This print-loving magpie sewed her first solid colour make in 19 months and she likes it! It's the Olive pinafore from the Tilly and the Buttons Make It Simple book, which theoretically should have been very quick and easy to whip up. I'll explain why mine wasn't below, but first, can we marvel at how versatile she is in this mustard denim from Sew Me Sunshine?! I made this Instagram reel to show you.

So, Olive is generally a speedy and satisfying make, but tinkering with the fit for mine was a little time-consuming. If you look at the line drawings, you'll see that there's not much shaping around the waist, which is something I need in this style of clothing due to my proportions. I documented my pattern alterations as I went along and saved them in this Instagram highlight, but I'll outline them below too.

First up, I took 5.5cm out of the bodice to raise the waistline because I have quite a short torso, and I then trued the darts. Finally, starting with the narrowest part of the waistline, I added some shaping using a curved ruler. 

The waist shaping looked great, but because the darts were now much shorter than intended, I had a lot of excess fabric around the bum and tummy area. So I had to tweak the darts by adding some length back in, which took a few goes to get right. It was worth it though, as I managed to nail the fit for my shape back in March.

It should have been plain sailing after this, but it took me another five weeks to get Olive over the finishing line, all because of the bloody snaps. I had a few failed attempts on scrap bits of fabric which really put the fear into me, plus I was so angry about it that I needed to step away for a bit. I went through two different packs of snaps before conceding that I needed a smaller size, but installing them with the Prym pliers (I got mine from Like Sew Amazing) was a breeze in the end. 

It was worth all the drama though, as I'm really happy with the final result. I used some amazing leftover Spoonflower cotton for the facings and added my favourite finishing touch with a Kylie and the Machine label. 

You can't tell so much in these photos, but because I finished this ages ago, the fit is looser than I'd like (the perils of using exercise to get through a pandemic). It's nothing that can't be remedied with a belt though, so now I can create two looks with one pinafore.

Am I the only person to have underestimated how satisfying sewing solids can be? The outfit possibilities seem endless!

This month I've been co-hosting #SewVintageSeptember on Instagram with Kerry of Kestrel Makes and it's been wonderful! Not only have I discovered many more vintage-loving stitchers and been inspired by  their makes, it's also re-ignited my interest in my own sizeable vintage pattern collection, which has  slowly dwindled in favour of indie brands in recent years. 

After a good rummage, I settled on McCall 6475 for my personal challenge, a sweet blouse pattern from 1946. I even managed to pair it with some 1940s stretch crepe from my stash, which was a bonus. 

Unlike some vintage patterns, this one has fully-printed pattern pieces and the instructions are very clear and thorough. The construction is also fairly simple, with the only fiddly bits being the narrow neck binding and easing the sleeves in. I made things even easier for myself by inserting an invisible side zip, instead of the lapped one the pattern calls for.

Being a vintage size 16, it falls pretty close to my measurements so I didn't have to make too many adjustments. After measuring the flat pattern pieces, I knew I had to take 5.5cm off the bodice so the waistline would hit me at the right point. To avoid messing with the design lines too much, I distributed this between the armhole and side seams, making sure to shorten the sleeve pieces accordingly. I then added the 5.5cm to the peplum, which in hindsight might be a bit too long. What do you think - should I shorten the peplum a bit? I saved all of my alterations in a highlight on Instagram called SVS for anyone interested. 

When I first set out to make this blouse, I had a vision of pairing it with a luxurious pair of RTW navy culottes I own, for a formal vintage feel. However, since I last wore them my shape has changed and they no longer fit properly. I was really disappointed and discovered that I don't actually have much else to pair this blouse with as I'm not really a smart separates person (something I've been meaning to rectify for years). 

I had to settle on the only pair of jeans that still fit me for the photoshoot and I just don't know how I feel about the overall look. It looks very contemporary, which wasn't the picture I had in my head, but maybe it means I'll actually wear it more in reality. I could throw a chunky knit over it for colder weather and wear it like this in warmer weather.

One thing I regret, is running out of time to make a matching belt. September turned out to be much busier than I expected both in and out of work, so my sewing time was quite limited. I might make one retrospectively, or get one made by Harlequin UK for a £12 bargain.

I also regret rushing to finish and machine hemming the peplum and sleeves. As a result, the hems are a bit wavy, so I should have taken the time to hand stitch them. Time wasn't on my side though and if it still bothers me down the line, I can always unpick and redo them.

A very apt and perfectly-matched label from Pink Coat Club

The neckline is the showstopper on this design for sure. I also love the raglan sleeves (the long sleeves are especially beautiful) and the subtle front and back waist gathers that give it a slightly blousy effect. It really is a very sweet pattern.

