Laurel in Liberty


Hola Stitchers! While I’m beavering away on my next make, I thought I’d catch up on a couple of makes from earlier in the year. May I introduce….. a Liberty print Laurel! This Colette pattern must be on every novice sewist’s list. It was on mine, and came in my Christmas stocking, courtesy of my fab sister-in-law, Lou. Regular readers might recall that this Liberty Tana Lawn in Mitzi has already made it’s blog debut in the form of a lovely Belcarra. I carefully conserved every shred of this gorgeous fabric, and managed to get a Laurel and a Belcarra out of 2 metres (with enough left over for rag dolly dresses).

Colette Laurel

Being a bit of a chicken with sharp scissors and expensive fabric, I first made a toile of my Laurel, and then a version in denim (to be blogged). I was pleased to find that it was a good fit with no alterations required, but wasn’t entirely happy with the flare of the shift dress. So I wielded my French Curve and narrowed the fit of the skirt slightly from the hips to the hem. I know the point of a shift dress is to have a loose fit, but the original toile make me feel like I was wearing an oversized girl’s nightgown.

Colette Laurel

One of the most useful aspects of writing a blog is having the opportunity to reflect on the garment in question and to have a good look at the photos. Let’s just say I’m less happy with it now. And I loved this dress pre-blog. I was really proud of it when I made it and continue to love the fabric, which I had lined with cotton voile. I am assuming that taking the width out of the dress has resulting in the fabric pulling a little across my stomach, enhancing it rather than flattering it! I’m not sure I like the straight lines of a shift dress, which I know are intended to skim over the waist. Perhaps leaving the extra fabric in might have resulted in a more flattering cut? Am I being too harsh? I guess I’m just learning more about my own body type and understanding how different silhouettes flatter and enhance. Perhaps I’ve met my match in Mlle Emery. She’s definitely a girl’s girl!


The Shrinking Violet Emery

Word of Sew South London’s sewing exploits appears to have travelled far and wide. At least as far as my neighbour, Felicity’s house! Thanks to the serendipity of sewing in South London, I have been loaned a new assistant!  I’m no model, so I thought I’d put her to work to wearing my newest Emery dress.

Emery Dress

As you know if you’ve visited before, I was quite taken with my first Emery Dress. I literally couldn’t wait to get started on another, not least because I’d done the hard work getting a good fit. I was considering making up the bodice in a larger size to see if I could get a better fit with fewer alterations, but after wearing it to work for the day the consensus was that the fit was pretty good. So this is the same mix of alterations: a FBA, a waistline graded to the next size up, then 1cm pinched out of both side seams. To avoid the gaping neckline at the back, I increased the back neck darts by 0.5mm to take into account a mild case of round shoulders. Family legend has it that it’s an evolutionary result of living on the North Sea coastline, where one has to brace oneself against the North Sea breeze!

The dress form has definitely made my job easier. She’s a good size match, although I had to pimp her up with a padded bra and two pairs of bedsocks. It’s fantastic to be able to be able to see the garment on someone of the same size, to fiddle with details and see where the fit could be better. I’m just not sure I’m brave enough to sleep in the same room as her yet!

Emery Dress neckline

We need to talk about this fabric! It was another Simply Fabrics find, although this time I found that the print had a huge flaw through it when I got it home. I’ve placed it on the back skirt panel so it’s not really noticeable. However, it might be more of an issue when the remaining fabric becomes a pair of Ultimate Trousers! The fabric does feel like curtains, but it has a lycra stretch to it, so it must have been manufactured with clothing in mind. It’s rather stiff to wear – on the upside it holds its shape beautifully, however, such is the rustle, you can hear me coming from 100 metres away. Put it this way, I feel bullet-proof when I wear it!

Emery dress

With such a wild print, the fabric is quite forgiving. Rather than drafting facings, as I did for the last Emery, I thought I’d finish the neckline with bias binding along the lines of the Belcarra top. Whilst the binding went on fine, I don’t like the visible stitching. I prefer a cleaner finish on such a smart dress. I can live with it this time as you can’t really see it amongst the print, but I would definitely add facings next time. The weight of the fabric also caused problems with the invisible zip, which ended up towards the ‘visible’ end of the zip spectrum!

Emery Dress

I adore the print and colour. This dress is a lot of fun; not the demure number my first Emery turned out to be. I guess I’ll be mostly wearing it for work. It’s a bit loud for pushchair-pushing, even in South London, don’t ya think?!

Now, about my glamorous assistant: she needs a name. Any suggestions?




Knitted Prawns and the Slow Burn Socks

Help me, sewing chums! I am spinning dangerously out of control in a vortex of fabric and patterns, pins and needles! I wouldn’t normally attempt several patterns at once, but a recent record-breaking haul from Simply Fabrics and the arrival of several new patterns through the post/printer has left me in a bit of a tizz. I can barely stay awake at work, such is the fervour of round-the-clock stitching.

Having fallen so hard for the Emery, I’m busy with my second one in an eye-watering floral print. The only thing is, it feels a bit like upholstery fabric so I may end up looking like a 1970s toilet-roll cover. Watch this space! Thankfully I bought 3 metres, and as I was mulling over the fabric weight problem, it came to me: they’d make a perfect pair of trousers! So, no sooner said than done, Sew Over It’s Ultimate Trouser pattern found it’s way out of my printer.

Last, but not least, I had been eyeing up a number of gorgeous Deer & Doe Sureau dresses on the interwebs, with a view to using up my remaining stash of chambray and denim-linen. I also really want to make one in a Liberty Tana Lawn I found when Simply Fabrics confounded all expectation with a few bolts of Liberty (that was an expensive lunchbreak, eh Lou?!). My favourites (again) come courtesy of Paunnet: here in gorgeous doe print fabric, and here in another similarly gorgeous print.

So, while I get busy I’m going to add a few posts of other recent makes. But before I do, the arrival of autumn weather brings the subject of winter sports crafts to the fore…

I know, I know, it’s a sewing blog. But you can’t take your sewing machine to the pub or on the train, or get cosy on the sofa with it on your lap. So here’s my solution for crafty fingers…. socks!

A good friend of mine, Sarah, has been knitting socks like a demon this year and made some beautiful pairs for my girls. They look so gorgeous in the variegated yarn that I couldn’t resist. It may be a while til the first one is done, so I’m blogging it now to commit to finishing a whole pair by Christmas!

And finally, by popular demand, my lifelong pal Horsey has requested I share my knitted prawns with the blogosphere. Here they are with a courtesy side order of pepperoni pizza. Enjoy!

knitted prawns & pizza

Mathilde with Butterflies


I can’t claim this make as a recent one – but I really wanted to share it with you. The London summer seems to be drawing to a premature end, so I wore my first-born Mathilde last week and remembered how much I love it. You know when you have an outfit that really represents the essence of your personal style – for me: strong colours, skinny jeans, a mum-tum concealing top…

MathildeAs I wrote here about my second Mathilde, I was drawn to this pattern by the lovely pleats and button-back. It was the first detailed pattern I attempted, after re-cutting my teeth on the Colette Sorbetto. The sewing world had moved one somewhat from my first experience of dressmaking, some 20 years ago: the instant gratification of downloadable PDF patterns; super cute independent pattern companies; masses of inspirational blogs; fabulous fabric shops. So a big thanks to Tilly and the Buttons for reigniting the passion for the simple art of stitching!

MathildeThe fabric’s another super-duper find from Simply Fabrics. The light was failing when I took these snaps, but nonetheless I wanted to capture an outfit that makes me ridiculously happy!