Blogger Network #30 – Monochrome Megan Nielsen Sudley Dress


Hello everyone! It’s time for my first Minerva Blogger Network post of the year, and this month I’ve made the Megan Nielsen Sudley dress in a lovely black and white floral viscose. One of my sewing resolutions for 2017 was to be a bit more mindful and intentional with my sewing projects, so I’m aiming to focus on garments that I’ll wear often and/or that match other items I own. With that in mind, click the link below to read more about my make!

Read more about my Sudley dress on the Minerva Crafts blog here!

Blogger Network #16 – A Needlework Tote Bag

embroidered tote bagHappy July! With a new month comes a new Minerva Crafts Blogger Network post – and this time I’ve taken on embroidery in the form of a needlework tote bag. This is a great make for the sunny weather we’ve been having, I can see myself using it on holiday or on trips to the beach this summer. In fact, it’s the perfect size for a book, some sun cream and bottle of wine!

Everything you need to make the bag comes in this Design Works kit and the only prep work involved is cutting up the canvas. It’s a great project if you don’t have a lot of time to sit down and sew. I actually completed most of it in front of the TV! The bag is made up of 34 squares of plastic canvas which you embroider with the Aran yarn provided. There are 3 square designs to alternate between. You know those sewing cards you used to get when you were little – cardboard pictures with a shoelace to thread through? It reminded me of those!

aran needlework tote bag

Once you’ve stitched all 34, you then assemble the squares in a random pattern and stitch them all together into one big piece. Next, you attach the felt lining and fold it into a bag shape, stitching all the sides closed with the yarn. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is! You also get a lovely set of bamboo handles included in the kit which you just have to sew onto the sides of the bag once you’ve assembled it.

wooden tote handles

If you’re looking for a sewing project to take on holiday with you, to stitch by the pool or sat in the garden, then I really recommend this kit. It’s a great pick-up-and-put-down project and one that kids (or husbands) can definitely get involved with too. Have you ever made anything like this before?

DIY Wooden Wedding Cake Toppers

diy wedding cake toppersTime for another wedding craft project! With my wedding fast approaching (2 sleeps to go!) I thought I’d share with you another snippet of the crafty bits and pieces I’ve been getting up to in preparation for the Big Day. It’s also the last post you’ll see from me for a little while whilst I take a well-earned break with my handsome new husband. So, for now, here are my delightful DIY cake toppers!

The wooden figures I used for my cake toppers came from the lovely Goose Grease shop on Etsy – they have so many wooden figures to choose from; you can get whole families, couples and even pets! There’s the choice to go DIY or they’ll customise them for you. I picked the plain man and woman figures and then bought some acrylic paints so I could personalise them myself to look like me and Chris.

The instructions recommend that you start by painting the face and the hair, then the clothes and then paint on the fine detail using a cocktail stick. I also used some strong Hobbycraft glue to attach a scrap of lace for my veil, a piece of red fabric for Chris’ tie and some little roses (from the wedding invites) for the bouquet and buttonhole!

wooden wedding cake toppersThey were such fun to make and I really do recommend it if you’ve got an event coming up in the near future. I had to do about 3 coats of paint to get the strong colours but, aside from that, they really took no time at all. Now, anyone for a slice of cake?

Simplicity 1663 Layered Chiffon Maxi Skirt

simplicity 1663 maxi skirt‘Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’14, if I could offer you only one tip for the future, avoiding chiffon would be it’  – Baz Luhrmann.

Alright, so that’s not quite the actual lyric, but it really should be! Chiffon is not your friend. Or at least it’s not mine! This sewing pattern, provided to me by Simplicity, looks absolutely ideal from the envelope – I chose it because I love double-layered, floaty maxi skirts that I can wear in summer without having to get my milk-bottle legs out and I also spotted this lovely printed chiffon at Minvera Crafts that looked perfect for the job. Or so I thought!

The Simplicity 1663 pattern comes with a few different options for mini skirts, trousers and this maxi skirt (view C) that I chose to make. The mini skirt underneath is made of a navy blue linen and then I used the patterned chiffon for the maxi skirt overlay, which is made up of 4 long panels of material. There are literally 2 pattern pieces for this skirt, so the cutting out and sewing together parts are super easy – it’s just the floaty fabric choice that isn’t!

simplicity 1663 long maxi skirt

A few tips for working with chiffon:

  • Avoid it in the first place if it all possible!
  • Use a rotary cutter and cutting mat to cut around your pattern template – this stops the fabric from sliding about or stretching as it would if you tried to cut it with scissors (trust me on this one!).
  • Move slowly. No moving quickly around your cutting table as this generates gusts of air which will blow your lovingly pinned chiffon out of position and onto the floor (trust me on this one too).
  • Go very slowly when sewing. As in, stitch-by-stitch slowly.
  • Pins are definitely your friend, and lots of them!
  • Set your sewing machine dial to the ‘very thin fabric’ setting so your stitch tension is right for the super thin chiffon.

simplicity new look 1663 skirt

(Here’s a picture of the linen mini skirt underneath!)

