BHL Anna Maxi

Here’s a dress I’m not entirely sure about. I mean, it looks fine, well better than it ought, despite an epic last minute alteration. It’s just not my usual style or palette. I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘maxi type’ but I was curious to make the Anna dress as By Hand London intended it to be.


I have had success with this pattern previously. After a few alterations I ended up with a really well fitting bodice for my Nautical Anna dress. I chose to add a gathered skirt from the Christine Haynes Emery dress, rather than adding the gored skirt, and was very happy with it.

I’ve seen some gorgeous maxi versions of this dress, so I thought I’d make it in viscose and see if it might work as an evening gown in something fancy like satin backed crepe or silk. I mean, everyone needs a floor-length evening gown in the wardrobe for a rainy day, right?


I added the same alterations to the bodice: a 0.5″ FBA and lengthened the bodice by 1″. I had a lingering suspicion that the bodice had been too long on my Nautical Anna, but it still looked fine. My suspicion of a case of over-alteration was confirmed when the maxi skirt added to this dress. The waistline was way too low, so the extra 1″ was wholly unnecessary. It’s funny, isn’t it, how when you learn to fit there’s a real risk of over-doing it! This fitting issue came to light rather late in the day after the skirt had been stitched and overlocked to bodice. There’s also a big difference in fit on this diaphanous viscose number compared to the cotton poplin of the last one. I had to execute emergency procedures and removed the extra 1″. I moved waist seam by 1″ without undoing the stitching. A total hack in the literal sense of the word; this involved moving the waist seam up by 1″ and easing the skirt to fit. I am disappointed that at this stage I’m still bungling my mistakes, but the miracle of print and the generosity of viscose means that you can’t actually tell!


There is a residual fit issue: the waist seam lower at back than front on both dresses. Can you see? Any ideas? Hopefully my Christmas stocking will contain ‘Fit for Real People’, so I should get to the bottom of it. No pun intended! This photo also helpfully shows how I moved the zip to the right side. It’s quite possibly the neatest, most invisible zip I’ve ever inserted.
Here’s the ubiquitous leg split shot! This dress had lain half-competed for a while as my seasonally-inappropriate urge for a sweatshirt got in the way! I received a metaphorical kick up the backside to finish my Anna courtesy of Amanda at Bimble and Pimble, the blogging genius behind #Sewvember where people are prompted to post a sewing photo a day. I’ve been merrily snapping away on Instagram (@SewSouthLondon). The prompt for Day 16 was unfinished makes (UFO). It’s amazing how airing your neglected projects and have others urge you to complete them works like a charm.    

So here she is: Anna in her full length glory. It’s a bit cooler and wetter in Malaysia at the moment, but still around 30 degrees most days. As I write this I’m amazed to hear that my UK friends might be waking up to snow today! It’s a bit early for Christmas!

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Laurel by the Sea

I’ve been on a roll with Laurel by Colette Patterns, but I think I’ve come to the end of the run for now. It’s become a wardrobe staple: a simple shape, a quick and easy pattern and a perfect way to focus on the fabric.

 This fabric is a geometric print viscose from Spotlight. I only ever go in for a zip and usually come out with at least three different fabrics, plus patterns and notions. It makes for an expensive lunch break!  Looking at these pics, I’m glad I took my time over the pattern alignment. This is one print that would have looked dreadful had I not centred it. As with the tropical Viscose Laurel, I omitted the back zip and used bias binding to finish the neckline.


So here I am dazzling everyone with my Snow White complexion. Some people manage to look effortlessly golden on the beach. I just look hot and bothered!
Have you been reading Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow’s Better Pictures Project? I can’t be alone in not enjoying the photography sessions. I don’t think it’s the highlight of my husband’s week either! Yet I’m still compelled to record my handmade clothes. For this post I thought I’d take up Gillian’s October homework challenge to incorporate movement into photos.

So a small improvement I think. But with this scenery to look at, it was fairly easy to forget about being photographed. Gillian’s definitely inspired me to raise my game! #betterpicturesproject 

Adventures in Viscose!

I’m sorry, where? Doesn’t my life sound exciting? Viscose, eh?  The truth is, it is quite exciting at the moment. I’m getting around the region and exploring, but I’m not finding a great deal of time to sew.


I’m also finding it nigh-on impossible to get half-decent blog photos. Either the light’s too strong or low, or I’m trying to prevent small people falling in swimming pools, or I am relying on the same small people to take said photos (see Instagram for a particularly ropey selection). I’m falling a little behind with blogging new outfits as a result.


I’ve also been thinking about what I sew and why. With so little free time I have to really be committed to my choices. I have reverted to sewing simple patterns that place the fabric centre-stage and don’t take up too much brain power. Most importantly they have to fill a gap in my wardrobe. I’m wary of falling into the trap of making more and more without taking time to appreciate and wear the clothes I’ve already made.


In an earlier post I wrote about how much I loved my first Bettine by Tilly and the Buttons. I was very taken with the viscose I had bought in Hong Kong. The drape was great and it was so cool to wear in the heat. I went on a mission to find more and bought two tropical fabrics from Spotlight – a huge Australian craft superstore. My second Bettine was born!


