You guys, as beautiful as this dress turned out, I definitely needed some distance before I could bring myself to write about it. Since transitioning, Charlotte has found sourcing well-fitting clothes a stressful challenge, especially the smart/fitted variety. Even when shopping tall ranges she struggles to get the length in the bodice and skirt that she needs, as well as enough width across the back. 

With a number of weddings to attend this year I took pity upon her and naively volunteered to make her a couple of dresses. All I can say is thank feck I started the first dress a month before the first wedding. It took the best part of three weekends to complete, one of which was the long Easter break, and a staggering SEVEN muslins!

I started off by grading up The Mortmain, which worked fairly well with a nice fit across the back, but armhole issues meant Charlotte couldn't move her arms. I took some length out of the waist and added it through the armhole, but that backfired with movement restricted even further. In a frustrated frenzy I decided it would be quicker to just draft a bodice from scratch and dug out my copy of Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear by Winifred Aldrich. Turns out if your measurements are outside of the average range you're screwed. 

My last resort was to rub off a RTW dress that fits Charlotte fairly well and make the necessary tweaks to perfect it. Easier said than done. Again, the back was pretty much spot on from the outset, but I ended up with extra ease in the side boob region. With invaluable hand-holding (via Instagram) from The Thrifty Stitcher I managed to remove the ease with some clever slashing and dart manipulation. But fixing that problem led to annoying fitting issues across the upper chest which I ran out of time to resolve. Not only that, but I also exhausted my limited trouble-shooting and fitting skills. 

The whole process made me realise just how limited my drafting/grading knowledge is and how unnaturally it comes to me. Thanks to fantastic advice from so many Instagram friends though, I now have a long reading list and tutorial recommendations before I tackle the next dress!

Aaanyway, despite it all, Charlotte was very grateful for my efforts and over the moon to have a pretty new dress which she reckons is better than any RTW fit she could hope for. It says more about the shortcomings of RTW than my dressmaking skills...haha! 

The fabric is this stunning cotton sateen from Mood, handpicked by Charlotte herself and hand-delivered by my mum. The P&P from the US costs an arm an a leg, but I got it sent to my mum (who lives in North Carolina) and she then brought it with her to Cyprus where I met her during a family visit in March.

Do you recognise the skirt? It's a slightly modified By Hand London Elisalex. At Charlotte's request, I altered the side seams so it's less of a tulip shape and more A-line. I was working with the original printed pattern, but I actually think By Hand London have altered the PDF version in a similar way.

I'm obviously biased, but isn't Charlotte a total knockout in this ensemble? She styled it with a cropped navy cardi for the wedding and has seriously good taste in accessories. I loved her ASOS belt so much that I totally stole her style and ordered it in rose gold for myself. I definitely wouldn't enter a 'who wore it better' competition against her though!

Despite the traumatic journey, it was all worth it to see her looking gorgeous and feeling comfortable. The things we do for love, eh?

Let's hope my second attempt goes a bit smoother... 

Happy Friday friends! A busy few weeks means that this weekend will be spent on frantically trying to make a frock for #TheDressmakersBall which is a week today. I'm hoping to pair the luxurious claret velvet I got from Leicester Market with one of the three vintage patterns below, in what will be my first #VintagePledge of the year too.

If I don't succeed I will have to go to the ball in RTW or naked...both terrible options, so no pressure!

To find out which of the three patterns I'll be tackling, check out my YouTube video below. Which (if any) is your favourite?

Also, are you going to #TheDressmakersBall? Have you made your outfit yet?

Hi friends! I've been super busy these past few weeks, making myself and Charlotte dresses for a friend's wedding this weekend. Charlotte's dress has been a real labour of love, with countless hours spent on grading and drafting, and mine is a bit of a departure from my usual style. More on those coming soon, but you can have a sneak peek over on Instagram if you're curious!

In the meantime, I shared a recent Stoff & Stil fabric haul on my YouTube channel which you can also watch below. I have plans for some of the fabrics, but would love to hear your ideas for the rest!

All the cool kids seem to be on YouTube, so I decided to give it a go myself...for better or for worse! By way of introduction my first video centres around #TheSeamstressTag, a clever initiative by Holly Dolly which enables sewing vloggers/bloggers to link up with each other. As I'm late to the party I can't think of any new vloggers to tag, but it's open to absolutely do play along if you'd like to!

I have a few ideas for regular videos if time allows, but please do let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to see on my channel. And if you like what you see - I'm hoping to become less wooden with time - don't forget to subscribe :o)

This is the Monet Messenger Bag from Simple Way. I took the kit down to Brighton with me in December as a way to stay creative while Charlotte was recovering from surgery in hospital, and completed it over a couple of days. It was the perfect portable project - flat to pack (on the way there at least) and no sewing machine required!

Like the Heart Bag Kit I made in 2015 while Charlotte was recovering from another surgery, this one includes the bag pieces pre-cut and pre-punched too. It also comes with a special needle and thread, as well as an instruction booklet. The instructions are pretty basic, but for a project this ridiculously easy they're fine.

I'm really fond of the scarlet colour and streamlined design, but I think the Monet Messenger could benefit from a couple more features. At just £8 cheaper than the Heart Bag Kit, I'd rather pay a bit more for a magnetic closure and inside pocket. 

The biggest disappointment with my second Simple Way transaction was the delivery. Charlotte paid extra for a speedy service because it was a last minute birthday present for me, yet the kit took ages to arrive. They did refund P&P posts for her though, which was good, but still a tad inconvenient at the time.

Also disappointing was the bizarrely uneven front piece, something I didn't notice until I finished hand-stitching the bag. It caused the front flap to sit askew and really annoyed me that Charlotte had paid good money for a faulty kit. However, after much sulking, it was a very easy fix - I used a ruler to draw a level line across and just cut away the excess (seen below) with a pair of scissors.  

