Wedding Guest Outfit – 1st Garment

After so much procrastination, at last the first garment of the proposed outfit for the family wedding is completed. I used the KWIK SEW pattern no K3736 with just a couple of minor changes.

For this iteration I used the Cerise ‘linen-look’ fabric that I had purchased from Fabricland at £4.59 per metre.

As I had made the pattern before, see and or here

The minor changes were to lengthen by 1 inch, ignore the fold-back cuffs, take in at the side seams by a total of 2 inches and this time I also top-stitched all around the outer edge of the jacket. I used two strands both threaded through a 100 top-stitching needle and straight stitch length 4.

Other than that there is not a great deal to say. Once again I am pleased with the final result which I think will co-ordinate well with either of the two dresses that I plan to make.

The reason for two dresses is the ‘Great British Weather’. I shan’t know until the morning of the day what the temperature is like. In the past I have attended Ladies Day at Royal Ascot which is in June. One year I wore a floaty dress and was very warm, another year a wool suit and was very cold!

Tutorial for Drunken Birds Patchwork Block

This is a great setting design using Drunkard’s Path blocks that I first discovered using Google and pinterest. I used a set of Sissix dies to cut several sets to make co-ordinating pairs of bird blocks. I found that the lozenge piece of scrap when cutting arcs for the wings was ideal to cut in half and use as the head. The block can be stitched either by hand or machine although I found it easiest to applique the head piece by machine using a narrow zig-zag stitch.

Equipment: Sissix dies or card templates, scissors, hand sewing needle and thread or sewing machine and Microtex 70 or 80 needle and thread. Iron.

Materials: background fabric – print 1,  wings and head – print 2 , for shoulders and tail – complimentary print 3 .

Cutting plan:

3 x ¼ circle pieces in background print 1, 

1 x arc piece in background print 1

2 x arc pieces in print 2 for wings

1 x 1/2 lozenge shape in print 2 for head

1 x arc in print 3 for shoulder

1 x ¼ circle in print 3 for tail


1.Establish centre points of head piece print 2 and one of the 1/4 circles print 1

2.Place headpiece onto ¼ circle, lining up the centre points and raw edges of the curve with the straight edge of the head piece. Applique stitch in place (use zig-zag or blanket stitch).

3.Take the shoulder piece (arc shape) of print 3 and matching centres with the 1/4 circle, pin and stitch taking a ¼ seam.

3.Fold each of the remaining 6 pieces in half to establish the centre points pin and stitch together to make the other 3 portions of the block. I usually stitch the wing arcs print 2 to 1/4 circles print 1 next, and finally the tail arc print 3 to the  1/4 circle print 1

4.If stitching on the machine you can chain piece these together. Press the seam allowances away from the 1/4 circles and towards the arc sections of the block.

5.Stitch the 4 portions of the block together according to the plan to make a complete Bird block. Press the joining seams open and flat.

6. Enjoy your completed block!


The 4 P’s

Planning, Prioritising, Purchasing & Procrastination

Now that I am well and truly back home and the weather has improved so that we are enjoying a very late Spring, I have to make my sewing plans.

I have been delayed from my first love of dressmaking as I insisted on completing the quilt top in memory of my Caribbean cruise. But now that is done, it is back to dressmaking.

Planning. I have lost weight since last Summer so several of the makes no longer fit. I hate making alterations – I would much rather make an entirely new garment. I have sold a few of last year’s dresses and have plenty of ideas, patterns and fabrics to make new ones – but which ones?

Prioritising. I have a family wedding to attend in just three week’s time – I cannot wear the same dress as last year’s wedding for two reasons a) it no longer fits(!) and b) the wedding will be attended by the same family members. I have a certain reputation to maintain – if I attended the wedding wearing the same dress, rumours would start that I was feeling unwell!

As my readers will have concluded, I enjoy wearing bright and colourful clothing. So, for this wedding my colour choice is Cerise Pink. I have the fascinator and will make a little jacket in the same colour.

