Hello Emery. I love you!


Emery Dress

Dear reader, I truly believe I’ve found ‘The One’!

Never in my wildest sewing dreams (and there have been some…!) did I ever think I would find a pattern that could result in a dress love-affair as perfect as this.

Emery Dress

It’s everything I wanted in a dress – feminine, figure flattering, yet modern and unfussy. The fabric is to die for: buttery, soft, and with a delicious weight to it. It’s a denim-linen mix from The Little Fabric Store – a gorgeous sewing haven on a cobbled lane in Louth. Thank goodness I bought big – there’s another autumn’s dress-worth left over.

In a short time, we’ve been through a lot together, Emery and I. As promised, I followed the FBA tutorial that was part of the Emery Sewalong. This was by far the best and most detailed tutorial I have found, with each step clearly explained. And it worked! FBA – flippin’ brilliant achievement!

Emery FBA

Emery FBA – white paper showing where room was added

I began with a size 8 pattern piece (US sizes, that is) and added 3cm. No sooner said than done, the ‘ladies’ found themselves in the comfort to which they deserve. However, the waist was too narrow so I graded up a size from the bust dart down to the waist and that did the trick. I seriously expected to end up with a heap of ill-fitting bodices on the road to perfection, but managed it in one, with a bit of unpicking and re-pinning.

Emery toile

Well the bust fits…

But as you can see, although it fitted well on the bust and waist, it was still too baggy around the ribs. So I went up a size at the bust and waist, and still had to take it in at the side seams. Confused? I still am! I’ve ended up with a fit that I’m happy with, but I wonder whether next time to start with a size 10 and see if it requires less fitting. Any thoughts?

Emery Dress

I didn’t want to hinder the drape of this gorgeous fabric so I omitted a lining, instead used bias binding on the waist seam for tidiness and to add strength. I finished the neckline with self-drafted facings.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a love affair – the highs of mastering an alteration, the lows of finding that it’s still not as perfect as I’d hope. Like any developing relationship there’s always a few issues to iron out. I’ve got a slight gape at the back of the neckline which I’ve found on other dresses I’ve made. I’m hoping to tackle it on the next version. But for now, I’m more than thrilled!



Moneta the Third

Leopard Moneta

At the risk of repeating myself – here’s another Moneta! Seriously, I’ve got to give up the easy stuff and crack on with developing my sewing skills. But it was too hard when this fab leopard print was in my stash purring to become a late summer dress.

Leopard Moneta

As usual, this is definitely my temporary favourite! The fabric was from the ever reliable and always unpredictable Simply Fabrics in Brixton. I love that you’re never more than a cat’s whisker away from animal print when fabric shopping in Brixton! There’s something about this feline number that gives me a spring in my step when I wear it…!

Next Up: The Emery Dress

I’m limbering up for a big one – The Emery Dress by Christine Haynes. It’s a classic, and I’ve seen so many lovely versions. I particularly covet this Christmas cracker by Paunnet and this gorgeous wool plaid one from Fancy Tiger Crafts.

The only trouble is, I’m yet to really get to grips with serious alterations. But I think I’m up to the challenge. This time, I’m going to have to make a full toile first to see – a true test of patience. I made a couple of dresses last year when I’d just got started that would have really benefitted from an FBA (full bust adjustment). I learned the hard way that the end results are always a little disappointing without a perfect fit. With an increase in confidence and a side order of extra patience, I think it’s time. It seems a bit bonkers to be nervous of a bit of snipping, doesn’t it?!

I’ve got some gorgeous denim linen from The Little Fabric Store in Louth (seen in the background). It’s quite a girly dress, with its fitted bodice and full skirt, so I figured an Autumn version in a denim linen mix would toughen it up a little.

Have you ever really stretched yourself with a make?

Oops! I did it again!

Is it wrong to love a pattern so much that you just want to make it over and over? I’ve just finished my third, yes third, Moneta. And there are still more to come! I wanted to show you my first version today. It doesn’t make me sound like the most intrepid of sewists, but everything about this pattern suits me down to the ground. The Moneta flatters a curvier figure, it’s quick to make, there’s no need to worry about fit, and it’s so darn comfortable to wear in our glorious British heatwave. I want one in every colour!