Overall, I'm not thrilled with my finished make - it's partly feeling like I rushed it and partly because I couldn't pair it with what I originally wanted to. I guess I'm also a little bit disappointed that I maybe wasn't ambitious enough for #SewVintageSeptember, but with how unpredictably busy the month turned out to be, that's not a bad thing. 

What I am happy about, is that this month has helped me to rediscover my neglected vintage sewing pattern stash. I'm going to make more of an effort to incorporate them into my future plans because I have some absolute stunners, especially in my 1930s collection.

Did you take part in #SewVintageSeptember? 

When Fabric Godmother released her latest collection of exclusive prints earlier this year, Josie generously invited me to pick my favourite as a gift, with no obligation to share what I made. Naturally, my love of big cat prints drew me to the gorgeous Cheetah Lily tencel crepe, and as soon as it arrived I just knew it had to become a Named Reeta Shirt Dress. I'm so happy with how it turned out that there's no way I wasn't going to share it. 

Recently I've been quite lazy with my sewing, opting for simpler/quicker makes, so this felt like the most involved project that I've tackled in a long time. Details like the pleated breast pockets, collar, waist channel, turned up sleeves, skirt vents and buttons all add to the luxurious finish of this dress, but they take time to sew. I also decided to make my own waist ties instead of using cord, so that didn't help matters. 

Once I accepted that this was going to be a slow sew and focused on one element at a time, I actually found the process quite enjoyable. It reminded me that it's ok if it takes longer than a day or a weekend to make something. Literally, what's the rush?!?

The pattern instructions are ok, but I always tend to need a bit of extra guidance when it comes to tricky bits as my brain can't cope with 2D explanations. When it came to the collar I did a bit of Googling and stumbled across Sew Sew Live's sew-along on YouTube. It really helped me to see it being sewn up, so I would recommend scrolling to 54 minutes in if you need help with that step.

The rest of the dress is actually pretty simple to make. Just make sure you carefully transfer all the pattern markings onto your fabric and take extra care if you're using something drapey.

Instead of adding the required buttonholes at each end of the waist channel, I was inspired by Crafty Clyde to use some hardware. I went for 11mm Prym eyelets in brass to match my buttons and I love how they look. With my fabric being so delicate, I figured that buttonholes wouldn't hold up as well over time and the eyelets feel much more robust. My buttons were a steal from a stall on Leicester Market and they're perfect for this dress.

In terms of sizing, I made a straight UK 12 and I'm really happy with the fit. I'm only 5ft 3" though, so I took about 10cm off the length and I probably could have taken off a bit more. Miraculously, when I measured the pattern pieces, the waist channel was already at my natural waistline (usually I have to shorten bodices), so I took 5cm off between the waist and hips and 5cm off between the hips and start of the side slits. As I was taking so much off I wanted to space it out to cause as little interruption to the design lines as possible and to make sure I didn't end up with tiny slits. It paid off I think. 

Throwing on this dress makes me feel effortlessly chic. It's both sophisticated and casual, an irresistible combination. I wore it out and about with black trainers recently and I've never felt so good during peak comfort levels. I can totally see why the Reeta Shirt Dress is such a popular make. Have you made it? What do you think to the pattern?

The minute I spotted this dreamy viscose from Fabric Godmother a few months ago, I knew I had to have it and I knew it needed to become The Sorrel Dress by Jennifer Lauren Handmade. I'm very much an impulse buyer when it comes to fabric, so buying with a purpose was a revelation. I might try to do it more often...haha!

Something about the vintage-inspired print paired with the classic shape of the pattern just screamed 1940s perfection to me and I wasn't disappointed. This dress came out exactly how I pictured it in my head and I couldn't be happier about it. It's a shame I finished it just in time for colder weather, but it might get some winter wear with a cropped cardigan and tights. 

I love the foldout collar, open-ended darts and grown-on sleeves which give this pattern a casual vintage twist. The fact that it's drafted in different cup sizes is the cherry on top. I made a straight size 12 in a C or D cup (I can't remember, annoyingly) and it fits so nicely. 

The only change I made was to shorten the bodice by 4cm, which turned out to be too much despite carefully measuring the flat pattern pieces like I always do. Bizarrely, the front is fine but the waistline is raised at the back and slightly pulls. You can't really see it in the pictures, but it's there and it bugs me, but it won't stop me from wearing it as it's cute otherwise.

