• A swishy, summery Martha dress

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    So I have been one busy sewing bee, working flat out on this, my latest make, in time to wear to a very exciting sewing event this weekend. The Sewing Weekender, organised by The English Girl at Home and The Foldline, is taking place in Cambridge (lucky for me!) and I so wanted to have a new dress to wear. Sew Essential kindly provided fabric to me for this project (thank you!), and I am so excited to show you the fruits of my labour.

    I already had this pattern waiting in the wings, and had been dying to try it out ever since I bought it when it was released. It is a beautiful Martha dress by Tilly and the Buttons. I instantly fell in love with this dress when I saw photos popping up all over Twitter – the princess seams and mandarin collar being my favourite elements.

    I decided on making a mini skirt length version – which I usually do with dresses/skirts, because I am not particularly gifted in the height department so tend to find midi length skirts make me look a bit dumpy. And I also went for the short sleeves which I thought looked a little bit more cutesy, and also perfect for wearing in the summer months.

    Being as impatient as I am, I went straight in with sewing up a size 3. I tested the bodice before finishing seams though, to check on sizing and fit. Turns out it was absolutely spot on. Magic!

    The fabric was a lightweight woven polyester from Sew Essential – a really pretty John Kaldor floral navy blue print against a white background. It was lightweight, but with gorgeous drape which gives the dress the extra swish factor! The challenge with using this fabric was that it was a tad sheer, so required fully lining the dress. I spent quite a while scratching my head on how to tackle this. Luckily I had some wonderful advice from Tilly and the Buttons HQ, explaining in detail how to go about lining Martha which was so so helpful!

    I found that this dress did take quite a bit of time to make – kind of from a combination of using a lightweight fabric, a slightly more challenging pattern, and having to fully line it. But I kind of find that projects that I spend more time on I generally feel more proud for finishing. Do other sewists feel like this? I do love a quick-sew project, but there is something so rewarding about spending a whole chunk of time on a more complex garment and reaching the finish line.

    So here we have her – a cheeky, summery, floaty, swishy Martha. And I am a little bit in love with her! So off I trot to The Sewing Weekender…. La la la! Keep an eye on my Instagram for updates throughout the weekend, and I will post a review after I have recovered from all of the excitement!

    Fabric – Sew Essential

    Pattern – Tilly and the Buttons Martha

    Size made – 3


  • An Indoor Jungle Shirt Dress

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    Hello lovelies. So a little bit of a delay with this, my latest make (soz!). And before I get started, I just want to jump straight in and declare my love for this dress!

    It was somewhat rushed through the sewing room – out of a mixture of leaving it last-minute, and sheer excitement. Excitement, because this was to be my outfit to wear to BLOGTACULAR!

    For those who don’t know, Blogtacular is a most spectacular and inspiring conference for creative bloggers. I had an absolute blast of a day – and this dress was so fun to wear. I was so happy inside that I got so many compliments on it! Oh, and I had the pleasure of properly meeting the fabulous girlies from The Foldline, Kate and Rachel – nice to meet you ladies!

    Anyway, back to the dress…

    I picked up the fabric from CallyCo in Cambridge. Originally I had planned to use it to make a wedding guest dress at the start of June, but ended up running out of time for that. Hey ho… you know how it goes!

    I was so instantly drawn to this fabric in the shop – mostly because I appear to have developed a slight obsession with indoor plants lately. As you can see, I have plenty of plants on my scaffold shelves in the kitchen – and I even have a little living wall in my house too! The pattern is of Monstera leaves – in fact this is one plant that I don’t have yet, but desperately wanting one for my living room. So for now, I have settled for the print on this lovely cotton fabric.

    The pattern is a cutesy Pauline Alice Cami dress. I previously made one of these and have pretty much lived in it since! I knew that making another one gave me an opportunity to improve on the fit. The first one I made was somewhat tight around the old boobies, which is never that attractive for a buttoned-up shirt finish. I mean, it wasn’t too bad, but I decided to give myself a little bit more ease around the chest, so to take a little bit of strain from some of the buttons! I looked at doing a FBA, but I really don’t term myself as needing so much as that. So I just graded out the pattern piece so that it went from size 8 at the waist (which I knew was perfect), to size 10 around the chest. This seemed to do the trick, and I’m happy with the new fit.

    I love everything about this dress pattern – the shirt styling combined with a girly gathered skirt, plus POCKETS! Yippeee!

    So off I trotted in my ‘hot of the sewing machine’ Cami dress to London for my magical day at Blogtacular. It was all kinds of special.

    Pattern: Pauline Alice Cami

    Size made: 8 (waist down), 10 (chest)

    Fabric: CallyCo, Cambridge

    Buttons: Textile Garden


  • The Big Vintage Sew-Along ~ My Swinging 60's Colour Pop Dress

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    Earlier this year, I was OVER THE MOON to be invited to take part in the Big Vintage Sew-Along Blogger Tour. So many of the big names in dressmaking have been/will be taking part in this, so I have to say I feel massively honoured to be asked to contribute. And it is in support of a fantastic charity, The Eve Appeal which raises money for research into/awareness of gynaecological cancers.

