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Sing the greys

When I bought my overlocker machine a few years ago (from the loveliest people that run the ‘Espace machines à coudre’ sewing machine shop at 154 Chausée d’Ixelles, Brussels) the lady there gave me one of my favourite tips ever: use grey thread! As advice goes it might not sound that life-changing, but it was a great (small) revelation for me. I wasn’t sure how much thread I’d get through on my overlocker (given the spools are bigger than on a sewing machine) so I didn’t want to buy a huge selection of colours – also, no one wants to change the thread on their overlocker machine all the time. So she recommended I go for grey thread as it goes with everything. And, wow, was she right. I pretty much stick to this ‘rule’ now and mostly use grey thread for all sewing – both on the sewing machine and overlocker. I love the way it looks against all colours of fabric, dark and light. And it seems better to have a smaller selection of colours and work with them, rather than having a huge collection of colours to perfectly match all fabric colours. Obviously there will be some instances and on some more transparent fabrics where you really need and want matching thread, but I’m talking about for general stitching when you can’t see your stitches.

And recently the grey thread advice has seeped into my fabric choices too. I’ve made two grey jumpers this year (as yet unblogged) and I made this dress at the beginning of 2019, so thought it was time to post about it. It’s the Martha dress from Tilly and the Buttons. You can’t see them so well in these pictures but the bell sleeves are a really nice shape.

If I make this pattern again I would work a bit on the fit at the back neckline but all in all I’m happy with it. I actually have no recollection of where the fabric comes from (eeek, not good – trying to be way more mindful about buying fabric these days) but it’s been in my stash for a while and is a lovely soft and drapey cotton with a bit of stretch in it. These pictures were taken by my lovely friend Grace last February (!) when we had a worrying heatwave on a lovely Saturday afternoon down by the canal when we went to the Mima museum.

The title of this post is the name of a 2006 song from Scottish band Frightened Rabbit. It’s been over a year since lead singer Scott Hutchison very sadly took his own life, on 10 May 2018.  His family have set up ‘Make Tiny Changes‘ a Scottish mental health charity set up in Scott’s memory with a focus on young people and children. And if you don’t know the music of Frightened Rabbit yet, go and listen, you are in for a treat. So whether it is in grey or in another hue, we can all make the world a more colourful place – and “make tiny changes” as Scott sung.

One (pair of) cigarette (pants) in the non-smoker’s tray

Just casually hanging around, you know.

I worked on these trousers for a very very long time! I think it was in November/December last year when I started drafting my own trouser block and then doing various trial and error toiles to experiment with fit. I worked on them on and off and, voila enfin, they are done!

I used pinstripe suiting fabric that I’d used before for this dungaree dress in 2017. I had originally bought the fabric with some ‘cigarette pants‘-style trousers like these in mind so I’m glad I finally got them out of my head and through the sewing machine! The fabric is a wool/blend suiting and comes from Gold Fingers on Boulevard Anspach.

I’m not 100% happy with the fit – I think they could be a little less snug in the thighs but it’s also because I’m not used to wearing trousers – I feel so strapped in! Also, the fabric does not have that much body to it so they are a little stiff. But I’m glad I have a good fitted trouser pattern now that I can adapt to other styles.

And I’m so into the shape of the pockets!

And because the outside should be as pretty as the inside, I used a ‘Hong Kong’ finish on the side seams with some nice satin binding.

The closure is a lapped zip in the side seam with a spring snap. For the construction order, I followed this amazing lapped zipper tutorial from Closet Case Patterns – as I did for some shorts I made last year.

And talking of Closet Case Patterns, I also made another Kalle shirt – which I’ve untucked here so you can see it better. This is my third version of this pattern (hello number 1 and number 2). I adapted the neckline slightly for this one so it sits flat – it is a sort of bias binding sandwich finish! I love the pairing of the yellow buttons and the red fabric – some classic Atelier Brunette ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ fabric I bought a few years ago in Paris and which I’ve been keeping for something special ever since. Well, you can’t take fabric with you, so I decided to stop hoarding it and that this was as good a time as any to use it. I really like it and hopefully I’ll get a lot of wear out of it.

And if you are wondering what the title of this post is all about then it’s time to read some Edwin Morgan poetry!

Just like honey(comb)

I made a Honeycomb dress by Cocowawa crafts and I can report it is a very sweet pattern, just like honey. I’d seen lots of lovely versions online and I was curious about the construction. As I said in my previous post, I’m curious about patterns with ties rather than zip closures. The Honeycomb’s gathered skirt is cinched in thanks to two front ties on both sides. I definitely could have sewn my gathers better but gathering is not my strong point.

