Sewing Chair: Before + After

One of the perks of living in a complex of four apartment buildings is the un-official furniture exchange that operates in the courtyard. As tenants filter in and out, perfectly good pieces are left to be taken by whomever would like – it’s effective I would say only a third of what is left out is actually disposed of – the rest is taken into new homes.

It was through this serendipity that I gained a new sewing chair. I find a wheely chair much easier to manage sliding between my serger and sewing machine – it was the set up I had back in New Zealand and I wanted the same thing here. I’d been making do with a dining chair, planning eventually to head to Ikea when I saw a computer chair down at the drop-off. It was fully functioning and clean – just no longer needed so off it went with me.


In the end, I did make it to Ikea, picking up this Stockholm fabric for £7 and recovering it using the tutorial I’ve reposted below.

Amazing what a difference small changes can make.

FO: Simple Sewaholic Saltspring



Back again with a post I procrastinated over for a few months. Not that there’s anything wrong with this dress – it’s just I’m still struggling to find somewhere to take photos in my flat. The light of an English winter being what it is I’ve pushed the exposure on these pretty high to see the details and it’s less than ideal, gah. The photo situation is a work in progress but I have a couple of things still to try.

Anyways, this is of course the Sewaholic Saltspring pattern sewn in drapey jersey knit fabric. I actually completed this one before going on to the Salt-fall longsleeved variation – as you can see it’s not quite in season.


To be honest, the other reason I was hesistant to post this one, is because there is not much to really say about it. I followed the pattern as written and from memory I didn’t make any alterations. I must say it’s a super easy dress to fit due to the elastic waist and would be ideal if you had to make something for a friend as the measurements don’t need to be so precise.


In the end I figured it’s always nice to be able to see patterns on different body shapes so while this isn’t anything new it’s nice to have in the archives.


I promise something more exciting for next time! I had a lovely time catching up with new and old friends on Goldhawk Road yesterday so the motivation is revving up.

Colette Hawthorn: A Modern Sampler

Colette-hawthorn-titlei forgot to mention in my last post a new machine had joined the family and at the time of purchase I went a bit foot crazy and added some useful (according to le internet anyway) ones to my stash. Then followed much procrastination about actually using them, until a project came my way to utilise them all. May I present not just a muslin of Colette Patterns’ Hawthorn but also a modern kind of sampler, a chance to try a few new things without worrying about the outcome.

The Pattern: Colette Patterns Hawthorn

Size + Alterations: 

At least mostly this is the Hawthorn V.1 but sleevless. Except that I started with a self-drafted block I’m working on which went alternatly brilliantly and horrendous so I don’t think I’m ready to share that process here. Bottomline, The peplum, collar and neckline are all from the Hawthorn but bodice front and back are from a custom block and it’s most noticeable where the shoulders of my block are quite a bit narrower than the pattern is designed.

The Fabric: Yup – totally style-stakled Roisin for this one. After seeing her gorgeous BHL Anna dress I snuck along to Goldhawk Road for some of these lovely swimming ladies, and I heard some twitter talk that Classic Textiles might still have some in stock, is that right?


New Skills:  The Footloose Collection


Rolled Hem FootLessons I learned in no particular order: Don’t attempt the rolled hem when you’re tired – getting the initial roll happening will make you a little nuts and a lot frustrated, the bottonhole foot needs a lever pulled down from the top of your machine or it won’t go, lower the feed dogs when you use the button foot and lastly…. I wish I’d got all of these sooner!

Oh and one last toy – Karen and I must have been on the same page because one of these got used as well:

Buttonhole Chisel from Lazy Stitching on Vimeo.

Favourite Features: I do love those ladies in their swimming caps

Changes for Next Time:  Can I be honest? For all the fun I had in making this top (just call me Q) I feel a little meh, about the resulting garment and I don’t know that there will be a next-time. I like it but just not on me, ya know?


First Worn:  To work where I promptly spilled coffee all over it so maybe it’s a sign.

Salt-Fall Dress: Adding Sleeves to the Sewaholic Saltspring Dress Pattern

Salt-Fall-TitleThis is pretty much the dress I want to wear all of the time, these days. It’s stretchy, comfortable and can be dressed up or down easily… and it has pockets.


The Pattern: Sewaholic Renfrew + Sewaholic Saltspring

Contrary to what actually makes it to the blog, I have been sewing in the few moments I can grab around work and after my BHL Anna Dress I continued the maxi momentum with a full length knit Saltspring dress (which is languishing in the to be photographed pile). This pattern is everything lovely about Tasia’s designs – deceptively simple, beautifully cut and cleverly designed but it’s very much a summer dress with it’s drapey top and shoestring straps and damnit I wanted these same things going into Autumn so sleeves were needed.

Salt-Fall-SideEnter Sewaholic Pattern’s much loved basic the Renfrew (also made and not yet blogged).

Size + AlterationsI started with a size 16 in both patterns then overlapped the pattern pieces to see how they interacted together.



