Do you like surprises? Then you'll love Sew Hayley Jane's subscription boxes

If you don't already know, the idea is delightfully simple: each month you can sign up to receive a themed package of fabrics and haberdashery items handpicked by Hayley herself. What you end up making with your goodies probably depends on what size package you go for, as fabric lengths vary.

There are three options to choose from, which you can set up a regular subscription to or just order when you feel like treating yourself.

£20 Mini Box: 1m of fabric, 3 fat quarters and a selection of haberdashery items

£35 Medium Box: 2.5m of dressmaking fabric, 4 fat quarters and a selection of haberdashery items

£65 Luxury Box: 3.5m of luxury dressmaking fabric, 5 fat quarters, an indie sewing pattern 

What you can see pictured is October's medium box, kindly sent to me by Hayley to review. It was super exciting to receive it in the post and a real pleasure to unwrap its beautifully packaged contents!

This month's Autumn Bliss theme was nailed by Hayley with a wonderfully warm colour palette. As a dressmaker rather than a crafter, I was most excited by the 2.5m of fabric, which is a moody floral cotton blend with a medium weight and nice drape. 

This concept is ideal for the adventurous stitchers among you. The boxes are fun to receive, look lovely and are filled with nice quality products. It would also make a very thoughtful Christmas, Birthday or Valentine's Day gift for a special someone...or for yourself of course!

Adding to the sense of excitement is one of my favourite features of Sew Hayley Jane's website...the rather helpful countdown clock!

Personally though, I don't think I would subscribe to monthly boxes, as I'm not daring enough with my cash. If I'm spending money on sewing supplies, I need to know I'm going to definitely like and use them, as I'm quite particular in my fabric and sewing pattern taste.

One thing that would maybe sway me is if boxes were differentiated between dressmaking and crafting. As lovely as fat quarters are for example, I don't have much use for them, so I'd rather have more dressmaking fabric or an indie sewing pattern instead.

However, if you have a sense of adventure, then I think Sew Hayley Jane's fun offering is perfect for you!

So, I finally put my money where my mouth is by making Charlotte something other than pyjama bottoms! Firstly, can I just extend my condolences to all you tall girls out there? Before I lived with one, I never quite appreciated how limited the RTW tall ranges are and how hard it is to find clothes that are both stylish and affordable. You ethereal creatures deserve so much more! 

Anyway, Charlotte is still working on building a robust wardrobe for herself and like most girls she is discovering her fair share of gaps. One such gap is slightly smarter items that she can wear to work meetings, so she asked if I could make her a skirt. Like me, she's not a huge fan of densely-gathered waistlines, but does like a fuller shape. 

As I don't really do skirts myself, I turned to my plentiful dress patterns and By Hand London's Flora Dress seemed to be just the ticket! The dramatic pleats maintain a streamlined waist adding volume exactly where Charlotte wants it, and drafting a waistband was nice and easy.

This little project was a rude reminder of how little ease By Hand London patterns have. It's a good thing of course, because the sizes really are true to the finished measurements, but it would have helped me had I remembered this. 

As a result the skirt was a little tight at first, so I unpicked the waistband and let the front pleats out a bit. I guess I got overzealous because the skirt ended up just a smidge too loose in the end, but I really couldn't face unpicking it again. The good news is that Charlotte prefers wearing her skirts / dresses belted, so this is still wearable...woohoo!

Even though Charlotte was after a smart skirt, she still wanted it to be cute with a subtle print. She chose a beautifully textured jacquard from Minerva Crafts, which is sadly no longer in stock.

In a moment of pure giddiness following my semi-success I may have offered to make a dress for her birthday in November. I hope I don't live to regret my generosity, because sewing for someone with such different proportions to your own is a real challenge!

Do you do much selfless sewing? I'd say mine is done begrudgingly - it's rewarding, but with precious little time I hate loosing sight of my own priorities.

During what seems like a lifetime ago (January), we visited Seoul in South Korea. Although we were there for medical reasons, I did manage to sneak off for a few hours to the rather epic Dongdaemun fabric and craft market!