Saying all this, the quality of the leather is really good and hard-wearing if my Heart Bag is anything to go by. I really enjoyed making both bags as they're satisfying projects which you can relax in front of the telly with and then enjoy donning daily.

Despite the hiccups we encountered with the Monet Messenger and the fact that the kits are pretty pricey,  I'd still love to try my hand at some more designs. I'm currently crushing on their satchels, the Cartridge Bag, the Toggle Bag and the Fox Handbag.

Have you tried a Simple Way kit before? What do you think?

Your commitment to #VintagePledge never fails to inspire me, you guys! As we're already a quarter of the way into 2017, I thought I'd share a taster of what you've been busy pinning to the dedicated Pinterest board

I'll be posting quarterly updates on the blog and more regular ones on Instagram, but in the meantime don't forget to sign up to #VintagePledge here. I've shared my plans, what are yours?

Vintage Gal - 1930s crochet jumper and matching hat in mustard

English girl at home - 1930s reproduction pattern paired with velvet

EM Originals - 1940s blouse pattern paired with vintage rayon

Mermaid's Purse - 1950s pattern paired with an autumnal cotton

Allie J - 1960s pattern paired with a lightweight cotton sateen

These Days are Few - 1960s pattern paired with a cotton floral print

Try Curious - 1970s pattern paired with silk

You guys seemed to fall pretty hard for sneaky shots of this make on Instagram, so I hope the full reveal of my Stoff & Stil 23127 top doesn't disappoint!

Before you scroll down any further, a disclaimer: The following photos could not be helped for it was impossible to not pose in such ways that show off the dramatic sleeves reminiscent of 1930s glamour.  

Don't say I didn't warn you about the cheesy photos! Anyway, moving on... 

The dress and top pattern is designed for woven fabrics, but I really fancied pairing it with this delightful french terry that Portia coerced me into buying during our trip to Stoff & Stil's headquarters earlier in the year. With it's textured metallic look and luxuriously slinky feel, it's hard to believe it's actually a snuggly loose-weave knit.

Like all Stoff & Stil patterns, this one's only available in single sizes, so I went by my largest measurement and chose a 14/42. I think I would have struggled with the fit across my hips for the dress version, but the top turned out pretty fine. I just pinched a bit of surplus out from the neckline and side boob area.

I only pieced the back piece due to lack of yardage and I was hoping to omit a closure altogether. However, the neckline's quite high and I didn't want to stretch it out over time, so I added an exposed zip. I love the way it looks, though the centre back of the pattern is curved so it doesn't sit as nicely as it could. That's an easy fix for next time though.

Another thing to note about Stoff & Stil patterns is that they come pre-cut on something that looks and feels like interfacing. While there's no tedious cutting out, don't get your hopes too high though about checking the fit without wasting fabric. Sadly they don't include enough pattern pieces for that (in this case only one back half and sleeve), but I worked around it by tracing another back half onto Swedish tracing paper and sewing the whole lot together (minus one sleeve) before cutting out my fabric.

Patterns also come unprinted with perforated shapes as markings, much like some of the older vintage patterns out there. This wasn't an issue for such a simple design, but could be a little intimidating for more complex ones I guess.

What is really remarkable about Stoff & Still patterns is the very resonable price, this one being under a fiver! They design, print and cut them all in-house (the cutting machine is so cool and clever!) making it more affordable for themselves.

Have you tried a pattern from their range yet? If not, are you tempted?

Despite a rather late announcement of #VintagePledge 2017, I want to thank you SO much for your enthusiasm. Many of you have already made a wonderful start to the pledge and I'm loving reading your plans - from using a vintage drafting book and tackling your first ever vintage pattern to knitting along and sewing a garment for each season! 

Given that my pledge is to sew at least one pattern in my stash from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, I thought I'd show you some of my favourite patterns from each decade. But before that, there are a couple of related things you might find interesting. Allie J has published a helpful guide to buying your first vintage pattern (with the chance to win a $25 Etsy voucher to help you on your way) and Mrs Hughes is hosting an awesome #DressLikeYourGrandma challenge until 17 April!

The 1930s just oozed glamour and I've managed to get my mitts on some stunning sewing patterns over the years. I seldom have the occasion to wear anything quite so lovely, so the challenge I'll face is tailoring this decade to my lifestyle. 

Despite times being tough for many people during the 1940s, even the more modest fashions were full of beautiful detail. I'm actually surprised by how contemporary the Hollywood and McCall patterns look, which is a reminder of how much recent styles are still influenced by vintage designs.

The 1950s are so very classic and sometimes downright extravagant. Controversially, it's the simpler designs of the decade that I'm drawn to, as I feel my frame could easily be swamped by oodles of fabric.

A lot of exciting fashion developments took place in the 1960s, but lacking the figure for wiggle skirts and mod styles, I'm mostly attracted to the fashion of the earlier part of the decade. I actually attempted the Vogue pattern seven years ago and ended up abandoning it as I wasn't skilled enough to tackle fitting issues. I still have the lovely monochrome cotton lawn, so I'm tempted to give it another go this year!

Until recently, I swore I hated 1970s fashion. Yet I'm finding myself increasingly attracted to it and it's ALL YOUR FAULT for sewing up super cool things like this! I've definitely warmed to the fuss-free and wearable sewing patterns out there.

The real challenge, of course, will be finding/making time to sew everything I want to this year. As well as my #VintagePledge I also have big contemporary sewing plans with new patterns sneaking in every week!

I imagine lots of you feel the same way, but I do hope you can join me for a spot vintage sewing...