You can see that the the bodice front of the saltspring dress is longer than the bodice front lining and that it has been slashed and spread not just lengthened at the bottom edge.

Looking at the back view of the saltspring and renfrew together the hardest part was deciding where to align them. Because I was using a knit, I could eliminate the zipper and cut the back on the fold so I started by overlapping the centre back of each piece. Beyond that I just estimated where the waist would fall on each piece which happened to be between the lengthen/shorten lines on each piece so that’s what I went with.

Straight away you can see the saltspring piece is much wider so I started by tracing the renfrew neckline and armscye then merged into the saltspring for the side seam and the hem. I did have to go back and smooth the curve of the side seam but it was pretty straight forward.


I had to do this for the front bodice, front lining, back bodice and back lining. The skirt pieces are from the salt spring and the sleeves are from renfrew.

Other changes – I made a 1.5 inch FBA, made the neckline 2 inches lower at the front grading to a half inch wider at the shoulders.

The Fabric: 2.5 metres of Cotton Jersey from Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road @ £3.50 per meter.

Construction: Between you and me I kind of winged the construction but as best I can remember:

  • Bodice front to bodice back at the shoulders and side seams
  • Repeat with bodice front and back lining
  • With wrong sides together, basted bodice to lining at armscye and hem (allowing the bodice to bag out).
  • Sew sleeve seam
  • Sew sleeve cuff and attach as per Renfrew instructions
  • Insert the sleeve
  • Attach the neckband as per Renfrew instructions
  • Continue as per Saltspring instructions


Time to Make: One afternoon for altering the pattern pieces and another for sewing.

Favourite Features: It’s not so much a favourite feature but this is definitely super comfortable which is exactly what I needed. You know those pieces that feel like pajamas but don’t necessarily look it.Salt-Fall-BackChanges for Next Time: Definitely need more length in both the bodice and the skirt. I’m 5 foot 9 and generally I don’t have to make any adjustment for my height but I definitely noticed it here. You can see at the back that the elasticated waist doesn’t have as much blousing because I keep pulling it down. Next time I would add maybe 2 inches to the bodice pieces by slashing and spreading and 3 inches at the skirt hem.

First Worn: Family hols in Avignon.

2013-10-15 13.51.29



BHL Anna in Jersey

Photo 19-08-2013 09 31 24

Hulloh! I finally had a wee rest from work and managed to break my sewing dry spell in a most luxurious way – a stretchy, flowy Anna dress from By Hand London.

The Pattern: By Hand London Anna Dress

Size + Alterations: I know that the woven version is going to need some alterations including a full bust adjustment but for this one I embraced the stretch and just made a straight size 20 off the pattern. If I’d thought it through beforehand I would have eliminated the seams and darts from the back bodice but it still worked fine with them in. The only defference to the jersey was to take a wedge out from the under arm through the waist then grading quickly out at the hip.

Contouring the side seam

The Fabric: A funky grey on black aztec printed jersey found a the last Birmingham Rag Market Meet-up in June. I wasn’t sure it would work but the lovely ladies on twitter and instagram were all the support needed and Lizzy shared a link to this gorgeous knit version from Sew Exhausted.

Photo 17-08-2013 20 50 51

Time to Make: A few hours – about 50:50 cutting out and sewing together. I overlocked most of the seams which speeds things up for sure but the cutting took a while as you’re dealing with some loooong pattern pieces in the skirt.

New Skills: For the darts and tucks in the bodice I got to try out the walking foot that came with my new sewing machine and it worked a dream once I managed to actually get it onto the machine. For finishing the armholes and neckline I serged the edge then turned it under twice fixing with a straight stitch and another foot – the one with a 1/4in seam guide.

Photo 19-08-2013 09 32 41

Favourite Features: I love a good kimono sleeve and these fit well. The skirt is super full but becuase of the panels it doesn’t feel cartoonish.

Anna-PortraitAnna-Out-FrontFirst Worn: Lazing around the house and down to the shops on holidays – ’cause it’s all about the casual glamour, right?



Four Handmade Weeks


Me Made May 2013: The low key approach

This year for simplicity I pledged to wear at least 1 hand made item each day and I documented via instagram. It was a fun month although my motivation and inspiration started to drag towards the end. I think it reflects what I usually wear (double-knit or die I say) although I repeat items a lot more than I did here :)

Thanks Zoe for an awesome month.

2013-05-01 23.59.482013-05-02 06.52.592013-05-03 08.48.51 2013-05-04 10.47.512013-05-05 11.01.552013-05-06 12.07.35 (1)2013-05-07 06.33.21 2013-05-08 12.24.462013-05-09 09.07.202013-05-10 11.54.05 2013-05-11 09.23.482013-05-12 10.59.392013-05-13 11.49.19 2013-05-14 11.44.542013-05-15 11.47.55 2013-05-16 12.05.412013-05-17 12.01.36
2013-05-18 13.47.53
2013-05-19 21.28.15 2013-05-20 11.44.35 2013-05-21 22.57.312013-05-22 12.29.36 2013-05-23 12.14.202013-05-24 13.44.242013-05-25 16.29.192013-05-26 21.46.23

2013-05-27 21.50.012013-05-28 23.40.39

Technical Glitches

photo (8)Word to the wise… iphones are good for a great many things but fixing blog issues on the fly at work isn’t one.