Anyhow, despite the battles with my fabric choice, I actually love how this skirt has turned out. As you probably know by now, I’m always one for testing out new skills and I’m not afraid to give anything a try! If it goes wrong then it just won’t end up on here, haha.

This really is a great pattern and it’s absolutely perfect for the summer months. The waist is elasticated too so it doesn’t matter if you eat a bit too much ice cream whilst on holiday! Have you ever worked with chiffon before? How did you find it?

Blogger Network #5 – Betty Draper Gingham Blouse

burda 6924 gingham blouseJust recently, and perhaps a bit late to the game, my fiancé and I have spent night after night after night watching back-to-back episodes of Mad Men. I’d already seen the first couple of seasons a few years ago but, aside from lusting over the outfits, had got a bit lost with it – until now! I’ve always kept an eye on the Julia Bobbin Mad Men Challenges that keep appearing over the internet (if you’ve not seen them, be sure to check out the entries, they’re incredible) and thought that it was about time I had a go myself – but on a smaller scale!

So, for this month’s Minerva Blogger Network post, I decided to have a go at making a Betty Draper inspired blouse. Does anyone remember the little yellow gingham number that Betty’s been seen to wear in various episodes during seasons 2 and 3?

betty draper gingham blouse burda 6924

If you want to sew along with me then you can get hold of the blouse pattern here and the yellow gingham fabric here. They’re both super cheap too!

The blouse I made uses the Burda 6924 sewing pattern for a knotted tie blouse. I chose to make view A, which is the version without sleeves, to make it look more like Betty’s! And this is the first time I’ve ever sewn a collar, so I was a little hesitant and I had to get very friendly with my seam ripper (don’t look at me like that, we’ve all been there).

betty draper yellow gingham blouse burda 6924

The finished blouse is actually a lot better than I had imagined! When you’re constantly unpicking and re-stitching your work, you often give up a little, but half-heartedly yet gallantly continue to sew anyway. And I’m so glad I did. My finished gingham blouse fits perfectly and is definitely something I’ll wear on holiday or on a sunny weekend. Check out my marvellously squinty pictures too – it’s definitely a garment that looks best in bright sunshine!

Satin Pyjamas for White Tree Fabrics + 20% off code!

v7837 satin pyjamas for white tree fabricsHave you heard of White Tree Fabrics? They’re a brand new fabric and haberdashery website specialising in satins, laces and other luxurious fabrics. When they asked me if I wanted to be on-board with their blogger project, I have to admit that I hesitated. I’ve never sewn with satin, lace, silk, net, crepe or any of the other marvellous fabrics that they sell. What on earth was I going to make? And then I remembered my mantra: ‘try it and see’. And that’s just what I did with this project – a satin pyjama set! (I’d also like to apologise for the lack of photos of me in my pyjamas but, come on, nobody needs to see that…)

vogue 7837 satin pyjamas for white tree fabricsThe pattern I used for my pyjamas is the Vogue V7837 and is the same one that the lovely Simon used on the series 2 of the Great British Sewing Bee for the silk nightgown he made (click here for a reminder!). I chose to make view D, which is the shorts and cropped camisole top, with a lace trim and a bow at the back. What could be easier than that?!

My fabric choice is a lovely, cornflower-blue duchess satin, which you can find on the White Tree Fabrics website here for just short of £9/metre. And now here’s the amazing part – you can get 20% off and FREE DELIVERY using my unique discount code! That brings this fabric down to £7/metre which is just a bit silly to miss out on to be honest.

The code for your 20% discount and free delivery is: SEWSENSATIONAL

The pattern itself was easy enough to follow but there are are an awful lot of skills involved, ie sewing a channel, inserting elastic, attaching lace, mitring the lace at the points, neck and arm binding…nothing that I’ve not done before but definitely something that it’s worth taking your time over. The satin is quite thick too and, although lovely to sew with, can get quite bulky when sewing seams and binding, so make sure you do lots of clipping!

vogue 7837 pyjama top and shorts

What do you think to my finished summer satin PJs? They fit and feel comfy to wear but I’m not sure I’ll get around to wearing them very frequently… they’re a bit different from my usual cotton 2-pieces!

