There's nothing quite like the promise of a ball to get you reaching for the fanciest fabric and pattern in sight. Or, if you're like me, to fill you with sheer panic and indecision. Despite buying my ticket to The Dressmakers Ball months ago, I couldn't for the life of me settle on an idea until the weekend before the bash.

My bountiful stash just wasn't inspiring me, partly because I don't have super fancy taste so nothing seemed appropriate. With the pressure of being on the awards panel mounting up, I was on the verge of giving up when I remembered the luxurious velvet I bought from Fabric Godmother about 18 months ago.




As someone whose usual motto is 'more is more', black monochrome was not the obvious choice for me. However, the velvet's textured stripe effect, substantial weight and delicious drape give it a really expensive air (I mean, it wasn't cheap, but you know what I mean). 

To achieve the look I was going for, I paired it with the Jennifer Lauren Gable top, which has a chic 1950s-inspired slash neckline. I shortened the top to hit at my natural waistline, tapered it in slightly and added clear elastic to the bottom before attaching the full skirt from the Pauline Alice Aldaia dress. The Aldaia skirt comes up quite short, so I added about 13cm to the length for a more formal vibe.

I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. I felt ridiculously elegant swishing around in it on the night, which was quite impressive given that I've basically made secret pyjamas disguised as a dress. Better still, I can genuinely see myself wearing it for so many other occasions. 



The biggest thing going for this dress though? It matches my handsome mini rex rabbit called Opie. Well, it's not quite as lush as him, but it's close! Now I have two dresses that match each of my rabbits - remember my original Aldaia in the grey colourway which perfectly complements Birdie rabbit? If #DressLikeYourPet or #MatchYourPet aren't a thing, they should be. Who's in?



Finally, a MASSIVE 'thank you' to Freya and Sarah from Crafty Sew & So for hosting such a wonderful night, in Leicester no less! I never fail to be impressed by how far stitchers will travel to meet up with each other and by how talented, beautiful and funny they are.

Happy birthday to me! The greatest gift I've given myself this year is finishing and photographing this dress - 1950s Simplicity 3931 - because it makes me feel like a vintage vixen!




It's hard to believe that I started making it about a year and a half ago! I had to grade the pattern up by an inch or two, so the muslin stage took a bit longer than I anticipated. By the time I had nailed the fit it was time to pack up my sewing room for a very long and disruptive period of house renovations. After that, it took me ages to get my sewjo back - it's still only fleeting - but I'm so glad I finished it. The pairing with this drapey linen from Walthamstow Market - the man outside Sainsbury's (TMOS), to be precise - is so dreamy. 

Sadly, with so much time passing, I can't really remember the exact alterations I made to the original pattern. I have the new pieces, so not all is lost, but I imagine I took the shoulders in a bit, shortened the bodice a touch and added some centimetres to the centre front and side seams. I also skipped the sleeve ties for a less fussy look, but might give them a go next time as they're pretty sweet and all the rage on the latest indie patterns I've seen.

One thing I do remember is how quickly and easily this pattern came together. The instructions are actually really good for its age and the construction is fairly simple. If you can get your grubby hands on a copy, I thoroughly recommend adding Simplicity 3931 to your collection.





As with most vintage patterns in my stash, what attracted me to this one were the gorgeous details. I can't get enough of the shoulder and front skirt pleats - they give such romantic shaping to the bodice and make the skirt just full enough. I'm particularly taken by the clever little elbow darts to shape the sleeves and, I assume, give them more flexibility of movement.

For a more streamlined look, the front bodice and both skirt pieces could be cut on the fold, as the zip is inserted in the side. I squeezed this out of just two metres of fabric, so cutting on the fold wasn't really an option for me. My biggest challenge was the front bodice pattern placement as I had very little fabric to play with and didn't want to end up with bronze areolas! It was touch and go for a while, but I managed it in the end...phew!



I'm now ready for afternoon tea please...anyone care to join me?

Lately, I've been on a bit of a Tilly and the Buttons bender. But who can blame me?

I'm mean, I know I'm literally last to the Coco party, but I've been living my best mod life since making myself the top version in this dog-tooth ponte from WeaverDee.




I was actually one of the pattern's testers way back in 2014 when I made this Coco Dress version. Although it looks super cute in the pictures, as a dress it's not very flattering on me due to the lack of waist shaping. I never wore it and donated it to my mum shortly afterwards.

It's a shame as it's a cracking pattern, but it's an even bigger shame that it took me so long to give the top version a go!

Even though I'm not a massive fan of high necklines, the funnel roll neck on this version is not at all restrictive and has a wonderfully retro feel. Coco definitely works better for me as a top, with the subtle side seam shaping accommodating my muffin tops/hips without completely hiding my waist. 


Ironically, making this 1960s-inspired number feels like I've finally joined the 21st century sewing community.

