All posts by caroline

A New Design -Stork Print Dress

I recently decided that I need to expand the style and design of dresses that I make. I have so many different patterns in my stash that I am sure I shall never get around to making them all.

The first new style on the list was to be the Alder dress by Grainline Studios. I have this pattern in pdf format but not got around to printing it off. I studied the line drawing and having thought about it for a while believed that I could draft something very similar using my TNT bodice block.

Alder shirtdress by Grainline Studios

I first started with the simple rever collar which is also a TNT pattern. Then I extended the bodice front by 30 inches from the centre of the body darts and drew a parallel line to the front edge to make the centre front panel which would include a button fastening. The front facing was also extended by 30 inches which I knew would be too long but best to err on the side of safety and have too much rather than too little. The skirt was two rectangles, cut 30 inches deep x the width of the fabric which was 42 inches. Of course, I included my standard side seam pockets.

Storkfest by Hill-Berg from Fabricland, Salisbury

The fabric is yet another 100% cotton printed with birds (Storks or Cranes?) from the Salisbury branch of Fabricland. I bought 4 metres but only used just over 3 metres. I have since purchased some more fabric in this print to combine with the remnant and make a Summer Shirt/tunic top.

Construction took a little thinking about but in fact turned out to be fairly straightforward; I first stitched the darts for bust and the body darts on the back bodice. The shoulder seams were stitched and the collar basted into position. This was followed by the side seams of the bodice, checked for fit and then stitched. I made up the skirt which included slashing a ‘side seam’ into which the pockets were inserted and ran two rows of gathering thread along the top edge.

I did toy with the idea of adding a self-fabric tie belt but having pinned into place, was soon discarded. The skirt was attached to the bodice up to the centre point of the front bodice body darts. Those darts were then stitched and run down to join the front edge of the skirt panels to the extended centre panels of the bodice. The front facing was attached then buttonholes and buttons (Pale Duck Egg Blue from my stash) stitched. The armholes are bound with self-fabric bias binding. There is a wide 3 inch hem which I hand stitched in place.

My ‘Alder Lookalike’ Dress

I am absolutely delighted with this dress it has turned out just as I wanted and planned. I have some more cotton print from Fabricland that was gifted to me by the ladies of the Friday Sewing House Group and I plan to make another version of this new style dress.

Luna Lapin

I am often inspired by my stitching friends and on this occasion I was delighted to meet Luna Lapin made by Maureen. Apparently this charming felt rabbit is all over the internet and even has her own facebook page.

Luna Lapin Book

My friend loaned me her copy of the book that is complete with full-size patterns. I ordered up some wool felt and as soon as it arrived I was off!

Luna Lapin mark 1

I am not known for a love of hand sewing but I really enjoyed stitching Luna and am very pleased with the result. Currently she is naked (gasp!) but I do plan to make a set of clothes to be topped off by the Pale Blue coat featured on the cover of the book. There will also be the pretty comfy armchair, instructions for which are included in the book.

I can’t go outside with no clothes on!

I hope to make her friend – Alfie who, together with his wardrobe of clothes, is also featured in the book.

Lavender Cable Cardigan

Whilst my first love is dressmaking, I can also knit. I prefer to use Double Knitting yarn and patterns that have texture in the form of cables. I needed a Lilac/Lavender cardigan to wear with some of my dresses and shirts. Having checked the internet was unable to find anything suitable so purchased some yarn in exactly the right colour, got out my needles and started knitting.

Double Knit Cabled Cardigan

I had previously made this particular pattern using a Cream coloured yarn but the end result was not particularly pleasing – also the garment had turned out too big. After a time of contemplating what to do with the cardigan, it was donated but not before I made notes on the pattern for the next iteration.

For the Lavender version I have used the next size down which is still plenty big enough and also shortened the sleeves (I must have particularly short arms!).

