Posted in Sewing

Completed: By Hand London Kim Dress V2

I love this dress.

I love this dress so much.

In case it still isn’t clear… this dress, me, we have a love affair going on.


So this is the Kim dress, a pattern that I have owned pretty much since it was released a few years ago. I must have liked it at the time, or I would never have bought it, but I have kind of overlooked the Kim dress all this time because I really don’t like version 1. That faux wrap skirt is doing nothing for me.


Little did I realise that I was also overlooking the absolute awesomeness that is version 2.

Let’s take a closer look at this pattern. It literally has all the requirements of my perfect dress:

  • princess seams
  • sweet heart neck
  • fitted waist
  • full skirt
  • pin tucks (oh my god, pin tucks!)

Just perfect.


I decided to make this dress with some lovely green gingham cotton, that I got from the Knitting and Stitching Show a couple of months ago, to hopefully try to achieve a vintage sundress kind of vibe.

According to my measurements, I am a UK size 14 in this pattern. I made a quick toile of the bodice first though as I anticipated a few fitting problems. I know from experience that By Hand London patterns seem to be made for much smaller chested ladies than me.


The size 14 toile gave me a good fit in the waist and bust but I had a lot of gaping  in the ‘high bust’ area, which I dealt with by taking out two triangular shaped wedges from the pattern. I also decided to raise the neck line by 2cm as it was revealing a bit too much cleavage for me. I’m not opposed to showing a bit of flesh but I’m a school teacher and I would like to be able to wear this dress for work. Low cut is just not appropriate, sadly. Finally I lengthened the bodice by 3cm so that it was finishing at my natural waist. FYI I have never had to do this before. I am 5ft 5ins tall and if anything I am short in the body, so this was a surprising adjustment to make.


The pattern was a joy to make. Straight forward princess-seamed lined bodice, attached to a gathered skirt with an invisible centre back zip. The bottom of the skirt is finished with three lovely pin tucks. It’s this little detail that really gives that nod to vintage – it reminds me so much of some of the vintage sewing patterns from the 1950s and ’60s that my mum used to have.

This dress is just so lovely and the fit is perfect.  I will go as far as say it may well be the most perfect summer dress I have ever made.

I love this dress. You might have noticed.

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dress (version 2)

Every now and then a pattern comes along that you just adore.


For me it’s this, the Cleo dungaree dress by Tilly & the Buttons.

I made a denim version of this in December and I wear it all of the time.  One Cleo in my wardrobe is simply not enough though so here is my second – a lovely soft aubergine needlecord version.

You can read about the construction and my thoughts on this pattern (spoiler: I love it) in my original post here.

Posted in Knitting, Sewing, Teaching

Some works in progress

Hello again!

Is it just me or has this week absolutely flown by? I can’t believe it is Sunday already and I am back in the classroom tomorrow. Not that I am complaining, it means I am getting closer to my half term break or as I like to think of it -a one week sewcation! I am planning a whole week around fabric shopping trips, textiles exhibitions, sewing classes, learning some new skills and, obviously, sewing up some new patterns. Three weeks to go and I literally can not wait!

Josef Frank, Manhattan, 1943-45
Planning a visit to the Josef Frank exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum, London.

I don’t have any finished projects to show you this week but I have got a few things on my cutting table.

First up: I am making my first ever jacket. Eeeeeep! I am making the Colette Patterns Anise Jacket as the second of my #2017makenine makes.


I’ve had this pattern for a couple of years now but have always lacked the confidence to tackle it, in case I mess it up. I’ve stopped thinking that way now though and Operation Anise has begun.

I love the sixties shape of this jacket and that it tapers in gently at the waist, while still having that boxy thing going on. I made a toile, cutting a size 8, and that didn’t throw up any fitting issues at all. (I’ve had Colette patterns fit me with no alterations before so this wasn’t a huge surprise). So this week I have sourced and cut out all the fabric pieces.

Finding the right fabric was a bit tricky to be honest. This jacket is for the spring time so I didn’t want it to be made from a wool or anything that would be too thick and warm. But obviously it needed to be made from something substantial.

I settled on this blue cotton and raffia tweed paired with vintage silk for the lining – both from Fabric Godmother.



