Desert Island Sewing

If you only had enough time for one more sewing project, what would it be? I’ve been on the countdown to fit in my final sewing projects before the big move, which is happening this weekend (cue frantic packing and sleepless nights).  At least I’ll have new clothes to think about on the flight, instead of morbid thoughts (does anyone get on a plane these days without thinking morbid thoughts?!).

Emery BodiceI’m quite chuffed with myself for sticking to the plan and making clothes that fill huge gaps in my tropical wardrobe. There’s been quite a few pairs of summer weight trousers from the Ultimate Trousers pattern by Sew Over It. I haven’t blogged them all as you can’t really outshine the lurid red floral pair with some sensible navy and black ones! So for my last Desert Island project, I chose to make another of my favourite dresses from last year: Christine Haynes’ Emery Dress. Longtime readers might recall my Shrinking Violet Emery (same fabric as the Ultimate Trousers) and her classier cousin: the denim-linen version. For this year’s version I couldn’t resist one of the Liberty of London Alice in Wonderland collection – the scrumptious Oxford B Tana Lawn.

Emery back

I used the same pattern modifications as last time – my first ever FBA, with a few centimetres pinched out of the side seams. I’d appreciate your advice on this one: I think I’ve got the FBA right, but it does result in slightly 1950s style pointy boobs. Should i be dividing the bust dart into two to make it a smoother shape? To do justice to the gorgeousness that is tana lawn, I went for the fully lined bodice. Without the lining the cotton is just a tad too light and flimsy for a closely fitting bodice. I wanted to ensure that it had sufficient structure to cope with the inevitable strain of a bosom requiring an FBA. The lining was surprisingly easy to insert: once the bodice and skirt are attached, the lining is pinned right sides together, and you take a scant 5/8″ seam allowance to stitch along side the zips before doing the same to the neckline – et voila! I thought I’d add a photo of the beautiful invisible zip, but I guess it just highlights that I didn’t trouble myself with pattern matching.

Emery pocket

There was only one ‘challenging moment’ with this dress: I was boldly overlocking the skirt side seams and around the pocket bags. I hadn’t fully appreciated the geography of the overlocker blade and needles…. and managed to cut a 1″ slit in the skit underneath the pocket. A bit of interfacing, a small patch and some zig-zag stitching later and it was all fixed. Not even a tear shed. Thank goodness for a busy print! You can’t even see it in the photo.

Emery Dress

So, farewell from the fireplace for now. While I finish packing I’d love to know what your Desert Island project would be? Oh, and by the way, I thought I’d give Instagram a whirl to ensure my fix of sewing chat while I’m on the move. You can find me at @SewSouthLondon. Tat-ta for now!

Bonnies by the Bunch!

Hey there! How have you been? Getting withdrawal symptoms after the end of series 3 GBSB?! Sewing has forced it’s way up to the top of my to-do list this week –  a cheeky day off work spent on Goldhawk Road, the cutting out of my long-awaited Grainline Archer, and part 1 of the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers class. Part two is next week, and i literally cannot wait to finish my lurid red floral party pants. I’ve tried on one leg so far (admittedly not the best way to gauge fit) and I think there’s more work to be done to avoid the ‘jodhpur’ look.

lace bonnieBut, for your sewing pleasure today, I bring you a pair of Bonnies! I wrote plenty here of how much I loved this pattern by Bluegingerdoll. My beloved snakeskin version has become a wardrobe staple. I bought another metre of ponte roma from eBay, ensuring that the colour would work with my white-threaded overlocker (note to self: I really need to force myself to learn to re-thread this thing!).

This time around I added 1.5″ to the bodice length to cover a little more of my modesty. It retains the cropped look, but I still have to wear a vest under it. I loved it so much that I made another lengthened one from some gorgeous striped cotton knit from The Cloth House purchased with more birthday vouchers. Gosh, I was spoiled this year! Of all the things I have made this year, I am most pleased with my Bonnies.

Bluegingerdoll BonnieI am most definitely a repeat sewist – if I like it, I make it over and over again. Along with three Bonnies I’ve made four Monetas (spots, pink, snake, black) and three Mathildes (butterflies, chambray, Liberty lawn). Are you a thrifty sewist, making the most of your favourite patterns, or are you seduced by new patterns? What are your favourite go-to patterns to revamp?

kanervaI’ll leave you with one of my one-offs: the Named Patterns Kanerva top that nearly didn’t fit! Happy weekend!

Named Clothing Kanerva in Liberty Elizabeth

My new Kanerva blouse by fab Finnish company, Named Clothing, has seen some serious action already. It’s been so busy socialising that it’s taken me two weeks to arrange to get it photographed, and that’s without me in it! Two very special friends have celebrated milestone birthdays in the past fortnight. I knew I wanted to wear something new and handmade, but with limited time on my hands I decided to take a day off work and have some uninterrupted sewing time to myself. I had seen a breathtaking version of the Kanerva blouse on the Fancy Tiger Crafts blog, and I was also very fortunate to receive some Liberty gift coins for my birthday. Aren’t they gorgeous? In fact I almost thought they were too lovely to spend. But spend them I did, on the most beautiful Liberty Tana Lawn in Elizabeth D.