Polka Dot Moneta

I’m rapidly becoming a Colette Patterns devotee. Apart from liking their aesthetic, I seem to fall within their standard proportions for sizing.  The Laurel dress and the Beignet skirt both fit straight out of the envelope with no need for alterations. This came as a relief after my early foray into commercial patterns last year. Unlike high street fashion sizing, which has increased in line with the population’s increasing waistline, for consistency’s sake commercial pattern companies have stuck to their original 1940-1950s sizing statistics. These are rather unforgiving on a modern figure (unless you have a perfect hourglass shape with a waspish waist).  As a newish sewist, I found it hard to get the fit right and lacked the skills and confidence to tackle serious alterations. Since then I’ve mainly used indie patterns and have found their use of ‘modern’ sizing much more suited to my shape.

I have also learned that pattern companies specify the cup size they design for. Colette Patterns draft for a C cup, while the big commercial companies draft for a B cup. So if you are larger than a B cup you should use a high bust measurement to select the right size, and then alter to fit with a Full Bust Adjustment (FBA). It’s a shame it took a year to figure that out. So that’s my next major challenge. Anyway, I digress…none of this is relevant to the Moneta, and that’s partly why I love it so much! It’s homemade fast fashion at its sassiest.

Polka Dot Moneta

The polka dot version was the first of my many Monetas. I went for the three-quarter sleeve. The fabric was from Simply Fabrics in Brixton. I fell in love with the colour. As with many of the fabrics in this fabulous place, it was sample for a High Street store. No further details known! I snapped up a couple of metres, then panicked and sent Mr S-S-L back the next day for another metre.

I found the pattern really easy to follow. The only fiddly bit was sewing the gathered skirt to the bodice while feeding the clear elastic tape under the needle. I don’t have an overlocker so all the sewing was done on my sewing machine using a zig zag stitch, regular foot and ballpoint needle. I had avoided stretch fabrics thinking that only an overlocker could handle them. Not the case! I’m sure a walking foot would ensure an even better finish.

I can’t promise that I’ve made my last Moneta. I’ve filled a huge gap in my wardrobe with smart, yet casual, comfortable dresses.

Which patterns have you loved so much that you’ve made multiple versions?

A Liberty print Belcarra

Belcarra in Liberty MitziGreetings, fellow fabric-fanciers! I’ve got a Liberty print treat in store for you today.

I’m shortly to embark on a more time consuming project, more news of which in my next post, so in true Blue Peter style here’s one I made earlier.

Imagine my surprise/delight when I received two metres of my all-time favourite Liberty Tana Lawn in Mitzi from Mr S-S-L in my Christmas stocking. I tucked it away for a rainy day, too precious was it to fritter away. I’m only used to hacking into £3 per metre bargains afterall, so I had to be sure I could do the good stuff justice!

BelcarraIt’s amazing how far two metres will go. I’d already made a Laurel shift dress by Colette Patterns to wear at a friend’s wedding (to be blogged soon) and had a little bit left over, which I knew would be perfect for a simple top. So I started looking around and, as if by magic, Sewaholic released the Belcarra. I knew that the simplicity of the pattern would really show off the gorgeous print.

They say the first cut is the deepest. No kidding! I was terrified when I began cutting out, but now I know why people rave about the quality of Liberty Tana Lawn. It is light and fine, yet it really holds its shape and is easy to handle.

This was my first Sewaholic pattern. I found the instructions really clear, yet I had problems attaching the cuffs to the sleeves on this top and the wearable toile (of course I had to practice first!). There’s obviously something I’m doing wrong with the assembly to have two pieces not fitting together neatly. I ended up with a lot of fabric on the sleeve to ease into the cuff. Thankfully it’s concealed under the arm, so no tears were shed.