All the pieces are now cut out and I’m itching to get started on it this week. There are a lot of firsts for me in this jacket – first jacket, first time sewing with silk, first time underlining, first welt pockets, first bound button holes – but I am not scared. Bring it on!

Also on my cutting table this week is the New Look 6341 made in a bright red  and white floral linen from Minerva.


I am making this as part of a two-part tutorial on princess seams I am doing for the Minerva Crafts blog. I can’t share too much about it just yet but here is a sneaky peek of the fabric.


Finally, I have a new project on my knitting needles. I am test knitting a beautiful new cowl pattern by Rochelle at Lucky Lucille. More details about this coming soon but she is a beauty. You are definitely going to want to knit this!

In other news, my GCSE class have started their textiles coursework this week. A class of 23 girls and one boy tackling sewing patterns for the first time. It’s fun. Chaotic but fun. And my A-level class are busily finishing off their current projects before starting to prepare for their final exam. I’ll share some of their work in a future post but it really is stunning. One of my girls was offered a place to study fashion and textiles at the University of East London this week. I was so incredibly proud of her that I burst into tears when she told me. Textiles teaching is a very emotional career!

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress

I was back at work this week and finding it a bit of a struggle getting out bed while it is still dark outside. But, early mornings aside, I’ve spent much of the week sewing and drawing. Not that different to my holidays really except this week I have been sewing with children  in a classroom instead of in my living room with kittens!


I decided to kick off my 2017 sewing with a nice easy project and one that I have been meaning to make for a long time now – Sew Over It’s Ultimate Shift Dress – made from a fab geometric print cotton from Minerva Crafts.


I have sewn a couple of Sew Over It patterns before – the Ultimate Wrap Dress and the Ultimate Pencil Skirt – and I am a bit of a sucker for their retro packaging. The instructions are always really clear and it doesn’t hurt that I seem to fit their measurements perfectly,  so there are hardly any alterations to make.

The Ultimate Shift Dress is marketed as a beginner friendly pattern and it really is. Apart from maybe a Tilly & the Buttons Coco, I don’t think I have ever made an easier dress.


There are a few style variations within the pattern, including different sleeve lengths and the option of turning it into a top. I went for the standard dress length, with short sleeves. Once again I found that this SOI pattern suits my measurements almost straight from the packet. The only alterations I made were to raise the bust darts by 2cm and to add an extra cm to the width of the sleeve to accommodate my chunky upper arms.


It could not be easier to put together.

It is basically a front piece with bust darts and two back pieces, sewn together with a centre back seam. Plus set in sleeves and facings. There are no zips in the dress, but instead a hook and eye closure and cute little key hole opening.  I actually love this type of fastening. If you can pull your eyes away from my weird hairline,  it looks really elegant, no?


I have quite a curvy figure and, being a medium weight fabric, the dress hangs off my boobs rather than skims my curves. So for me I think it looks a lot more flattering if I wear it belted. But for someone with less boobage I think it is such a great sixties shape when worn without a belt.


This dress took about two hours to make – that’s including overlocking all of the pattern pieces and hand sewing the hem. A quick and easy make to start off the new year and the first of my #2017makenine projects completed!


Posted in Sewing

Completed: Tilly & the Buttons Cleo Dress

Happy Holidays! I hope you are having/have had a lovely festive period.

I am having a super relaxing Christmas break at home with my boyfriend and our kittens and I am even managing to fit in some sewing and knitting in between the eating, drinking and quality snoozing on the sofa.

The first of the finished festive sewing projects is a really lovely Cleo Dungaree Dress, the latest pattern by Tilly & the Buttons.


I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it but I wasn’t sure if it would work on my body shape. I am fairly slim but I have a definite hour glass shape and, as this dress is cut quite generously in the waist and hip area (so it pulls on easily without a zip) I worried it might make my hips looks bigger than they are. Then I saw how sassy the Crafty Pin Up looks in her version and my mind was made up!

I really like the dark blue 1950s style denim so I ordered this for my Cleo, along with dungaree clips and buttons, from Minerva Crafts. It was a tough decision between blue denim and mustard needlecord though. I am probably going to have to make a second version of this dress!