I'm not sure words or pictures can do Dongdaemun justice, but I'll give it a go. Picture a sprawling market/mall spanning seven floors and four 'dongs'/sections (A, B, C and D). Just think about that for a minute...let the sheer magnitude sink in!

Ok, have you composed yourself yet? 

This crafty heaven is overspilling with fabrics (literally all kinds) and more haberdashery items/notions than you ever knew existed. Frankly, it's overwhelming...but an absolute must if you're ever visiting Seoul.

I was dumbstruck by it all (the jet-lag didn't help) and ended up wandering around aimlessly for a couple of hours (getting very lost). I finally walked away with the three pieces of delicious rayon pictured at the top of this post, but I was particularly impressed by the gorgeous selection of jersey and knit much choice!

What really struck me is how meticulously tidy all the stalls are, despite their volume of stock. Many of them only hold samples and will place your order with their warehouse for you to collect within an hour or so. Here's a blog on how to buy fabric in Dongdaemun that I found useful, with a handy map and directions to boot.

I'm so glad I took on the advice here and arrived early (9:30am) on a week day, missing the crowds. You can imagine just how uncomfortably cramped the narrow aisles get at peak times!

Check out this blog for more information and pictures. Also, a MASSIVE shout out to Meg The Grand who took time to email me tips and advice based on her experiences in Seoul...I owe you one!

Have you been to Dongdaemun market? What did you make of it?

Two things of note: I don't normally 'do' cream/white or similarly light-coloured dresses and I've steered clear of polka dots since my rather cartoonish take on vintage back in 2013. For these reasons my second version of Tilly and the Buttons' Martha Dress shouldn't work for me, but it's really rocking my world!

I already waxed lyrical about Martha when I blogged about my first version and I'm fairly certain that she may well be my pattern soulmate. I love the silhouette of the princess seamed bodice with the swishy skirt, and by omitting the overtly 60s/70s accents like the mandarin collar and big sleeves, I've found a go-to shape that works well for both work and play. The retro accents are great by the way, I personally just find the dress more wearable without them.

Just like my first Martha, this one is also made from a medium-weight knit. I bought it on Goldhawk Road last year after falling in love with its waffle texture, but I really can't remember the name of the you look up the street with the tube station behind you, it's one of the very first ones on the left hand side of the road.

Once again, despite working with jersey, I wanted my dress to keep its shape and look structured, so I reinforced the waist with a hardy ribbon and didn't skip the centre back zip. Like before I cut out a straight size 4 and hemmed the skirt at the mini length, which on my petite frame is the right amount of modest.

The only thing that bugs me about my first version is the neckline. I finished it with a facing (which the pattern calls for as it's designed for woven fabrics) which I then top-stitched, resulting in a slightly wavy finish due to the ponte's thickness. Vowing to avoid that issue this time, I followed a reader's advice to under-stitch the facing instead. Sadly, the result was the same so I ended up unpicking the entire facing and simply turning the neckline seam allowance under and top-stitching...which worked a treat! 

I first wore this at a wedding a couple of weekends ago and it seriously felt like cheating. Even though I felt cute and put together, I was so ruddy was just like wearing the pyjama equivalent of a dress! I could have added a belt for some extra glamour, but it was hot and I was like 'meh'!

As an aside, do you wear or blog your makes first? I have this OCD thing going on where I prefer to blog my makes before their first outing when they're still looking as pristine as possible, but that wasn't the case this time. There was a mixed reaction when I raised this on Instagram, but Rachel of House of Pinheiro made the excellent point that by blogging after wearing you can give a better review of how the garment fares in the real world. 

Anyway, it's safe to say that you've not seen the last of Martha from me. In fact, the jerseys on the right-hand side here are all earmarked for future versions! I may even make it up in some slinky viscose, so watch this space.

On that note, I'll leave you with this wonderfully flattering picture of me being a brat. While taking my photos, Charlotte suggested that I might want to look happier, so I flashed her my sweetest smile...