In my head, this photoshoot looked more 'winter wonderland' and less 'construction site', but anyone who's lived through building work will know how trashed a garden gets. Nevertheless, the novelty of photographing a festive dress during snowfall was far too strong a pull.

This is view B of the Pauline Alice Aldaia Dress with sleeves from view A (minus the cuffs), in a silver pleated velvet jersey from Fabric Godmother. Although it doesn't actually look that festive, I can't help but associate shimmery velvet with this time of year.

I expressed my love for this pattern when I made view C, but sadly I don't think this version will get any wear in its current state. I just don't feel comfortable at all in a figure-hugging skirt. Despite wearing big spanx and tights, I still felt super self-conscious of my bumpy/lumpy hips and I don't see that ever changing.

Also, I'm not so sure that my large bust looks at its best draped in shiny pleats. However, I do like the bodice and could probably overlook this issue if the skirt was to my liking, so I'm quite tempted to order some more fabric for a fuller skirt. Doing so would make this a really pricey dress though!

If you're curious about sizing, I made a 42 and graded the hips up to a 44. The sleeves were a little loose so I increased the seam allowance on those and I also shortened the skirt by 7cm. I then had to unpick some of the side seams to make the slits longer again, so something worth thinking about if you need to take up the skirt. 

Working with pleated velvet was no problem at all thanks to my walking foot and a stretch needle. Just like the last time I made this pattern, I added clear elastic to the waistline. I really don't get why the pattern doesn't call for it, but I do know that heavy velvet needs something to stop it from sagging and losing its shape. 

If you're wondering where the cute rabbit fits in, it's not every day I make a dress that matches my velvety Birdie bunny! For this happy accident alone, I'm tempted to throw more cash at this dress to make it wearable for me. What do you think? Should I get more fabric and replace the skirt with a fuller shape? 

Happy Friday friends! I'm thrilled to be sharing my Vogue Patterns Cocktail Hour dress today, supporting this year's charity sew-along from The McCall Pattern Company in partnership with The Eve Appeal. There are 20 gorgeous patterns to choose from, with a proportion of the sales going to the charity which is raising awareness and funding research into five gynaecological cancers. 

Months ago, when I first chose to make Vogue 8997, I had visions of a romantic version in a dark floral with floaty sleeves. Then along came this stunning Cocktail Hour cotton lawn from Fabric Godmother and I had to seriously rethink my plans. I mean, aside from it having the perfect name for this sew-along,  I was powerless to resist the mid-century print and delicious colour palette.

I immediately knew that the print needed showing off with as few distractions as possible...which was problematic given the fussy design lines of Vogue 8997. The only solution was to hack the pattern - a difficult decision, but the right one I think.

I kept the princess seam bodice and re-drew the front pieces for a straight waistline. I wanted to add a circle skirt, but I soon realised that my fabric wasn't quite wide enough. Luckily, the By Hand London Flora Dress skirt came to the rescue! The whole dress is lined with anti-static lining which makes it swish nicely when I move around.

One impressive thing about the pattern is that the bodice pieces come in a number of different cup sizes. I cut out a size 14 in a D cup, but could probably have gone down to a C cup as I ended up taking out a bit of fullness. Overall though, the fit was pretty good. I just had to pinch out a little excess to prevent gaping along the neckline and tighten the 'straps'.

What I really wanted to include in this photoshoot was a sexy cocktail...but could I find an appropriate glass anywhere? With 90% of our kitchen packed away due to building work, I didn't stand a chance!

Anyway, have you been following the #SipAndSew action? Browse the beautiful makes by participating bloggers and keep an eye out for the remaining three contributions to the sew-along. 

And to see what a true Vogue 8997 looks like, check out this wonderful version by Almond Rock!

OMG you guys! Let me introduce you to my dress pattern of dreams, the Pauline Alice Aldaia Dress. Admittedly, my version of view C looks almost identical to my beloved Tilly and the Buttons Martha Dress, but Aldaia is actually intended for stable knit fabrics so that's a bonus. Also, how tempting are views A and B? Personally, I can't wait to pair the faux wrap-front with the full skirt.

This pattern has everything I look for in a dress - fitted bodice, flared skirt, modest neckline and short sleeves. I love that the front bodice is shaped with princess seams and the back with flattering waist darts. I'm also smitten with the panelled skirt, which provides all the fullness of gathers and none of the bulk.

What makes this dress extra special though is the deliciously autumnal jersey from Stoff & Stil. I think they've sold out of this print, but they have so many lovely knits to choose from!

Shockingly, this was my first time using a Pauline Alice pattern. The packaging is super cute and the pattern is printed on quality paper, which makes such a difference. The instructions are on the short side, but sweet enough for a simple jersey dress with clear illustrations. 

I made a straight size 42 and it fits really well without the usual neckline gaping I tend to get. I shortened the bodice by 2cm (though I might just go for 1.5cm next time) and added 2cm to the skirt, so be warned that it's quite short considering I'm only 5ft 3". 

The only thing I found perplexing is that the pattern doesn't call for elastic to stabilise the waist. Even though it recommends using stable knits, they too tend to stretch out over time, so I added elastic to mine for a snug fit.

One thing I was initially put out by was the way the neckline and sleeves are finished with facings. I mean, the beauty of sewing with knits is that you don't have to finish seams and you can just turn raw edges under and topstitch...amarite?!? 

I'm so glad I didn't cut any corners though and that I bothered to hand-pick the facings down. I love how sleek and professional the finish looks. I definitely won't be skipping this step in future...because gorgeous knits deserve better!