Liberty Sunglasses Cases

liberty sunglasses caseAfter returning from the Minerva Crafts blogger meet-up weekend not that long ago, I was desperately tired but desperate to sew, and this Liberty print sunglasses case project seemed like just the perfect thing to make. Two of my closest friends had birthdays just recently too and were in need of a present that I could post to each of them – luckily a well-timed Tweet from Liberty Lifestyle was all it took for me to decide that this was what I was going to make!

liberty sunglasses caseAnd I am definitely making more of these – they were such a delight to sew.

The fabric I used to make the cases is a Liberty lawn that came in a patchwork bundle my mum got me for my birthday last year. Each piece in the bundle is a long strip, about 10″ wide, and so I keep dipping into it for small sewing projects like this one every now and then. My lining fabric is just a blue cotton I had in my stash, as were the buttons and the gold elastic used for the closure.

liberty sunglasses case and patternTo make the case, you need to line each of your pieces with interfacing and attach a layer of thin wadding to the lining so that it’s nice and squishy and will protect your sunglasses from scratches whilst they’re in there. The pattern also calls for box corners – something that I’ve never done before – so I’m glad to have now learnt that skill! If you need help with box corners, try this handy guide that I used myself.

Now that they’re finished and posted off to their recipients I think it’s time to make another one for myself – especially now that I’ve seen all the fingerprints on my glasses in these pictures!

Blogger Network #4 – Mystery Party Dress!

For our June Minerva Blogger Network projects, me and the rest of the Minerva network team were given a fairly exciting brief: make an outfit to wear to a celebration but keep it secret! We were allowed to choose any pattern, any fabric and any notions that we liked on the premise that we don’t tell a soul until the weekend of June 14th when we all attend the Minerva Crafts Meet-Up (are you coming? tell me you’re coming!).

So, for my June post, all I can share with you is a few photos of what might be…. (is that Liberty lawn I can see?)…. for the completed project you’ll have to hang on a couple of weeks for the Big Reveal. I can’t wait to show you – this is possibly my most amazing sewing project to date!


Oh and don’t forget to enter my Simplicity Sewing Book giveaway if you live in the UK and haven’t already taken part! I’m accepting entries until Friday 6th June so you’ve still got time!

Bridesmaids’ Personalised Coat-Hangers!

monogrammed bridesmaid coat hangersI honestly think that Pinterest may by the be-all and end-all for wedding inspiration. Whilst Pinning away on my (secret) wedding board, I came across this great idea for personalised coat hangers for bridesmaids, and knew that it was just too good to miss.

I’ve chosen three lovely ladies to be my bridesmaids this November – my younger sisters Emma and Charlotte and my young cousin Lauren. They’re all petite and blonde and beautiful and I can’t wait to dress them up in their pretty red dresses!

And the best thing is that this personalised wedding project is really very simple. All you need is some wooden coat hangers, a thin paintbrush and some acrylic paints (mine were a bargain on eBay and were perfect for the job!)

personalised coat hangers

Now I just wish that I’d made one for myself. Perhaps I can use the leftover paint to personalise every hanger in my wardrobe at home?! I could give all my dresses names, or paint each hanger with different flowers…. alright, now I’m getting carried away 😉 what do you reckon?

Handmade Wedding Invitations

handmade wedding invitationsToday’s post takes a step away from my usual goings-on and instead focusses on my wedding invitations! I’ve spent hours and hours (and hours) making them for all my lovely guests and even got featured in the latest issue 71 of PaperCrafter magazine – yay! I’ll definitely be tearing out that page for my wedding scrapbook (see image below for the feature and check out their website here!).

Anyone who has made their own invitations before will know that it can be a very lengthy process. My day-time invites have a lot of components to them, too, so it took even longer. Save the dates, handwritten menus and RSVP cards, anyone? However, I do love the finished result…. even if a few of them do look a little more ‘handmade’ than I was aiming for…

my handmade alice in wonderland wedding invitations

Our colour theme is red and white – partly because our wedding is near to Christmas and partly because it just looks nice – so I used those colours as a base for my invites. I also chose to introduce a subtle ‘Alice in Wonderland’ theme, as both my fiancé and I both love the book and the animation, and it fits in perfectly with the red and white. Notice how I’ve used playing cards for my RSVPs and for the design on the front?

Papercrafter issue 71, wedding invites

The materials I used to make my invitations all came from independent sellers on eBay, Amazon and my own lifelong personal stash – who knew you could collect so much ribbon over the years?! They probably cost me a fifth of what the price would’ve been should I have had them made professionally. I love how making invitations yourself means that you can come up with a totally unique design, too!

So what do you think? Have you ever made wedding invites for yourself or someone else? I have a few more wedding-themed blog posts lined up too so keep an eye out for more handmade wedding ideas 🙂