I know you've made Coco...the question is, how many?


Sometimes, there's nothing more satisfying than a speedy make and the Nora Top from Tilly and the Buttons is just the ticket! It's taken our sewing community by storm, with so many amazing versions out there already.

These last few weeks I've been beavering away on a couple of involved makes for Charlotte, but I get antsy when I don't have a selfish project on the go, so this quick and easy make was a good way to stay sane.




There's really not a lot to say as the pattern is such a breeze to follow. I sized down due the boxy/relaxed fit and the only change I made was to slightly shorten the sleeves, which are purposefully extra long. Also, I'm not a fan of how high necks feel, so I opted for the narrow neckband instead. For the hem, I went for cropped and stepped with side seams.

My fabric is a medium-weight knit from a stall on Leicester Market and it cost a whopping £1 per metre. I was hoping for a wearable muslin and ended up with a sweater I love. 


Nora lends itself to SO many different variations that I can see why so many fellow stitchers have become addicted. I certainly see more in my future.

Have you fallen for Nora?

It's been a hot minute since I blogged, but I'm back with a hacked Seren Dress!

As soon as this Tilly and the Buttons pattern was released in the summer I fell in love, especially with the flounce version. But big boobs and flounces don't mix, right? For better or for worse, fuelled by a friend's late September wedding, I ploughed ahead and I'm so happy with the result!




My hack was inspired by a RTW dress and I paired my vision with this perfectly autumnal viscose from Stoff & Stil - it's so feminine and buttery soft. It was also a dream to sew and press.

So, let's start with the obvious changes I made. For the streamlined look I was lusting after, I cut the front pieces on the fold and eliminated the buttons, inserting an invisible zip at the back instead. I also took out the waistband and lengthened the bodice slightly to compensate. 

Finally, I added a few inches to the length of the flounce as I wanted it longer at the back to hide my muffin tops and back fat. Not only did it work, I'm also convinced that the longer length at the front is the main reason this looks ok with my fuller bust.



Before tweaking the design though, there were some fitting issues I had to address. I cut a straight size five, but needed to lower the bust darts and shorten the straps. I also had to get rid of some underarm gaping, which meant taking a wedge out of the flounce too. Once I was happier with the overall fit, I went ahead with the hacking.



Much like my Kew Dress, Seren made me feel like a million dollars at the wedding I attended. I'm already looking forward to making a couple of summer versions, one with buttons and one with the tie waist.

You'll also notice that I'm wearing exactly the same shoes and jewellery as I did with my Kew Dress. I'm not much of an accessories person (though I do LOVE shoes), so the easiest thing seems to be to make dresses that match what I have. Is this madness? Does anybody else do this?

Friends, I'm humbled to be part of The Refashioners 2018 epic line-up. This year, Portia has opened the challenge right up - absolutely any garment goes, as long as you start with an image that inspires you!

With that in mind, you're probably wondering why the heck I've played it so safe!?! Well, aside from not being a particularly gifted refashioner, my initial plan kinda went to pot. 

I was hoping to make a patchwork Megan Nielsen Karri Dress, using the many unloved pairs of jeans I've been holding onto for years. I was really excited about this idea, until I realised that none of the jeans I owned were wide enough for the skirt pieces. 

A trek to my local charity shops revealed that I would need to buy quite a few jeans/denim items to be able to carry this off, which really got me thinking about waste. It seemed like I would be buying items just for the sake of it, when I already have plenty of me-mades in need of some TLC. So, I decided to hold onto my jeans until the right project comes along and hatched another plan.

 

I turned my attention to the By Hand London Kim Dress I made four years ago, using the loveliest Liberty London cotton lawn. Even though it was pretty, I'd never worn it because it was a little too revealing in the bust area, plus I'm not a fan of light-coloured dresses on me. 

Wasting such beautiful fabric made me uneasy though, so this was the push I needed to do something about it. I googled 'Liberty fabric blouses' which led me to this divine image from Pompom magazine and the Stevie Tunic pattern by Tilly and the Buttons immediately sprung to mind! 



Having already made two Stevie tops that I love, this was the perfect pattern to ensure that my Liberty lawn got the second chance it deserved. I chopped the skirt off my Kim Dress and...the rest is history. For this version I opted for the ties at the back and added cuffs too. The purple contrasting fabric was in my destash pile, so I'm glad I found a use for it. 

Was the original dress cuter? Possibly. Will I get lots of wear out of this? Definitely!




If you've got this far, thanks for sticking with me! Once again, Portia's challenge is super inspiring, so make sure you stay updated with the latest here

It's also proven again that when it comes to refashioning, I'm definitely a harverster instead of a reworker. This means that I'm not great at reimagining garments and pretty much only see them as fabric I can use for something else. Elisalex of By Hand London has written an interesting article about these two different approaches in this month's Love Sewing magazine!

Are there any more harvesters out there?