My only criticism relates to the skirt. I was drawn to this pattern because of the simple A-line skirt, but it's almost like it could do with a tiny bit more volume. Making it in a floaty viscose probably hasn't helped matters and something with a bit more body might work better. Either way, it would be easy enough to fiddle with the shape if I wanted to do so for future versions.

Originally, I had my heart set on red buttons, but I didn't have quite the right shade of red. These pearly beauties worked a treat though and I love how they blend in perfectly to let the print do the talking. Of course I had to finish it off with a lovely Crafty Pinup label.

Have you made The Sorrel Dress? What do you think of it?

I usually steer clear of me-mades that you have to practically remove just to pop to the loo, but found it hard to resist the Safiya Dungarees that stitchers have been making in their hoards. It's one of six patterns featured in Make it Simple, the latest book from Tilly and the Buttons.

My heart was set on making this in some double gauze from my stash, but try as I may, I didn't quite have enough at the time. Emma has since kindly come through for me, so a second version could be on the horizon. In the meantime, I settled on a cotton lawn from my stash instead and I think it works really well as it's breezy to wear and layers up well with lots of different tops in my wardrobe.

I made a straight size 4, shortening the straps and trouser length, as well as taking in the bodice sides a smidge. Ideally, I would have gone a size smaller for the bodice, but as the pattern doesn't have any fastenings, I wouldn't have been able to pull it over my hips and bum. My bust/hip to waist ratio is always what puts me off loose styles, but the fabric belt helps to give it some shaping and it's been super comfy to wear while working from home during the pandemic.

If I do make a second version, I'll probably size down and add a side zip or front buttons. I've seen some gorgeous versions which are more fitted, so it's very tempting.

I had some leftover fabric, so I made myself a matching face covering...such are the times we're living in. It's the popular free pattern from Dhurata Davies, made with three layers of fabric and featuring nose/chin shaping. You can even add a filter and nose wire if you wish, though I didn't for this version. It's a really great pattern, but doesn't quite offer the coverage of the 3D one by Romilda Dias which I shared a tutorial for here if you're interested. 

Have you made any of the three versions of the Safiya pattern? Which is your favourite? I've also made the trouser version and I can't wait to share it with you because I'm truly smitten!

It's taken 11 years into my sewing journey for me to give shirring a go - that's how averse to change and failure I am. Ridiculous, I know! I'm so glad I finally ventured out of my comfort zone though and it's all thanks to the super cute Raspberry pattern from Cocowawa Crafts. I was seriously torn between the jumpsuit, playsuit and dress options, eventually opting for the former.

Needless to say, I watched a lot of YouTube videos about shirring, most of which made it look like the easiest thing in the world. But the method you need to use seems to depend on your brand of sewing machine.

Mine required me to take my bobbin case out and tighten the tension for it to shirr, which was a very scary prospect. What made it a bit less daunting though, was this tutorial by Ana (the beautiful human behind Cocowawa Crafts), who calmly and expertly guides you through the various steps you may need to take for success.

This make would have been my entry for Portia's Refashioners 2020, which was thoughtfully cancelled to allow for a more inclusive and representative line-up in the future. This year's challenge was to give a new lease of life to unloved/unused textiles from around your home like bedding, tablecloths, towels and old garments. 

It was the perfect opportunity for me to use these vintage curtain or table runner panels I found in a charity shop once upon a time. The cotton is surprisingly soft to handle so perfect for shirring, plus the colours and print are just so stunning. It had been in my stash for years as yellow's not a great pairing with my skin tone, but I think I can just about get away with this?!?

I shortened the bodice by 4cm and added those to the crotch length instead, which thankfully worked a treat. I also had to shorten the trouser length by quite a bit (maybe 8cm) and tapered them in by 2cm below the knee. I'm pretty happy with the final fit though and it required minimum effort to get there which is always a win. 

The only downside is that the bodice does sit a little high at the underarms, as it's a rectangle. Being a shirring novice, I've no idea if shaping the bodice piece would be possible, but I might be tempted to try it next time. It's absolutely not a deal-breaker for this version though.  

Naturally I had to make the ruffled straps as they're pretty AND they're better at covering bra straps. I'm not a massive fan of elasticated waists, so to hide the evidence I made a fabric belt and used this tutorial by Melly Sews to add handworked thread loops. Of course, the finishing flurry had to be a matching label from Modista's gorgeous French-inspired collection.

I really went to town with my stripe placement on this make, which was no mean feat as I was working with three narrow fabric panels, requiring a lot of pattern Tetris and cutting out on single layers. I'm so happy I went to all of that effort though, because the end result is exactly what I was hoping for!

The Raspberry Jumpsuit gets a big thumbs up from me. Are you a fan of the pattern?