Purchasing. The fascinator hat was purchased new from The British Heart Foundation charity shop in Winchester. The linen-look fabric for the jacket was bought from Fabricland in Salisbury. I plan to make another version of my ‘hacked’ jacket from KwikSew 3736.


Whilst the design of the dress will be a simple fitted bodice with an almost circular skirt (from the Lady Skater Dress),

the fabric choice for the dress is almost limitless.

Procrastination. I have been buying lots of jersey fabric. Whilst at Fabricland I fell in love with this ponte roma that coordinates very well with the Cerise ‘linen’ for the jacket but the ladies of the sewing house group deemed that it was not sophisticated enough for a wedding.

Alternatives that I have purchased:


Scuba from Fabric Styles

Although the floral print would be fine unfortunately on closer inspection I found that the colour in the tassels print clashes slightly with the Cerise ‘linen’. Finally, the ladies were unanimous in their selection of this fine jersey from CheapestFabricsUK who sell through eBay.

I have to agree that this delicate print is fabulous. I only hope that I can do it justice. To take advantage of the great drape qualities, I may well opt to make the wrap front bodice- a hack of the Dartmouth top from Cashmerette.

Other plans were inspired by a visit to the Joules store on board ship during my recent cruise holiday. I was particularly taken with these striped jersey tops.

 I could use the Fraser sweatshirt pattern from Sewaholic – or draft my own dividing lines for the different prints. 

From an eBay seller I bought some lovely ponte roma in White with a narrow Navy stripe and plan to combine with some floral print as a yoke across the bodice and sleeves.


The floral ponte roma came from the CheapestFabricUK.

I also plan to re-fashion the Neenah shift dress (now too big) that I made with the Navy/White version of Ponte Roma and use some of this bold-coloured floral printed fabric (purchased from Minerva Crafts) for the yoke.


So that is just 3 garments – possibly 4 that I plan to make in the near future.

If I can just stop procrastinating and get on with sewing the outfit for the wedding then I can pursue the exciting projects that I have planned for the Summer. I will write and tell you of my progress and finished garments next month.



144 Drunkard’s Path Blocks

This is just a quick post now that I have returned from my Caribbean cruise adventure. Whilst away, Catherine and I managed to complete the stitching (by hand!) of the 144 blocks that will go to make up her Caribbean Quilt. I laid the blocks out arranged according to the different prints – they are looking good.

Catherine now has the task of putting the blocks together, adding a border and completing the making of the quilt.

Meantime, I have about 20 of my own Bird blocks to stitch on the sewing machine.

Let’s see which of us completes their quilt first!

The Ultimate Travel Bag – Nearly Finished!

Phew! I had intended to take photographs as I worked may way through the construction of this bag which I have to say has been a labour of ‘love/hate’! However, the desire to get on and stitch through to the next stage meant that I totally forgot to take a breath – and a photo.

The process of construction is complicated but as with all Annie Unrein’s projects, the instructions both written and video are comprehensive and do help to make up this project. There were a few hiccups along the way – nothing to do with the way of the instructions or the project itself – much more to do with my desire to change the sizing and also to use materials that were to hand rather than the correct products as per the materials list.

But the bag is almost complete – I could use it as it is now but there are a few things that still need to be addressed. Firstly I have not bound the inside seams. This is not earth-shattering and I will definitely be hand stitching a binding to the internal seams once I return from my trip but for now it would be another time-consuming activity for which I simply do not have time. Secondly, at time of writing I have not made the pad for the carrying strap. I will sit down and make that tomorrow afternoon as I feel that it is an essential part of the carrying strap. Thirdly, because I used a thick heavyweight drill fabric for the straps and they are filled with cotton webbing, my machine really struggled to stitch the carrying strap ends. I have brass rivets and plan to install them before I leave. If not, I shall just have to be careful with weight distribution and hope that my stitching holds up.

Notes on construction:

The bag is made in sections. This is great as the front,back and side panels are constructed with their pockets both inside and out before the bag is put together.

Front Panel Prepared with Zip & Slip Pocket

Slip Mesh Pockets inside the Front Panel

Zipped Mesh Pocket inside the Back Panel

The straps and handles are reinforced by the insertion of webbing. I have not used this method before, hence my use of the incorrect webbing. I will certainly use this method again in the future and have already ordered the nylon webbing to use in other bag handles and straps.