The overall shape of the blouse is contoured to emphasise a curvy, feminine shape. In fact Sewaholic patterns are designed for those with a typical ‘pear-shape’. Whilst I’m not short of a curve or two, I did end up taking in the seams around the hips to slim it down a little.  I’m so happy with the final version: it’s such a flattering shape. And the options are endless. This won’t be the last one.

You might spot this fabric elsewhere on Sew South London;  I love it so much I’ve conserved every spare shred and fibre!

I’m just wondering what Father Christmas might bring this year……

Woodland Stroll Cape in Red

What’s the first thing you think of making on a sweltering hot day? An autumn cape! Was it a coincident that the bedtime book of the moment was Little Red Riding Hood? I genuinely didn’t twig until it was made!

Woodland Stroll CapeI had been craving a cape for the past two winters, but hadn’t got as far as scouring the shops for one. When I saw this Woodland Stroll Cape by Oliver & S, it was love at first sight. This is the first item of outer-wear I’ve made, and it was so simple – just three pattern pieces plus lining.

Red Woodland Stroll Cape

I toyed with making it in a sensible, work-friendly colour, but in the end it had to be red. What’s more gloomy and depressing in the depths of winter than a sea of dark-clad commuters? I found this synthetic Melton online from Calico Laine and bought matching polyester lining. I don’t usually buy fabric online as I much prefer to shop with my hands. I was trying to manage my expectations over the colour, so was very pleasantly surprised when it arrived. This was another super-quick make, which was just as well as I had the denim beignet hanging over me!

Red Woodland Stroll CapeI’m wearing it here over my striped Coco by Tilly and the Buttons. It’s surprisingly warm to wear. Well, not that surprising considering it’s synthetic on synthetic! Am I the only person in South London praying for a cold snap?

A Denim Beignet

Of all the items I’ve made of late, my Beignet skirt by Colette Patterns makes me the proudest. Despite the disasters that befell it, I think it looks really quite professional. But I’m not sure I love it! I mean, I love how it looks, but I’m not sure I love how it looks on me. You see, I’m not really a skirt person, yet something about the flattering lines of this skirt seduced me. I was mostly inspired by this gorgeous denim number by Tassadit of Rue des Renards.

A Denim Beignet

I had a metre or so denim left over from a Colette Laurel dress (unblogged, as yet) so this seemed like a good use for it. There’s something so satisfying about sewing in denim: It’s so well-behaved.

I have to confess that I’ve had this pattern for a few months but, as I’d been getting my quick fix from sewing garments in stretch fabrics, I was a little daunted by it. I was worried that the final skirt might not be very flattering due to the high waist (and my post-baby lack of one), and I couldn’t face making a toile of all seven panels and twelve button holes!

So I planned to fit it as I sewed, and it kind of worked. It feels a little wider around the hem than the pencil fit it’s supposed to be, but if I’d altered it too much it would have lost the style-lines created by the close fitting high waist.


A Denim Beignet

I used topstitch thread as decorative finish and to strengthen the seams and I found the buttons on my first visit to MacCulloch & Wallis, just off Oxford Street. What a treasure trove! I lined the skirt with a polka dot cotton lawn, and used denim for the facings to help it keep its shape. I omitted the pockets as in-seam pockets tend to add bulk where you least want it. I’ve also not added the belt hoops as it looked a little too cluttered with a belt on too. Do you think it needs them?

So where did it all go wrong? Well, I accidentally snipped through the lining when I was trimming seams and had to fix it with bondaweb. Then I wasn’t sure how the length would suit me, so I had to wait until it was finished to decide to shorten it to above the knee, by which time the lining was too long and needed taking up too. That’s why the buttons go right down to the hem! All of this could have been avoided if I’d used the shorten/lengthen line on the pattern before I cut the fabric. Hmmm, the pitfalls of not being able to try before you buy!

Buttons from MacCulloch & Wallis

Buttons from MacCulloch & Wallis

Overall, it’s taken me three weeks from pattern cutting to finishing. It’s probably the most complex garment I’ve made so far, and a testament to finding fifteen minutes here and there to sew the next stage. I’m ridiculously proud of it, but I only hope I’ll wear it as much as it deserves.