Lavender Cardigan

The result does not look especially nice on the mannequin but does look good when worn with one of my dresses and after all that was the whole purpose of the exercise.

Whilst I do enjoy the knitting it is a much slower process to produce a garment. I would like to make some cardigans with jersey or ‘knitted’ fabrics that would be so much quicker to produce.

I have patterns for several and will put them on my ‘to do’ list for the Autumn.

Re-cycled Mules

In the past I have purchased White Waffle cotton mules from The White Company. After several years of wear and washing they have disintegrated until there was very little remaining of the fabric uppers. However, the embossed plastic soles were still good.

Here was a great opportunity to re-cycle.

I unpicked the uppers, the foam insoles, bias binding trim and fabric insoles that I then used to draft paper patterns for both the uppers and the fabric sole liners.

Using a fat quarter of my favourite Teal coloured cotton print I made new uppers and binding. It was a chance to make some lattice quilting on the upper and provide some extra padding underfoot.

Re-cycled Mules

The mules went together very easily and quickly and I am very pleased with my new footwear. Now I just need to locate the other old pair of White Waffle cotton mules and re-cycle them.

Classic Cowl neck Top

Hot on the heels of the successful Bold floral ‘Scarlett’,

Scarlett by pattyboo
Bold Floral “Scarlett”

I quickly made another.

I had some fine, very drapey viscose jersey that I had purchased from The Textile Centre sometime ago that I thought would be an ideal candidate for this pattern. I was right!

The only change to the pattern as previously made was to turn up a narrow hem on the sleeves and top stitch into place. After several attempts to have the same finish to the bodice hem, I gave up and simply left it raw – this jersey does not fray so why try to enforce a hem?

Teal “Scarlett”

A plain top is such a versatile garment and is something that I need to add into my wardrobe in the future. But first I want to make up some of the gorgeous prints in my fabric stash!

Bold Floral Scarlett

Readers of my blog will know that I have been searching for my ideal Cowl Neck top/dress pattern for some time. I have already made two versions of the Prima pattern but not been completely satisfied, the search continued.

SCARLETT by Pattyboo

Purely by chance, I returned to the pattyboo site to browse their patterns. Pattyboo is a German Pattern company and as I do not speak any German, I use the translation option to read about the patterns. This is what they said about ‘Scarlett’:-

The pattyboo waterfall shirt ”Scarlett“ is an elegant cowl neck shirt. The cascading neckline creates a sleek feminine feel and flatters the décolleté. 

The pattern contains:

  • all of the pattern pieces in sizes DE 32-54 / UK 6-28 / US 4-26
  • variations: short sleeves, half sleeve, 3/4 sleeve and long sleeve
  • measurements in cm/inch, as well as sewing instructions.
  • Pattern and video tutorial for an elegant waterfall shirt. This basic part can be worn very well on different occasions, by the cowl neck looks it to both pants and skirts very chic and can be combined under a blazer as well as casually to the leather jacket. You van sew it with long or short sleeves or combine itwith hem bands. So get to the sewing machine, learn to sew and get started right away with this great pattern for a waterfall shirt with which you can make you or a loved one a pleasure. The video makes it easy to sew a cowl neckline. Learning to sew is fun and the result is guaranteed to succeed.

All the written instructions are in German but there is a sewalong video that I watched. Whilst watching, I prepared my own personal detailed instructions for how to construct a ¾ sleeve version.

Poly Crepe Stretch Jersey Floral Print

I used 2 metres of L/Weight Poly Crepe Stretch Jersey Floral Print  at £4.70/metre from cheapesmaterialsuk – an ebay seller that I have used in the past.

The construction of this top was super-easy. In less than 1 hour I had completed the top. As my overlocker was still threaded with Jade thread, instead I used my sewing machine and the ‘lightning’ stitch for the construction. The only changes that I made were to reduce the length of the bodice by 2 inches and add a cuff of approximately 1 inch to the sleeves. This latter is now my preferred method for finishing sleeves as it means I can adjust the length if they are too short and it is also provides a good clean way to finish the sleeve without having to use the twin needle.