The use of Bosal ® wadding helps to make the bag stand upright. Additional stitching helps to compress the foam and makes it easier to stitch the component parts together.

Below a few more photographs that I did remember to take during the final stages of construction.

One side of the side strip attached to the Back panel

Back strap with Velcro to slide over Trolley

Preparing to Stitch the Second Panel to the Side Strip

The bag measures 49 cms across x 38 cms high x 17 cms deep at its widest part and weighs in at just 800 grams. Thus I have achieved the objective which was to make a bag that fit within the dimensions quoted by the Airline and weighs considerably less than the carry-on bag that I almost purchased from Antler.

Construction of the bag was a steep learning curve. I love the end result but don’t think that I will be making another anytime soon.



Sew Sturdy: The Ultimate Travel Bag by Annie Unrein

Those of you that follow my blog will know that I am very excited. I am going on a Fly/Cruise to the Caribbean! There has been a flurry of activity over the past couple of months. I have gradually assessed the wardrobe requirements for two weeks in the Caribbean climate – very different to what we are experiencing here in Hampshire UK at present! It has seemed a little strange to be thinking of cotton tops and dresses, cut off trousers and last but not least – evening wear as the snow gently flutters passed the window!

As this is to be a Fly/Cruise I need to be aware of weight restrictions for my luggage. I checked the allowances for hold and cabin. The hold baggage can be up to 23 kgs but the cabin must not exceed 5kgs and be contained within a case measuring no more than 55cms x 40cmsx 20cms. ‘That’s OK’ I thought, ‘I can buy a small case to fit those limits’. How wrong I was! The smallest case that I could find was great size-wise but oh dear, it weighs in at 2.2 kgs! That does not leave much scope for the contents. So…. I am making my case using the Sew Sturdy: Ultimate Travel Bag pattern by Annie Unrein.

I have previously made the Sew Sturdy: Sewing Organiser Bag and the Essential Back Pack by Annie which turned out to be exactly what is says on the tin – sew sturdy.

I had hoped to be able to buy some more Linen/Cotton blend fabric from New Threads that would match the handbag that I intend to take with me – but unfortunately having visited the shop, discovered that the last of the roll had been sold – probably to me! Instead I purchased 2 metres of a beautiful patchwork print Linen by French General together with coordinating quilting cottons.

French General Outer Fabric

Lining Fabric

Combined with the cost of Annie Soft & Stable wadding, mesh for pockets, nickel hardware, zips and thread the total cost is in the region of £75 – but hey, this travel bag is going to be unique and I am sure will see a great deal of travel over its lifetime so cost per use will workout to be inconsequential.

This morning whilst the snow converts the landscape to a chocolate box picture, I have cut out all the pieces ready to start quilting this afternoon. I will keep you posted on progress……

Second time Success – The Lady Skater Dress in Ponte Roma

After the previous iteration – a non-fitting toile – of this Lady Skater dress I have adjusted the pattern and intended to make another version of the dress. I WILL have a Lady Skater dress in my wardrobe!

Adjustments made to the pattern were:-

1)Add 1 inch to side seams at bust,

2)re-draw neckline by bringing in shoulder seams at neck edge by 1 inch,

3)re-draw armscye to make shoulders narrower,

4)Add 1 inch to underarm seam on sleeve to match additional width added to bodice,

5)make sway back adjustment,

6)add 1½ inches to the side seams at waist,

7)add 1½ inches to side seams of skirt

8)add 6 inches to the length of the skirt.

These are all fairly minor adjustments but in the final analysis made a world of difference.

I used 3 metres (total cost £15.00) a lovely Snakeskin print Ponte Roma purchased in March last year from M.Rosenberg & Son at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC, Birmingham. Although the colour appears Black/Grey/White in the photographs it is actually various shades from Olive Green thru’ to Ivory. Even after lengthening the skirt by 6 inches, I still had some fabric left over – possibly enough to make a cap-sleeved top to wear with the Cream circle skirt.

