016. Link me to your own review posts if you’ve got one, too!

Tartan Reindeer Megan Dress

tilly and the buttons christmas tartan megan dressWhen this post goes up it’ll be exactly four weeks until Christmas – just where has this year gone to? It’s also my first wedding anniversary this weekend which I cannot believe either. Time has raced past like Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. But never mind that – onto the sewing!

This week I’ve made myself the ultimate Christmas Day outfit in the form of a reindeer print Megan dress from the Tilly and the Buttons Love at First Stitch Book. I’ve made this pattern a couple of times before – a baroque linen Megan dress here and a summer seersucker Megan here – and I really do like it. There are flattering darts on the front and back skirt as well as the bodice, little cap sleeves and a long zip down the back. I also know that I can cut my fabric straight from the pattern pieces and it’ll fit me perfectly! No other pattern company seems to cater for my measurements as accurately as Tilly does. Even the length of her dresses are perfect (normally I have to hack at least 5 inches off the bottom of everything!).

reindeer tartan megan dress love at first stitch

The fabric for my Christmas dress came from the Remnant House in Harrogate. I think I bought 2m of it and I’ve used nearly all of it for this dress. It’s a tartan cotton with embroidered reindeers and hearts all over it and I love it. It’s so festive and cutesy and will make my Scottish mother-in-law very happy! Unfortunately they don’t seem to stock this particular fabric on their website any more but here are a few festive alternatives:

love at first stitch megan dress

If you see me out and about in my reindeer dress this Christmas please can you compliment me on my pattern matching? Aside from a teeny misaligned stripe on the back I couldn’t have got this cut out more precisely! I love how the tartan stripes match up so well on my side seams and how they run straight down the middle from top to bottom. This was quite an easy fabric to pattern match due to all the straight lines in the tartan but it does always impress me when I get it right!

tilly and the buttons tartan megan

Have you made a dress for Christmas this year? Is it as festive as mine or have you gone more glitzy? Show me! I also recommend adding Tilly’s book, Love at First Stitch, to your Christmas wish list if you don’t already own it. I’m sure Father Christmas would be more than  happy to deliver it to you 🙂

Sew Your Own Advent Calendar

advent calendar sewingJust a quick sewing project for you today – a DIY Advent calendar! As a child we used to have a big, fabric advent calendar with little pockets that my mum used to hang on the wall each December. She’d fill the pockets with three sweets – one each for me and my two sisters – and it was such an exciting time. I loved reaching into those numbered fabric pockets and seeing what Advent treat had been put there for the corresponding day!

As a slight homage to my mum’s version – and because I now have my own house – I’ve made my own version and hand-sewn what I hope will become a family heirloom (maybe). And it couldn’t have been easier!

The Advent calendar is made using one of those quilting panels that you can pick up in most fabric shops. The panel features instructions printed at the top, 25 numbered squares printed below and the backing fabric to which you attach the pockets. I think I got my Advent panel from eBay for about £7 but I’ve seen them around the internet at Elephant in My Handbag, and Etsy amongst others.

patchwork advent calendar kit

The calendar is actually quilted, so you sew a layer of wadding in between two layers of fabric. The pockets are then sewn directly onto your padded backing, creating a quilted effect. It’s a very simple project to make but looks really effective when it’s finished. The worst thing about it was having to press all the pockets! All four edges needed to be folded under and ironed before they were stitched down so it’s a very hot job to do!

hand sewn adent calendar

What do you think of my finished Advent calendar? I really love it. The illustrations of the little woodland animals on the pockets are so sweet and I love the Christmas-sy colours! Now I just need to plan which sweets and treats to put in it come December!

Yarndale 2015! A few photos…

yarndale bus 2015This weekend saw the 3rd annual Yarndale festival in Skipton, North Yorkshire, and my lovely, lovely friend treated me to a ticket! Lucky me! Back in 2013 we both went to the first ever Yarndale (see my review for that here) and enjoyed it so much that we were determined to return again. I mean, could you resist a festival described as ‘celebrating all things woolly and wonderful’? I’d like to see you try. Here are a few (a lot of) photos from our day (plus bonus points if you can spot my new giant knitting needles, Lucy from Attic24, an Angora rabbit and a felt duck pond!):

yarndale buntingyarndale wall of flowersyarndale christmas craftsyarndale 2015 animalsalpacas and angoras at yarndale 2015yarndale giant knitting

Simplicity 1699 Fit n’ Flare Floral Dress

simplicity 1699 dressI made another flowery dress! This time using the lovely Simplicity 1699 – one I’d originally planned to use for a different fabric, but when I saw this lovely print at White Tree Fabrics I just knew it was a match made in heaven. Let’s take a closer look.

This fabric is a ‘chirimen’ – which I have literally never heard of before. It’s a bit like a polyester/crepe/silk type fabric which, after a bit of Googling, apparently originates in Japan. I found this fab floral print version at White Tree Fabrics just hanging around their cotton prints section, despite it definitely not being made of cotton! However it’s only £6.50/metre and with my discount code (SEWSENSATIONAL) you can get a whopping 20% off and free delivery. You can basically buy enough of this fabric to make a dress for £10 which is incredible.

simplicity 1699 dress sleeves

Anyway, the fabric is described as ‘cream, green and raspberry’ which I think is pretty true to form, although I would also add ‘sunshine yellow and cornflower blue’ to that mix as well. It’s absolutely ideal for a summer holiday because it’s so pretty and floaty and lightweight (though it can also be a bit static so a skirt lining is recommended if you have the ability!)

This floaty-ness does make it a little difficult to cut out accurately too – I suggest using a rotary cutter if you have one or else just use lots and lots of pins like I did. It’s quite easy to end up with pattern pieces of different sizes if you’re not careful, which I think is why the waist of my dress ended up a bit tinier than planned. I’m not sure I’ll be eating much cake in this dress…

simplicity 1699

The pattern itself is really nice though, it has cute little raglan sleeves, princess seams down the bust and a long zipper up the back. I’ve only ever heard the phrase ‘fit n flare’ in regards to wedding dresses on Say Yes to the Dress so it was nice to finally see that style up close! And I have to say I rather like it. The ‘fit’ is around your middle and then the skirt ‘flares’ out below, making it super swishy.

simplicity 1699 back skirt

What do you think? Sorry again for the lack of good photos too – we’re in the midst of moving house and I can’t seem to find time nor space to take proper pics… it also may have something to do with the fact that I still need to alter the zip as I was a bit generous with my seam allowances and could do with claiming an extra inch back before I wear this out in the wild…