I lengthened the skirt by an inch or so in order not to offend the conservative locals. I was still almost refused access to a public building for gratuitous knee-baring, but managed to talk them around! I thought I had done with Bettine, but already I’m thinking about a cotton chambray number….

A Laurel for the Tropics

I’m almost always clad in dresses these days. With the daily temperature of 36 degrees celcius anything fussy or complicated feels too cumbersome. I’ve also found a few really lovely pieces of fabric on my travels so was thinking about a simple shape to show them off to their full. My first indie pattern was the Colette Laurel, blogged here in denim and here in Liberty lawn. It’s a really simple shift dress that fits pretty well out of the envelope.IMG_1217

So I thought that the Laurel would be the perfect way to use this fab tropical print viscose. As before, I took a few inches out of the side seams on the skirt to avoid the ‘grown-up wearing a children’s nightie’ look. The viscose drapes beautifully so I thought it was a shame to interrupt it with a zip. I tested my Laurel top and realised that the dress would slip over the head without any trouble. So I omitted the zip and used black bias tape to finish the neckilne. This dress makes me happy. It’s become a firm favourite as it packs easily, looks more statement than simple, and is just so comfortable to wear.

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I’m getting my head turned by all of your delicious new makes but trying not to succumb! For the record I’ve mainly been: obsessing a little too much over the Closet Case Files Sallie jumpsuit; getting my pattern pieces ready for the Prima magazine culottes; and deciding between the BHL Anna and Zeena. Progress is extremely slow but I firmly believe that a hobby should be a pleasurable escape not another pressure. Well, I’m trying to convince myself of that! Either way, no new patterns until I source a new printer cartridge!

A Birthday Bettine 

Can you believe it’s been a whole year since I decided to join the online sewing community and start a little blog of my own? I can’t tell you how much pleasure, friendship and general sewing knowledge and experience I’ve gained along the way. But then if you’re a blog reader or writer, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about!


Despite my anxiety over being separated from my sewing machine for a few months, I had been happily enjoying my sewing sabbatical. That was until I saw Tilly and The Buttons’ new sewing pattern – The Bettine. As I saw my Instagram feed fill up with Bettines, my eye was caught by this gorgeous number by Meg of Cookin’ and Craftin’ and I knew this was the dress for me.  Social media can be blamed for many things, but its ability to compel you into action is phenomenal!

I was on holiday in Hong Kong when the pattern was released, so I swung into action with a special trip to Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong’s fabric and garment district on the look out for viscose/rayon. Here’s what I found! I didn’t want to wish away the rest of the holiday, but by the end I was losing sleep thinking about getting stuck in!
I studied the pattern sizing and went for a size 5 on the top and graded down to a 4 at the hips, hoping that I hadn’t needed to do a FBA. I also added 2cm to the skirt length, noting other bloggers were finding it a tad short. I was a little nervous as to whether the elastic waistline and blousy fit would be flattering or whether I would prefer a more tailored look. I was really pleased with how it turned out – there’s not too much ease on the hip and the viscose drapes beautifully. It’s the perfect hot weather work dress and was a lovely simple garment to ease me back into making my own wardrobe. In this climate I’m wearing dresses most of the time and I need more! I love my Bettine and I’m looking forward to see all of yours next weekend on Instagram #sewingbettine!

GBSB Casual Trousers

Thanks so much for your lovely comments about the fate of Sew South London. It’s really wonderful to hear that you enjoy the posts. I feel motivated to continue, but at a different pace. I’m really looking forward to writing some more varied posts. With all the sewing I’ve been doing there’s not much mental space for anything other than finished garment posts. I also think I might re-brand as Sew South East Asia!

I’ve been having a push on summer clothes as it’s been glorious spring weather here in South London, and as you know I’m soon to head out for the horizon. Of all the patterns in the GBSB: Fashion With Fabric book that I most wanted to try out (after the drapey dress) was the casual trousers. The original pattern was for a playsuit. Brave as I am, there’s not many than can pull off a good playsuit look once you get past 18 months old.
GBSB casual trousersThe pattern took half an hour or so to trace off, then maybe the same again to cut out. The sewing didn’t take long either! Sometimes you just need some instant sewing gratification. The first pair are black with white polka dot viscose purchased from The Wimbledon Sewing Shop in Tooting. The drape is fantastic on these trousers, but the downside is that they do look (and feel) a little like pyjamas. In fact when I wore them, my personal stylist (aka Mr SSL) politely enquired which train I would be taking to work. He then informed me that he’d be on a later train. He literally could not believe that I would wear pyjama bottoms to work.

GBSB casual trousersPair number two were made with delicious Indian cotton from The Cloth House in Soho, purchased with my final batch of birthday vouchers. I didn’t try to pattern-match the block print, other than to line up the pattern pieces at the same point on the hem. As luck would have it, there’s one point on each outer leg seam that matches perfectly. As the seam tapers in, there’s no chance of matching the print the whole length of the seam.

GBSB casual trousersThe cotton paid drapes differently and create less of a clown-like silhouette. Both pairs are comfortable to wear. The elasticated waistband was quick and easy to insert, but to avoid the granny-trousers look I think you need to have a top covering it.

The light’s not great in these photos. To incentivise my photographer I told him he didn’t need to leave the sofa. All credit goes to my clever pre-schooler who took the photo at the top of this post!