So, onto the construction. I mostly used the overlocker for stitching the dress. At first fitting I reduced the length of the back bodice. The disadvantage of a very upright posture is that I always have to make a sway back adjustment which can sometimes lead to strange centre back seams but fortunately for this dress I had cut the back bodice on the fold. The fact that the waistline is now cut slightly on the bias is lost in the intricacies of the print. I also graded away some of the length on the front bodice. I felt that the sleeves were a little too short and added a narrow double-folded cuff of 1¼ inches. The centre back seam of the skirt and top-stitching of the neck band were straight-stitched on the sewing machine. For the hem on the skirt I used Sian of Kittenish Behaviour’s suggestion: Having run the hemline through the overlocker I then turned the scant ¼ inch to the wrong side and top stitched with a single row of straight stitching.

The dress has gone together very well and now fits perfectly. Notice how great it looks with my ‘feature’ wide belt.

  It was not until I tried on the completed dress and ‘swished’ about in front of the mirror that I noticed how I had achieved a lovely chevron effect at the side seams of the skirt and that the pattern matched thru’ from front bodice to front skirt. A complete accident!

Not quite wearable Toile – The Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo

I regularly follow several sewing vlogs and a design that has appeared many times is The Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo. I could see that it was my sort of style so would give it a try.


To be fair, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for the dress as I made my first version using some thick heavy scuba crepe that I bought from Cheapest Fabrics UK on eBay.

When I opened the parcel of this fabric I was immediately disappointed. It is very heavy and ‘spongy’ with not a great deal of stretch. The colour on my screen at home made it look more sort of Duck Egg Blue rather than the Grey it is called in the description box. I admit that buying fabric over the internet can be a lottery and on this occasion my £19.80 investment was definitely not for a winning ticket.

However, I decided to go ahead and make up the pattern as a wearable toile, just to see how it turned out.

According to the measurement chart I needed to cut a size 8 and add 1½ inches to each side seam at the waist point to allow for my chubby mid-section. I lengthened the skirt by 6 inches but apart from that made no alterations to the pattern.

The dress was stitched on the overlocker using a narrow seam. At first fitting I could see immediately that the top was too wide for my shoulders. The neckline was quite low but that could be remedied with a neckband. I needed to reduce the length at centre back of the bodice to allow for my sway back and remove the additional length at centre front that I had added to account for my bust. The sleeve length was fine but the biggest problem was how it squashed my bust!

This pattern is a little different to the usual in that you are instructed to measure your HIGH bust rather than your full bust. Mine measured 1 inch less than the size chart so it should have been OK – but it most definitely is not. At this stage there was nothing I could do as the sleeves had been inserted and the bodice side seams/sleeve seams sewn. So … I continued with the construction of the dress. The hems on the sleeves and skirt are stitched with a twin needle stitch length 3.5. At final fitting I found that the mid-section was close-fitting but the length of the skirt and the neck binding were fine.

The Lady Skater by Kitschy Coo

I have made adjustments to the pattern and will make this dress again in a finer jersey fabric (probably a Ponte Roma)  that has more stretch. I am sure it will then be a good fit – both to my figure and my preferred dress style.

Cactus Print Scuba Plantain Top

The Plantain Top by Deer & Doe is currently my ‘go to’ pattern for simple tunic-style tops.

This one is made from a delightful cactus print on Scuba that I bought from Fabric Styles. I purchased just 1 metre at £4.50 and the fabric is so soft and silky that it will be a delight to wear.

I cut the sleeves ¾ length and then laid the front and back bodice pieces on the remainder of fabric to cut with a centre back length of 23 inches. The neckline has again been re-shaped by raising the centre front by 2 inches, making a gentle curve that is slightly wider and grading the neck points accordingly. I cut a neckband piece 2½ inches wide.

For construction I used the overlocker which is now threaded up with White. The neckband went on like a dream and the hems of the sleeves and bodice are twin-needle stitched in place. This top sews up in less than an hour.

Whilst in a ‘frivolous’ mood I have also purchased some pretty plimsolls – they are really Caribbean appropriate!