Apologies to anyone who couldn’t access the blog yesterday or recieved multiple notifications, it should be fixed now and if you missed the post on Tilly’s Mathilde Blouse you can find it here.

Cheers m’dears,



Tilly’s Mathilde Blouse


The Pattern: Tilly and the Buttons Mathilde Blouse

Size + Alterations: I cut a size 6* and cheated my way out of the usual full bust adjustment by converting the pintucks into gathers and dropping the centre front 2 inches.


In a wonderful coincidence Tilly just posted a super clear tutorial on how to do this so jump on over for instructions. The only difference I made was that my gathers started at the first pintuck marking so they were more concentrated at the centre.

For the sleeves I reduced the width at the bottom by a few inches to make it a bit more practical for work (I work in hospitality so drapey things risk getting caught on equipment).

imageThe Fabric: Printed poly crepe from Goldhawk Road at £3.50 per metre. I had been hunting for the perfect fabric ever since I saw this photo on design*sponge.

Time to Make: Do we count the two months I procrastinated over putting in the buttonholes? In all seriousness it is a lovely fast project, I can’t remember actual timings but I was helped by leaving off the pin-tucks.

imageNew Skills: French seamed armholes, baby! And a second use of this interfacing method – stitch fusible interfacing to facing in a narrow seam, trim, turn and press leaving a non-bulky finished edge.image



Favourite Features: The buttoned back and (confession time)…


… I outsourced my buttonholes! After confessing to my patternmaking tutor that this was languishing in my sewing pile without buttonholes he kindly offered to do them on the college’s industrial buttonholer.

Changes for next time: I love the gathered version but it would be nice to do the pintucked one too in a simpler fabric.

First Worn: Me Made May Day 13


P.S. I’m posting my Me Made May Pics here on instagram

*Tilly’s uses a different sizing system to the big 4.

Mission Maxi

imageBring on the Sun!

imageThe Pattern: Jamie Christina Mission Maxi, view A

Size + Alterations: I cut a size 16 (chosen by my high bust measurement) then made a that’ll-do style of FBA, i.e. I fudged it from a few different tutorials on the interwebs. I didn’t want a side seam bust dart as this is jersey so rather than sew the one created by the FBA I just eased the excess into the back pieces at the side seams. To my great surprise it actually worked!

The Fabric: Oh this fabric! It was lust at first sight. I’d already found a nice classic navy at a previous shop when I spied this origami paper style print at Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road and to make it even better it was only £3.50 per metre and is super soft.

Time to Make: So fast, I cut out the night before then sewed it together in an hour or two the next morning.

New Skills: Attatching a knit binding – the instructions are awesome for this.

imageFavourite Features: So quick, so neat, so easy, so comfy.


Changes for Next Time: Adjust the back piece to hide bra-straps.

‘scuse the scrunched up face – the glare was out of control!

First Worn: On holiday back home and many times since.


Gap-tastic Cowl + Holiday Recap

imageDisclaimer: I feel the need to warn you guys, this might get a little rambly and dis-jointed courtesy of the jet lag currently kicking my arse.

Now with that out of the way, let me show you my second ever* wearable knitting project – the free Gaptastic Cowl pattern from Jen Geigley on Ravelry.


I learnt to knit as a six-year-old during a short stint at a Rudolf Steiner school (we even made our own wooden knitting needles!) but for years it was always a back-burner craft. But once I started seeing this lovely and simple pattern popping up on the likes of Tasia and Kelli I knew a return to the needles was imminent.


The wool and needles came from a small shop on Walthamstow market (narrow store front on the left not too far down) I used 2x 150g skeins in a lovely mauvey colour and being a novice I didn’t realise this yarn was way less chunky than described. To compensate, I used smaller 6.5mm circular needles and cast on 191 stitches rather than the 131 in the instructions. It worked out just right for wrapping around the neck twice.

Also, it must look close to the original inspiration because when my sister saw it she said it looked just like a cowl she bought from Gap a couple of years ago. (insert happy-dance here).

Here it is with a magazine for scale.


It was pretty slow going as I mostly used time on the bus and tube for knitting keeping home-time for sewing.

imageI managed to get the last stitch in while standing on the tube platform at Heathrow, just in time for my flight home to New Zealand. It was perfect to snuggle into on the plane, but I definitely didn’t need it once I landed.image

Auckland and Melbourne certainly put on quite a show. It was so nice to be home and great to visit Melbourne – I just wish I had longer. Still I got to have coffee in Melbourne with the lovely Leith and managed to score some lovely fabric from Rathdowne including 2 meteres of this gorgeous bird print silk (any suggestions for what to make?).

imageBut back to the cowl – I already have wool for a second version in my favourite colour…

image*First wearable item… the worlds biggest pom-pom hat.