    Though I was initially a tiny bit scared of the challenge, as I have never sewn any vintage patterns. So this is a first for me! Plus I’m not a particularly girly girl, so I knew that any of the dress patterns would really be pushing me out of my comfort zone. But turns out that’s a good thing!

    I was instantly drawn to Butterick’s B5748 pattern from the early 60s – mostly because I felt as though it would suit my figure, and I have worn similar styles before which I have really liked. This probably isn’t the kind of style which springs to mind straightaway when talking about 60s dresses, and could perhaps be thought of as more 50s swing.

    Fabric-wise I knew I wanted something with a decent drape, but also with a bit of body to hold a nice shape, but not too stiff as I wanted it to have some movement. I am obsessed with the Sew Over It range of fabrics – and always find something that I fall in love with on their online shop. I knew I needed something without any directional print, and ended opting for something quite simple – this gorgeous blue spotty cotton twill. It was described on the website as having a good amount of drape so I went for it. The fabric arrived, and was more perfect than I could have imagined. Slightly more medium weight, super super soft and had incredible drape.

    I knew before starting this dress that I wanted to make a toile – mostly after hearing the odd horror story on sizing of vintage patterns. So against the pattern sizing instructions I thought I’d go for a 12, given that I am usually an 8/10 but had heard that vintage patterns often come out very small. The toile that I made ended up being huge on me though. I roped husband in to help with fitting (bless him, he puts up with A LOT!). I only made a toile of the bodice though, as I figured that would be the most important part to get the fit just perfect. I ended up taking quite a lot of fabric from the shoulder and side seams – so much that it made sense to simply take the pattern down to between sizes 8-10. I then took about 1 inch from both the front and back bodice pieces. This is kind of a given with any pattern for me though.

    It felt like an age going through the toile making and fitting. I was getting so impatient! Then on to cutting up that beautiful blue twill…

    The instructions on this pattern suggest fully lining the dress. Though I only lined the bodice as I knew I wanted to wear an underskirt/petticoat with it – plus the fabric was thick enough to not really need lining on the skirt part. I was pleased that I lined the bodice though – as it felt lovely to wear with soft slinky insides.

    I had a minor falling out with my sewing machine during the sewing of the lining – this was pretty frustrating! It kept skipping stitches, so I tried EVERYTHING to fix this. In the end it seemed to behave itself – after re-threading, changing the needle and adjusting the tension.

    Once I got towards attaching the skirt to the bodice I got more and more excited! I had a real sense of this project coming together into something I was really proud of.

    I had previously bought an underskirt to wear with this dress, as I thought it would really show off that A-line shape. And just for fun I wanted to jazz it up with a pop of contrasting red colour!

    The hem took quite a long time to finish – with it being a circle skirt, there must have been metres and metres of hem!

    Then I got on to thinking about styling this dress for photos. I ummed and erred over ‘how vintage do I go with this?’. I really wasn’t sure about going too over the top. Then bam…. walked into Kurt Geiger and saw these bright red beauties with big fat girly-as-you-like bows. Could. Not. Resist. And turns out – they were absolutely perfect!!

    So since finishing, I have been absolutely gagging to blog photos! This is probably my proudest make to date. I am utterly over the moon with how it turned out – I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! The fit, the colour, the movement of it – all came together perfectly. I let out a little girly scream when I first looked at myself wearing it in the mirror! I am so pleased that I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone for this project – couldn’t be happier with it!

    The pattern itself is pretty simple, so perfect for anyone relatively new to dressmaking. To highlight, I am no expert in dressmaking! I am still kind of new to it – probably termed as an ‘improving beginner’ – especially compared to all of the super experienced sewists out there.

    So I hope you all enjoy checking out photos of this dress, and finger’s crossed that it inspires a few to very literally give this pattern a whirl!

    Pattern: Butterick B5748

    Fabric (main): Sew Over It

    Fabric (lining): John Lewis, Cambridge

    Size made: 8/10

    Underskirt: eBay


    To see more on the Big Vintage Sew-Along, check out the website here, and follow the rest of the Blogger Tour! Some bloggers have already posted their makes (here), and these lovelies are still to come:

    Friday 10th June: Lisa Comfort, Sew Over It Youtube

    Friday 24th June: Janene Spencer, ooobop

    Friday 8th July: Marie Koupparis, A Stitching Odyssey

    Friday 15th July: Kerry Patterson, Kestrel Makes

    Friday 22nd July: Fiona Parker, Diary of a Chainstitcher

    Friday 29th July: Karen Ball, Did You Make That?

    Friday 5th August: Laura Clarke, Sew For Victory

    Friday 12th August: Nina Chang, Thumble Nina

    Friday 19th August: Charlotte Powell, English Girl at Home

    Friday 26th August: Gabby Young, Living on a shoe string

    Friday 2nd September: Rachel Pinheiro, House of Pinheiro

    Friday 9th September: Elena Rose Brown, Randomly Happy

    Friday 16th September: Wendy Gardiner, Butterick

    Friday 23rd September: Winnie Longhurst, Scruffy Badger Time

    Friday 30th September: Rachel Walker, The Fold Line