It’s such a comfy dress to wear and it feels both dressed up and dressed down at the same time.

The fabric I used was bought on a wee trip to Amsterdam with my sister in 2017 – I found about 3 metres of it at the bottom of a remnant bin and took pity on it and decided to give it a home. For a while I regretted buying it as I couldn’t think what to make with it. But it was the perfect fabric to try out a new pattern on, and see if I could get at least a wearable muslin out of it.

But luckily, I got a full on dress I love! The fabric is very light flowy corduroy/needlecord that could possibly be curtain fabric.


Tea House Dress of dreams

You know when you make something and at the end you have the ‘ok this is why I sew’ feeling? Well, I had that feeling big time making this dress. And as we all know, that feeling is certainly not a given with sewing – or any hobby you really care about.

The pattern is the Tea House Dress from Sew House Seven – and I. LOVE. IT.

The dress ties together with a waist tie and drapes really nicely, there are no fastenings, no gathers, and loose sleeves. I’m not a massive fan of gathers or elastic, and while I do love a zip and some buttons, the chance of messing those up – whether in terms of fit or finishing – is high. You can’t really mess up the fit of a dress that just pulls in with a waist belt. It’s the type of dress I know I’ll be able to make in both ‘everyday’ versions and in a fancier fabric for a wedding, for example.

The fabric is ‘Ledding Viscose Twill – Mustard’ from Fabric Godmother which I bought myself as a Christmas present – the first time I ever bought fabric online, I think. It’s gorgeous and I just love the colour.

The waist belt I used is a trim I bought in Chien Vert with no particular plan for, I think the deep blue spots go really well with the yellow. First of all I used a different trim for the belt which didn’t work at all as it was too poofy when tied at the back, so I unpicked everything to change it for this and I’m so glad I did.

This dress also made me think of the relationship between the design of a pattern and sustainability in terms of how often you might need to wash the garment. Obviously this is very personal and everyone is different, but as this is not really ‘all up in my armpits’ I don’t feel it needs washed as often. Definitely an aspect to consider when choosing patterns with sustainability in mind.

Did I mention I love this pattern? I’ve got two more versions cut out already – this pattern will hopefully help me do some serious fabric stashbusting.

Here is a photo burst – couldn’t get my camera to properly focus in some of these but you can still see the dress 🙂


All over the Ophelia overalls

I’d been looking for a dungaree pattern for a while when I came across the Ophelia Overalls from Decades of Style’s Everyday range and I was immediately drawn to the original design. They are roomy and loose, but straps and D-rings at the side cinch them in a bit at the waist. I love the big pockets on the side. I took up the hem by about 11cm so they would skim my ankles and I think it is a length that looks nice with sandals or boots. I hardly ever wear trousers so they do take a bit of getting used to for me but I’ve been wearing them loads since I finished them a few weeks ago! While having a wide trouser leg feels a bit odd sometimes to me and I have to hike them up a bit when I’m on my bike, all in all they are an absolute dream to wear and I don’t know how I lived without them before!

And can we talk about this lovely mustard yellow corduroy?! Like lots of other sewists, I certainly am a sucker for the mustard yellow. I bought this fabric in Pauli Stoffen in Leuven (best fabric shop in Belgium!) in January. The Ophelia overalls pattern envelope design even has one of the illustrations in yellow corduroy, so it was meant to be! It was so lovely to sew with and I’ve got loads left over so I plan to make some dungarees for my cousin’s wee baby.

I really took my time to make these dungarees and one thing I did was spend a lot of time researching and sourcing my hardware. I used spring snaps for the closures at the side seams, this is the first time I’ve had any success with spring snaps and finally finding some that work for me was so satisfying! After a LOT of research I bought some spring snaps and set in tools from the Laughing Lizard Store on Etsy. I’ve never mastered those annoying Prym plyers and I find it so frustrating that most sewing shops sell plastic snaps or, at best, quite bad quality ring snaps. Closet Case Patterns has an excellent read about the difference between spring and ring snaps and how to install them.

One thing I’ve definitely learnt when it comes to trying to be as sustainable as possible with your sewing is that it is better to take three months to make something and really make sure it is well made and that you’ll wear it, rather than bash something out only for it to languish in your wardrobe.

Can’t wait to make more things with spring snaps!