In fact this dress looks so smart that I wore it to a wedding recently, when I ran out of time to finish my intended wedding-guest dress. I paired it with this electric blue cardigan, chunky necklace, cute shoes and mustard clutch (not pictured...booo), and I felt like a million dollars. Oh, and did I mention how comfortable I felt too...secret pyjama dresses for the win!

Have you made the Aldaia Dress yet? Are you tempted?

Can you believe we're three quarters of the way through 2017...and this year's #VintagePledge? I was making great progress with my plans (here and here) before I stalled, and now we're in the middle of some pretty major building work which has rendered me sewing room-less!  

I don't really need to ask how you're getting on though, because from the looks of the dedicated Pinterest board, you're killing it! So much so, that I reckon a mini round-up of your recent makes will inspire those in myself.


Gwenstella Made's reproduction 1950s lemon drop dress 

Annotations of Jenny's 1930s linen cape dress

Jess Sews Clothes' 1978 jersey cowl-neck dress  

Carolyn's 1960s reproduction flamingo dress

Jade Juney's 1960s denim shift dress

Andi Satt's 1950s reproduction 'shirtdress'

Nicole Needles' 1950s leopard-print pedal pushers

By Gum, By Golly's 1950s-inspired outfit

Handmade By Heather B's Pendleton 49er knock-off

By the way, there's still time to take part in the #VintagePledge as it's a year-long challenge!

Are you taking part in House of Pinheiro's #SewPhotoHop on Instagram this month? If not, make sure you do next September as it's heaps of fun with loads of prizes up for grabs.

Anyway, today's 'makes you happy' photo prompt spurred me on to get this post written. A little while ago, my cheeky monkey of a mum went through my sewn makes and sent me a wish-list comprising of things she thought would suit her. She already has my Sewaholic Lonsdale Dress (modelled in the pictures above) and a few others too!

Despite it being a long list (SO cheeky), she knew that I've not been wearing many of them recently and so fancied her chances. Truth be told, nothing makes me happier than seeing my unwanted makes go to a good home...and there's no better home for them than my mum's! 

She was so excited and grateful to receive them, that she volunteered to take photos for my blog. Isn't she literally the cutest?

Being a slightly smaller frame than me, she did have to get a local seamstress to take them in a smidgeon, but it was well worth it I think. She's modelling the Belladone and Vogue 5671 below, with hopefully pictures of the others to come.

What do you do with your unwanted makes? Do you have an eager friend or relative to lovingly take them off your hands?

Over the last couple of years I've definitely taken a bit of a back seat when it comes to pattern testing. It's not due to a lack of goodwill, just a lack of time sadly. But every now and again a pattern crops up which looks too darned cute to pass up and fast to stitch up. That's how I felt about the latest pattern from Cocowawa Crafts, the Chestnut Sweater and Top

As a lover of back detail and snuggly sweaters, this pattern offers the perfect combination of both. I paired it with the snuggest cactus-print French terry from Stoff & Stil and it's like wearing a pyjama top. Hell, it may even look like it, but I really don't care because it's SO comfortable!

As much as I love the sweater version, I tested the top because waistbands can look unflattering on my shape. I really like how the back facings help give a clean finish at the neckline and hem. I'm also a fan of the high-low hem and the cheeky little side splits.

I couldn't resist the bow-closure back, which in hindsight I may need to reinforce. The pattern calls for hardy ribbon, but I used jersey strips because I loved the colour combo with the teal. They won't stand the test of time though, so I may have to replace my bows soon...anyone know where to find teal ribbon please?!?

The pattern pieces came together very nicely and to get this fit I cut a size 4 for the neckline, armholes and sleeves, then a size 5 for the rest.

Aside from some small niggles which Ana has amended, the instructions are detailed and easy to follow. Like most patterns made with knits in mind, you can sew this on a regular sewing machine so it's no biggie if you don't have an overlocker, twin needle and so on.

Having never sewn a Cocowawa Crafts pattern before, my first experience has been very pleasant indeed! What do you think to Chestnut?

I made my first ever Named Kielo Wrap Dress for a wedding in April...and I've never worn it. I convinced myself that I looked hideous in it from the back, when in fact, it's not quite as bad as I first thought. And now it's too cold to wear it. At least I have a 'new' maxi dress in the bag for summer 2018!

To be clear, my issue with the dress is purely personal relating to my body shape and nothing to do with the pattern itself. Kielo is undoubtedly cool and looks effortlessly elegant on everyone I've seen wearing it, but my issue stems from the fact that it hugs/exposes far too much of my muffin top and wide bum than I'm comfortable with. 

For the record, I'm wearing the BIGGEST control pants EVER in these pictures, which has definitely helped to smooth things out a bit.

Let's just take a minute to appreciate my gorgeous floral jersey from Minerva Crafts though! It's sadly sold out, but there are plenty of other flowery pretties to choose from. 

Back to the pattern, it's super speedy to sew up, so a real winner in that respect. If you're a fan of the design, you could quite easily whip up an entire summer wardrobe of Kielos. The only thing I found frustrating was trying to get a neat finish around the armholes. The interesting side seams make the shape at the underarm tricky to finish with binding, so it's definitely not my neatest work ever. If you have any tips/tricks for perfecting this, please do share in the comments below!

In terms of sizing, I cut out a UK size 12 and shortened the bodice by 4cm (it may have even been 8cm, but I can't remember!?!). Next time I think I'll shorten it by another 2cm or more to better align the ties to the narrowest part of my short waist. I'm sure I also shortened the length, but it's been so long my memory's faded. It's fair to say that Named patterns are drafted with tall girls in mind!

Obligatory unwrapped Kielo pictures with bonus faux-flexing. 

To see you through the cooler months, just add the long sleeves which Named have made available as a free download. This can be quite a versatile number too, if you're inclined to explore different ways of tying your, erm, ties.

What do you think to the Kielo?