Very helpful, Delia

According to my measurements, I cut a size 4 of the mini length version, with one front pocket, and made no alterations to the pattern other than to slightly widen the straps so that they fit in my dungaree clips better.

Daphne also lends a hand

Once I had managed to get the cats off the fabric, it was a breeze to sew up. Like all Tilly patterns, the instructions are so easy to follow and are illustrated beautifully with colour photos. I managed to get the whole thing made over two afternoons. It maybe takes a little longer than you would expect due to all the top stitching. I have said it before in this blog but I absolutely love top stitching. I love how focussed I have to be and how the whole world around me disappears while I am in that top stitching moment! Bliss!

And here is the finished dress….


I am so happy with it. The fit is perfect and I love the dark blue fabric and the contrasting mustard top stitching. I might replace the buttons with something slightly bigger as the clips have a tendency to come undone but otherwise it is perfect. I’ve worn it out already and got so many compliments. A really great dress.

Posted in Sewing

Completed: Gertie’s Surplice bodice dress with 3/4 circle skirt

Back in September I was idly scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw that Gretchen ‘Gertie‘ Hirsch had announced she was coming to the UK to teach some workshops, literally five minutes walk from my flat,  at Ray Stitch in London.

Within seconds I had booked myself onto a class – the only one that had not yet sold out – a bodice fitting workshop over two evenings in October.

The lovely Gertie

I was asked, a lot, why I was doing this class. ‘You already know how to sew’, ‘You’re a sewing teacher, isn’t that a bit weird’  – that kind of thing.

A couple of facts:

  1. Sewing with Gertie…. are you kidding me? I’ve been a fan of her and her blog/books/patterns for years. Of course I am going to try to get in her class.
  2. I actually have never learned how to fit clothes properly. Usually I just take my measurements and hope for the best, with a bit of tweaking – maybe a few extra  *gulp* neck darts  – afterwards. I have never made a toile/muslin before. EVER. And I have certainly never adjusted a pattern before. Seriously.. .how have I managed to make anything that fits?!

Anyway…I went along to the class. Met a small group of fab sewing ladies and I am happy to report that Gretchen is one of the most lovely people I have ever met. I spent two evenings with Gertie,  perfecting a princess seam bodice from her book Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book. Just six short hours  with her and I learned so much about fitting. I came away from the experience  feeling empowered and ready to tackle any sewing project, knowing that the result was going to fit beautifully.

Taken from Gertie’s Instagram feed – check out my happy face

I have my perfectly altered  princess seam bodice pattern and muslin as a result of that class , and this is a dress that I will definitely make in the near future. But before that, I wanted to have a go at another dress from Gertie’s book, the surplice bodice dress with a three quarter circle skirt. I was inspired by this awesome anchor print dress by Sewn by Ashley and wanted to create something similar for a wedding.

Flamingo close up

I bought this amazing navy blue flamingo print cotton from Sew Over It and a petrol blue lining from Fabric Store in Walthamstow. And, armed with everything I had learned from Gertie, I set to work on my first muslin.

Muslin number three  – the fit is so bad I am too embarrassed to show my face

I traced off a size 8 but I had to do a lot of alterations to this pattern. The waist needed to be bigger; I needed to take some fabric out of the front so it would lie flat against my chest; I shortened the shoulders; I took quite a lot of fabric out of the back to stop it gaping at the neck; and pinched out a little fabric from a sway back. All in all I ended up making five muslins! Five! From the girl who had never made a  muslin ever before!

Awkward pose; awesome dress

I am so glad I did though. I could not be more happy with the fit of this dress. Once I got the fit right it was relatively easy to put together. I lined the bodice and used an invisible zip. I did intend to use horse hair braid in the hem but as I will be wearing it with a stiff petticoat it doesn’t really feel necessary.

I love this dress and felt amazing wearing it to the lovely wedding of Ellen and Pete this weekend. A perfect dress for being twirled on a dance floor.

Action shot

I’m going to leave you with a bunch of photos taken in my classroom.

Happy Sunday xo


I probably should have used blue thread in my overlocker
Front view
And another