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Wrap it up and start again

I seem to have officially fallen for tie-around wrap styles of late, and banished buttons and zips from my stitching répertoire – at least temporarily. Here are four things I’ve made in the last few months with ties and/or wrap-around styles as closures.

I made this in early June and I looove it – it is a lovely cool red linen I bought at La Maison Dorée in Brussels (not a fabric shop I go to that often but I will definitely go back to see if I can get some more of this linen). It is basically a quick self -drafted loose-fitting front and back bodice with a gathered skirt, and some ruffles on the straps to jazz it up. Perfect for heatwaves.


Next is a top made from fabric I’ve had in my stash for a long time and I have no idea where it came from! (I wonder how many blog posts I’ve started with that sentence…) I didn’t have very much of it though but I managed to eeek out this top.

I used the Deer and Doe Myosotis dress bodice pattern as a base. I cut the bodice on the fold and changed the neckline to this square-ish style with a pleat at the front, and I added a gathered peplum and waist ties. I love this top so much and it fills a gap in my wardrobe in the category of ‘tops to throw on with shorts in the summer’.

A few months ago I made this free wrap top pattern by In the Folds which is available as part of the Peppermint Mag Sewing School. Such a great (and free!) pattern! The fabric I used is a bit of a cheap and nasty viscose so I’m not mad about the finished result (and I certainly will not be wearing it when it is really hot!), but it was good to use up this fabric as a more-or-less wearable muslin to test out this pattern.

And lastly, I hacked the above Peppermint Mag free wrap top pattern into this dress. I was really pleased with the outcome and my hacking/drafting. Both the outer fabric and the lining come from Passion Tissus on Chaussée de Waterloo – the best fabric shop ever!

That’s a wrap (sorry).

Myosotis in May for couture in confinement


I’ve had such mixed feelings about volunteering to sew masks during the COVID-19 pandemic – how much value do we (as a society) place on work when it is done for free? (For insightful reading on the politics of mask sewing I recommend these articles.) But my main thought about it all is that I’d much rather be sewing dresses that bring me joy, test my skills, and that I will wear again and again to potter around beautiful Brussels.

Here are two versions of the popular Deer and Doe Myosotis dress pattern which I had been curious to try for a while! I think this is a great pattern for hacking as there are so many ways you can adapt it to get it how you would like.

I omitted the collar pieces in both versions, and on my yellow one I changed the neckline shape to be a straight v-neck. I didn’t have enough fabric for the lower ruffle pieces but that worked out ok as I wanted some dresses for hot days so I quite like the shorter style. I’m not usually a fan of gathered skirts but I love them on this dress – perhaps it is also down to me taking more care over the gathers to make sure they are evenly spaced out, something I’ve definitely rushed in the past. I added waist ties too – I don’t think I’ll ever go back to zips, waist ties are the way to go! And I modified the sleeve into a bell sleeve using the tutorial in Winifred Aldrich’s pattern making book which is super easy.

Both of these dresses will get a lot of wear – especially the yellow one which I love! The fabric is some linen I bought on Goldhawk Road when I was in London in late January (when that kind of expedition was possible!). The paisley-print dress is the last of some fabric I bought metres of circa 2016 – I’ve now made three dresses from it – here are the previous two! And thanks to my previous blog posts I know that the fabric comes from a shop beside the canal in Anderlecht called GoTex – I would definitely not have remembered where I bought it otherwise!

How do like my plants?



Get your (Yates) coat

I finished off 2019 (and the decade!) with a monster sewing project, the Yates Coat pattern from Grainline Studio. And I’m really happy with it! I’ve been dreaming of a long coat like this for ages and I bought the pattern months ago. Making a coat is definitely an involved project as you need to make time to source the right materials and make adjustments, and of course cut out all the pieces.

Fabric: a tartan brushed wool from Passion Tissus in Saint-Gilles (such a good shop) – 5 euro a metre.
Lining: black satiny-viscose also from Passion Tissus – 5 euro a metre.