Scarlett version 1

I was so pleased with this new pattern that I almost immediately cut out and stitched another version using a plain Jade viscose jersey. More about that in another post.

Sequinned Lace Dress

This project that took so long to complete. It is the dress for which I made the wearable toile featured in an earlier post. The dress is made using re-embroidered and sequinned lace over a matching Satin lining both of which were bought from Fabricland, Salisbury branch.

Front Bodice – careful motif placement!

I laid out the lace so that I could identify the major motifs in the design and decide on placement. In order to ensure that the motifs were centred correctly on the bodice I traced off the front bodice onto folded paper so that I had a full pattern. This enabled me to centre up the main motif and also, very important, ensure that there was no flower exactly over the apex of my bust.

I cut the exact same patterns from the satin and mounted the lace onto its corresponding piece. Construction was quite straight forward.

Back Bodice, nb beautiful lapped zip insertion

I finally finished the centre back zip insertion for which I used my favourite lapped insertion method with a hand-picked final stitching.

To add a little extra feature, I machined the hem of the lining using a ‘scallop’ stitch.

I had hoped to get the dress completed in time to take to the retreat but it was not to be. Instead I wore the Iced Rose Scuba Velvet Jodi dress – that’s me third from the left in the front row.

KB Sewing Retreat, May 2019

Still,now I have a fancy new dress, just waiting for a party or function to attend so that I can wear it.

Lace Dress – waiting for the right party!

Frida Kahlo Dress

I have long been an admirer of the flamboyant Frida. She had an unmistakable style which I personally reflect in some ways in the unsubtle prints of my clothing.

Frida Kahlo de Rivera

Frida Kahlo de Rivera was a Mexican artist who painted many portraits, self-portraits and works inspired by the nature and artifacts of Mexico.

When visiting the Malvern Quilt Show I was fortunate enough to come across some Frida printed cotton fabric. I bought 3 metres at £15 per metre with the intention of making a full gathered skirt. Thinking about it later, I changed my mind. Due to ‘wonky’ hip issues I decided that a pinafore/sun dress where the garment is supported from the shoulders would be a much better use of this fabulous fabric.

Frida La Catrina in Dark Marine Blue by Alexander Henry

I used my standard bodice pattern with the scoop neckline (as used in the bold appliqué corduroy pinafore dress) with a box pleated skirt. The pleats are lined up to coincide with the body darts and side seams of the bodice and there are pockets in the side seams.

Front Bodice under construction
Back Bodice under Construction

The bodice is lined with Teal satin (remnants from the lace over satin dress) and I included a ‘facing’ around the neckline, just in case the lining flipped out.

Fab-u-lous Frida Dress- Front view
Fab-u-lous Frida – back view

I am delighted with this dress with only one slight niggle and that is that most of the figures are hidden inside the pleats at the front of the skirt. However, when I sit down and the pleats spread open, the figures will be revealed so perhaps it is a good thing – a little surprise.

The Gerbera Mini Crossbody Bag – by Blue Calla Sewing Patterns

The Gerbera Crossbody bag is a FREE pattern and can also be made as a companion wristlet to the Daisy Cross Body bag. It has a feature centre panel where you can focus a small piece of your favourite fabric, a gusset and a few pleats along the bottom. You can make the Gerbera as either a wristlet or a mini cross body bag. The Gerbera has one interior zippered pocket but you could easily add more! The measurements are width: 10.5 inches, height: 6 inches, depth: 4 inches

Gerbera Cross Body Bag


Exterior fabric:1/2 yard, Lining fabric:1/2 yard

Interfacing:2 yards Fusible woven interfacing , 1/2 yard Fusible fleece

Notions and supplies:(1) 6-inch zipper (or longer, will be cut down)
(1) 10-inch zipper (or longer, will be cut down) 

For Cross Body versi.on:(2) 1” D-rings,(2) 1” capable swivel clasp
(1) 1” rectangle slide

For Wristlet version:(1) 1” D-ring, (1) 1 inch capable swivel clasp

I was able to use fabrics and notions from my stash for the first ‘trial’ make. Next time I might use a lighter weight fabric. This particular version is made using a 100% linen fabric that was donated. As I had some coordinating Cream satin piping to highlight the shaped top I decided to ignore the contrasting central panel. Instead I ‘fussy cut’ the Bird design from the printed fabric.