Liberty Gift Coins

I wasn’t much of a fan of PDF patterns, but of late I’ve been seduced by the speed with which I can get cracking on a new garment. My two pre-schoolers are now experts with a glue-stick and sellotape! I was particularly pleased that the Kanerva PDF prints on 12 sheets, and you only have to print off the size that you require. The downside is that you then have to trace off the pattern pieces as they are overlapped on the PDF sheet.

Named Kanerva

Despite pledging to slow my hobby down to a more enjoyable pace, I wanted this top so badly that I decided not to make a toile. Home alone, Radio 4 in the background, I was well and truly in ‘The Zone’. The garment was coming together so beautifully, mainly because, as fabrics go, Tana Lawn is incredibly well-behaved. Once I’d completed the button bands I thought I’d slip it on, sans buttons, to have my first peek. I was shocked to find that it was incredibly snug. How on earth could I have potentially wasted the gorgeous fabric in my haste?! I went back to the instructions several times just to check I hadn’t made a mistake on the seam allowances. I had a vague recollection of the Fancy Tiger Crafts blog mentioning that seams allowances were not included. But that turned out to be a red herring, as the seam allowances are included in the PDF pattern, but not in the printed version.


To cut a long story short, it does fit! It’s snug, but looks sleek and fitted around the waist, and the peplum gently flares to hip height. It’s a very flattering design. I particularly love the neat pleat around the waist, above the peplum, and the buttons down the back. There’s definitely room in my wardobe for a couple of Kanervas.

This blouse is already a firm favourite and will always carry very happy memories: the first birthday party was for my lifelong best friend, Debbie, and involved catching up with school friends and after a long night of celebrating ended up in a fab living room disco; the second was a weekend in Lisbon to surprise a very special friend Sarah who had no idea we would be gate-crashing her birthday. Happy birthday, lovely ladies. I’ll be back in front of the fireplace next post once the signs of over-indulgence and sleep deprivation have faded! x


A Liberty Mathilde

MathildeMy love affair with Mathilde has been well documented, so needless to say I was beyond thrilled when Tilly of Tilly & The Buttons fame featured my two Mathildes on a blog post last month. I never thought that my makes would ever have their moment of fame, but, as sewing accolades go I was chuffed to bits! So, having waxed lyrical about my earlier Mathildes here and here, today’s post is a little shorter as there’s not much more I can add short of penning a love sonnet.


After my fabric-purchasing debacle, when I foolishly bought an insufficient amount of this Liberty Tana Lawn and had to source more, I ended up with enough left over to make another Mathilde. Result! British autumnal weather calls for exactly a blouse like this: it looks fab over a pair of skinny jeans. For this version, I went back to the original design after pattern-hacking my Mathilde in Chambray. I lowered the front neckline by an inch as I found the original a little high. The pleats seem to get slightly lost in the busy print, but nevertheless they are my favourite feature of this blouse. I’m a sucker for the buttons down the back too.

MathildeNo photos of me today, peeps. I’m sure you’ll survive! I had a scroll down my ‘In The Wardrobe’ page and had to chuckle at all of my ‘hands on hip’ or ‘just dropped a quid on the floor’ poses. Seriously, how do those supermodels do it?! I just couldn’t compose myself enough to do this blouse justice today!

A Liberty Robe Sureau

Deer & Doe Sureau

I may have found my new, most favourite pattern – the Deer & Doe Robe Sureau. This blustery, autumnal weather requires a lovely trans-seasonal frock in dark floral to wear with woolly tights and leather boots.  What better fabric to use than this delicious Liberty Tana Lawn in Edenham Navy, which I was shocked to find at Simply Fabrics. Being somewhat thrifty (and wanting to buy a whole stack of other Liberty bargains) I only bought 1.5 metres. This turned out to be just enough to cut the pattern, minus one sleeve.  So I had to track down another piece from Shaukat. If you have never been, and have a weakness for Liberty, this place is truly amazing.

Liberty Robe SureauWe are well-served in this part of South London for fabulous sewing supplies and venues. Afterall we have the SewOverIt Sewing Cafe, the Tilly and The Buttons HQ for sewing workshops, the ever fabulous and unpredictable Simply Fabrics and the hidden gem that is The Wimbledon Sewing Machine Shop in Tooting Bec. Yet, when overcome with the urge to buy buttons on a Sunday, the only place I could find south of the river was Morley’s in Brixton, which has a decent haberdashery. I was pretty happy in the end with these lovely vintage-style floral buttons but it took me a looooooong time to decide.

Sureau ButtonAfter the success of getting a good fit on my Emery dresses (here and here) I made up a toile bodice for the Sureau in a size 40, grading the waist out to a 42. Despite Deer & Doe drafting for a B cup, this combo seemed to yield the perfect fit, so no further fitting was required. The neckline has a tendency to gape, which was something I’d read about in a few different blogs. I’m not sure if it’s because I stretched the neckline out when i top-stitched it, or whether I need to follow Paunnet’s tutorial for a gapey neckline from the Sureau Sewalong for my next version. It always takes a few goes to perfect these garments!  I’m so happy with the finished garment – it’s got a lovely vintagey feel to it. The skirt isn’t as full as the Emery, so I don’t feel quite so much as though I’m going to work in fancy dress!

Deer & Doe Sureau

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!

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……