Changes I made to the pattern pieces: I lengthened the coat and the lining quite a bit as I knew I wanted a long coat to keep me warm and I redrafted the two-piece sleeve so the armhole is lower and did a bicep enlargement as I knew I wanted to have enough room for a big jumper under the coat. My redrafted sleeve cap is puffier than the original design – this wasn’t my intention but I like how it turned out!

I also just used a sew-on snap button – I do intend to give it proper bound button holes at some point but 1) I’m a bit scared to ruin it, and 2) the snap button is actually fine!

I finished this just before Christmas, it’s really cosy and I have worn it non-stop!

The thing that is really important when it comes to coat making is interfacing and underlining! I did quite a bit of research into this but in the end I just used calico toile to underline parts of the coat – when I mentioned this to the woman that works in the haberdashery near my house she looked horrified though. So for my next coat I need to make sure I use the ‘correct’ interfacing and underlining for the fabric I’m using. But while it might not be the perfect finish in terms of supporting the structure of the wool, I’m still really happy with this coat and how it turned out, and that’s the most important thing.

An in progress shot and a ‘time to bag the lining’ shot – the best part when it all comes together!

My previous adventures in sewing outerwear: in 2016 I had a go at making a raincoat using the free (at the time anyway) Rita pattern from Make my Lemonade, I loved how it turned out but the fabric I used is such poor quality and the armholes are so tight so I very rarely wear it;  I previously made a coat in 2015 using a self-drafted pattern – I love that coat as it is very far from done properly but when I look at it I just see all the energy and enthusiasm I had to work out how to do it and it reminds me of that time in my life so I love it; and in 2014 I made the République du Chiffon Gérard coat which I still wear and love too. Now I’m really happy to add this Yates coat to the gang!

Bathing Bombshells Suki Robe

In that stage between getting up and getting dressed, I generally wear a big jumper over my pyjamas. But in the summer when it is so hot the last thing you want near your skin is anything that resembles a jumper! So this year I thought it was time to sew something lighter to put on over pyjamas – handy for when the postman calls.

I’ve never been a massive fan of dressing gowns though – I don’t know why but they just always feel like strange transition garments to me – you might as well just get dressed! But when I saw the Helen’s Closet Suki Robe pattern I thought it was the perfect pattern to try. And I’m really happy with how it turned out! The instructions were great and the only tricky part I found was the front band.

I’ve been hoarding this fabric for years so I’m glad to finally use and and make something special with it. It was bought on Goldhawk Road in London when I went there on a fabric pilgrimage a few years ago.

This is too nice to wear just inside though, isn’t it? So I’ll probably also be wearing it with tights and boots very soon too.


Everybody’s on top of the pops

This summer my sewing has revolved mostly around the Teahouse dress pattern from Sew House Seven! I made my first version back in May and this summer I made three more versions of the dress which have all been in heavy rotation – and continue to be but with tights now!

Here is my ‘Top of the Pops’ Teahouse pattern hits of the summer countdown!

In at number 3 we have…the everyday version!
I made this dress to wear in lots of different situations. The fabric is not too flimsy so I’m not worried about it getting caught and ripping, and the pattern is also quite forgiving if I spill something on it or get bike chain oil on it! Fabric was bought a few years ago at Gare du Midi market. Here are some photos of it from this summer when I visited Bath.

And at number 2 it is…the dreamy version!
This one I looove – it’s a light floaty viscose from the Fabric Godmother I bought a few months ago – and I’m so happy with how it turned out!

But at number 1 it is…the heatwave version!
I adapted the pattern to make a sleeveless version in July for the various heatwaves we had this year…and it is ticking all the summer dress boxes for me. It’s really comfy and the low back means there is lots of space for air to flow to keep you cool. Fabric is cotton saved from the the bargain bin (2 euro a metre…) at ‘Passion Tissus’ in Saint-Gilles, Bruxelles. I also wore it on my Bath trip – here I am posing in front of the Parade Gardens.