Gerbera as a Wristlet Pouch (front)

As I had sufficient fabric I made both the wristlet strap and the long cross body strap which is just long enough to go over the shoulder and tuck the bag neatly at one’s side.

Gerbera as a Cross Body Bag (reverse)

The bag has turned out well and there will definitely be more in the future as this is an ideal candidate to make as gifts for my sewing friends and relatives.

The Gerbera is very simple to make and relatively quick to construct. It will therefore be an ideal project for beginners to bag-making in this size or perhaps graded up to a larger-sized cross body bag.

Celine Zip Top Tote by Swoon Sewing Patterns

Those that follow my blog will know that in early May I attended the KB Sewing Retreat on the Isle of Wight. I was looking forward to the retreat as it would provide an opportunity of meeting again a few ladies that I had previously met on the Southampton Sewcial in August last year. It would also give me the the chance of some dedicated sewing time in the company of a group of avid stitchers!

I knew in advance that we were going to be making the Celine bag by Swoon patterns with the Pocket Supplement A from Chris W Designs.

Celine Bag by Swoon Patterns

The Celine is a handbag look with tote bag functionality, this is the perfect everyday bag. The top zipper keeps your belongings secure, and the closure straps provide a little added security while giving this bag its unique shape.

Pocket Supplement A from Chris W Designs

The Pocket Supplement A is perfect to use for adding extra pockets to the interior of your bag. With The Pocket Supplement A you create two large slip pockets, a pen pocket and a pleated pocket perfect for your sunglasses.

I had not made either of these patterns before and as I wanted this project to be extra special I visited Purple Stitches in Basingstoke and purchased all the fabrics required.

I had chosen Teal to be my main colour theme for the trip (clothing and project) and this fabric certainly fit the bill as it incorporates not only the Teal colour but several others as well so would be easy to choose complimentary prints/colours.

Outer Feature Fabric
Outer Side Gusset Panels Fabric

I was able to pick out a ‘low-volume’ print for the side panels and a Pale Orange/Blush picked from the outer print to be the contrast for the lining.

I ordered Nickel Silver hardware and metal zips with White tape from Sian for my accessories which also included the iron-on stabiliser and Bosal ® foam wadding.

We twelve ladies (no gentlemen on this occasion) were set up in a large room on the ground floor of the hotel with access to plenty of ironing stations. We spent Friday and Saturday cutting, pressing and sewing our bags with a ready supply of refreshments and lots of chat! Sian with her Mum, Jane, as ‘understudy’ was an excellent tutor, always swift to answer queries with a ready smile.

My Celine Bag

By the end of the two days I had an almost completed bag and had learnt a some new techniques to incorporate into my future bag making.

Outer Zip pocket on my Celine Bag
View from above of my Celine Bag

I have to say that although the finished project is OK, I am not in love with it. The bag took a long time to make (longer even than the companion carpet bag which I much prefer) and in the final analysis is not really ‘my kind of bag’ as it is rather too capacious for my needs. I don’t think that I will make this design again but if I do, I will use different fabrics. I need a more substantial outer fabric, combined with faux leather for the gusset as even with interfacing and foam in my opinion, the quilting cotton fabric used on this iteration is simply not ‘man enough’ for the job.

In the final analysis though, I had a great time, enjoyed the ‘holiday’, accommodation, location, project and most important of all – the company.