I can't quite believe how much life has changed in one month. Back in February, while coronavirus was gaining momentum worldwide, we were still free to come and go as we pleased in the UK. While our current locked down status is absolutely necessary, I'm so grateful that I got to catch up with sewing friends in the flesh at various events just weeks before.



One such event was The New Craft House Galentine's Party. The night itself was such a giggle, made even sweeter by the fact that Amy of Almond Rock and I won the #SewingWife bingo, for which our matching fabric choice definitely gave us the edge.

We both randomly bought this gorgeous cupid/cherub print viscose twill from Ditto Fabrics a while back with no real plan in mind, until the perfect occasion revealed itself. When Hannah and Rosie announced their party, I knew I had to use this fabric and I knew exactly which pattern to pair it with.


I'd been lusting over the stunning Solina dress in Breaking the Pattern by Named for ages, so I seized the chance to finally make it. Something about the whimsical ties and floaty silhouette really called to me, especially after seeing SO many amazing versions on Instagram.


I think I made a straight size 4 (or 5...I can't remember) and miraculously, I didn't have to shorten the bodice for the ties to hit at my natural waistline. I also didn't have to shorten the sleeves, which was another pleasant surprise. However, I removed 15cm off the length, and I probably could have trimmed more off. 

Inspired by a number of clever stitchers, I lengthened the waist ties to 80cm each so I could wrap them all the way around as I was worried about how the 'shift' shape would look like on me from the back. I'm pretty happy with the result. 

I was gutted that I had to sacrifice the centre skirt slit because I didn't have enough fabric, so I'd love to include that feature next time. For a second version I would also pinch a small wedge out of the front neckline and tweak the back bodice as it's a little too long, giving me a slight hunchback. Even though the ties are one of my favourite elements of the sleeves, I would probably skip them again as they're so impractical.



All in all, I felt super glamorous in this dress and I'm pleased that I tried (and liked) a shape that's out of my comfort zone. Have you seen the super cute top version of the Solina pattern? I'm 100% making one this summer!

For my birthday (I'm 37 today...yikes!!!), I usually like to make a new dress. This year's dress still needs hemming though, so I thought I'd show you another recent make instead!




Meet my second Tilly and the Buttons Indigo Dress...she's a grizzly little bear. Not really, but the amazing grizzly bear crepe was from Fabric Godmother ages ago, who always has such a great ex-designer/deadstock collection.

I made the exact same fit alterations as I did for my leopard print version, but because crepe is heavier than viscose, this dress has ended up longer which I don't mind. At the time, I wanted a speedy make, so I left out the pockets, went for plain sleeves/waist and made the bold decision not to add waist ties. Loose styles are never the best look on me because of my big bust and admittedly this looks better from the front than it does the side or back. But, I love it nonetheless - it's super cute thanks to the print and as comfy as you'd imagine!




My favourite thing about this dress is that you can wear it loose, or pair it with a cropped cardigan/jumper for an instant cinched in look. So it really is the best of both worlds!



Now to go find all the forest green fabrics because it's such a delightful colour and I need more of it in my handmade wardrobe...

Starting the new year by sharing a failure is not ideal, but I’m surprisingly chipper about it thanks to the valuable lessons I’ve learned and the unexpected confidence it’s given me.

This make came about after Simplicity asked me to take part in their hack-along blogger challenge to raise money for The Eve Appeal, the only UK national charity funding research and raising awareness into the five gynaecological cancers (womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal).

For every hack-along pattern sold in the UK, Simplicity will be donating a portion of the sales to the charity. Keep reading for my ambitious hack and to find out more about how you can win great prizes by entering the competition.





The hack - what worked

Egged on by my sewing wife Amy at Almond Rock, I decided to hack Simplicity 8700 into a raincoat. Having never made outerwear before, I really had my work cut out for me, but I'm pretty pleased with how the hacking process went.

I started with the short version of the jacket and eliminated the shoulder tabs, breast pockets, collar and sleeve cuffs. For a more streamlined look, I got rid of the back yoke by overlapping the two back pattern pieces (yoke and back) at/by the seam allowances and treating them as one pattern piece.

For the hood, I used the Tilly and the Buttons Eden Coat as a starting point. I traced out the pattern pieces and compared the dimensions of the Simplicity neckline to the base of the hood. I had to pinch out a fair few centimetres from the base of the hood so it would fit the jacket neckline, but I was careful not to take too much of the excess out of rest of the hood to avoid it becoming too shallow.

Next time I would address the super dropped shoulders - which probably look worse on me due to my narrow frame - but overall, this was actually a less challenging hack than I envisioned.



The hack - what didn't work

I'm sad to say that despite the successful elements of this make, it's completely unwearable due to my fabric choice. Don't get me wrong, I love the colour and print so much, but when it arrived in the post from Sew Me Sunshine, I knew in my heart of hearts that it was too heavyweight. A softshell waterproof or treated twill would have worked better, but because this was so pretty I was determined to plough on.

I could have looked past the stiffness and lack of breathability of the fabric - which in my opinion would be better suited to tablecloths, aprons, bibs, etc - had my sewing machine played ball. But it hated this fabric so much. It could just about handle sewing two layers together, but for bulkier areas like the neckline, hood and pockets it skipped stitches and the bobbin thread tension was too loose, resulting in very weak seams. It didn't matter what needle/tension/stitch length/etc I tried, or whether I used my walking foot, the result was always the same.

Not wanting to waste even more materials/notions/time/sanity, I decided not to finish the jacket. I didn't add the gorgeous bronze snaps I had picked out, the full lining I had sewed up, or the drawstring waist detail I had planned - all of which were provided by the generous people at Minerva Crafts, along with some other notions and tools. Don't worry though, I'll put them to good use soon.

I was even planning on pressing the lining to the outside before topstitching the sleeves and hem, to create the illusion of piping, just like I did for the pockets. Oh well, next time!


There will be a next time, you see. Because the one thing I'm taking away from this experience is confidence. I realised that making outerwear isn't as hard as I imagined and that it's actually quite fun. I'm now fully pumped to make a wearable jacket and look forward to the sense of accomplishment I know it will bring.

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If you’ve been inspired to take part in the challenge, you can choose any of the nine patterns in the Simplicity Pattern Hacking range, pick a category to enter and share your hack on social media with the relevant category hashtag:

DAYWEAR - #HackalongDay

PARTY - #HackalongParty

UNIQUE VINTAGE - #HackalongVintage

Email your entries with the pattern number and category to simplicityhackalong@icloud.com for a chance to win Sewing or Coverstitch machines from Janome and goody bags from Simplicity and their sister brands. The full pattern list and rules can be found online at SewDirect.