Sew it up – au revoir !

  Unfortunately I was voted off Sew it up! 🙁

Really gutted to be eliminated in the first week but that’s the way it goes, someone has to ‘go home’.


Thanks to everyone who voted for me anyway and a huuuge thank you to Hanne and Caroline for selecting me as a participant, that in itself made my year and gave me loads of confidence in my sewing. And for that I am very grateful.


Can’t wait to see how the competition pans out and all the garments the remaining girls will make. Good luck everyone! I’m still going to sew-a-long as I’ve got most of my outfits planned so look out for them on my blog.



So now I don’t have any sewing deadlines looming, I’ll take the opportunity to catch up on the Liebster inter-blogger awards! I was nominated by Laura, Kim, and Hanne! Thanks so much! I cheated and answered a selection of questions from all their blogs rather than answering all the questions, so as to avoid duplicates (and questions I don’t really have an answer to!).

In turn, I nominate the following bloggers to answer some of the questions below if
they feel like it!

Sue from Sewin’ Steady:

Sue from Lady
Fran from Fileuse Anglaise:

Ellebougies from Under Alteration:

Lynne from Ozzy Blackbeard:

When and why did you take up sewing?

I started around 2007 but I only really got going around 2012. I sew both for the pleasure of making original clothes and reducing unnecessary consumption, and it helps me to be patient and creative. I also love just getting totally absorbed in a project because you don’t think about anything else. It is quite meditative I think.

Do you follow trends, or do you just sew things that you like?
I’d say I just sew things I like really! But I think we all follow trends in a sense, even if we don’t think we do!

What’s the thing that annoys you the most about the sewing process?
In a way the things that annoy me are also the things I like because the more I do them I feel like I’m conquering them!

What are you working on right now?
I’ve just finished what would have been my entry for the second round of Sew it Up! To be revealed soon!
Other WIPs are a Coco dress that is cut out and waiting in the wings, and some Grainline Maritime shorts.

Out of all the things you’ve ever made, what is your favourite?
My week 1 entry for Sew it Up could be my new favourite because it felt quite adventurous. It was unchartered sewing territory!

How many pieces of fabric do you have in your stash? Is it tidy?
It ain’t tidy. I’ve got two boxes, plus lots of farbic stuffed into the shelves under my pattern cutting table on wheels! I’m doing Lelie from A Bouquet of Buttons’s Stashbusting challenge this year, and so far it’s going sort of ok. I’ve not stuck to the challenge very strictly but I have given away fabric, binned stuff that is really past it and (sometimes) restrained myself from buying fabric that I really don’t need.

When planning a new project, do you start with a pattern you want to make, or a fabric you’d like to wear?
Depends, probably a pattern or an idea of a style and then I see what fabric I have that would work with it, or I go outand hunt for some fabric that will work.

What is the best piece of advice (sewing or otherwise) you’ve been given?
Sewing: Measure twice; cut once. Otherwise: This too shall pass.

Do you have any other hobbies, apart from sewing and blogging? Cycling, reading, running, seeing friends, writing, languages, politics, economics, playing the flute, music in general, and doing new things like going to exhibitions etc.

What is your favourite type of sewing project?
Like Kim, one that teaches me something new.

Who taught you to sew?
The internet!

What is your favourite colour / fabric to sew with? Anything orange. Nothing too slidy.

Where are you from?
A lovely small town in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland.

What makes you happy?
Both when a day goes to plan and when a day leads somewhere unexpected.

What makes you sad?
The deep pretentious answer: the ephemeral and fleeting nature of life; injustice in the world. Theshort answer: cars that don’t respect cyclists.

What is your dream job?
My dream job is to be a roving reporter for Agenda magazine. I have this fantasy that working for them would just be great as you would spendall day out and about visiting things in Brussels, trying out restaurants,
and going to concerts (I realise this is a false idealistic vision of journalism).

What is the the dress pattern you would recommend the most?
Belladone – Deer and Doe.

What’s the worst thing you have ever made and why?
I’ve a long colourful history of awful makes….but I’m quite attached to them all the same.

Where and what would your ultimate holiday be?
I’m really bad at thinking of where I’d like to travel to…kind of everywhere and nowhere if I’m truly honest. I’ve been wanting to visit Berlin for ages. The thing with living in a country that is not your home country is that you tend to spend most of your travel time going home. So, sad as it might sound, Scotland is probably my favourite holiday destination!

Are you a morning person or not?
Yes, I love getting up early and making the most of the day! But sometimes it is nice to sleep in if your body tells you that’s what it wants. It’s good to remind yourself that productivity isn’t the be all and end all. The best ideas happen when you just take things easy.

Sew it up: week 1

The challenge:
Customise the pattern: Make your own version of the Jackie Jacket by La Maison Victor. Use your creativity to transform this pattern into something awesome and true to your style. You’ll also have to make an additional skirt, dress or pants, but you can choose whatever pattern you want for those. This challenge is all aboutpersonal style.

My entry:


Inspiration for the challenge:

When I saw the Jackie pattern I knew I wanted to transform the Chanel-style sophisticated cut to something a bit more ‘twee’, without being overtly so; a bit bookish without being too ‘librarian chic’. The peter pan collar and the ‘spaghetti’ strap style of the accompanying dress make it a bit childish, and the tweed and the dipped hem on the skirt make it more grown up, I think. I love strong colour details (particularly orange and yellow hues) that make a fairly standard garment more exciting to wear. I didn’t mean to make something that alluded to my Scottish roots but the tweed-effect wool and the Paisley pattern fabric seem to do just that.

The jacket:


I decided it would be better with a peter pan collar!
Here’s the method I used to make mine:

1. Cut out two collar pattern pieces (you can draft your own using your jacket pattern pieces for the shape of the inner collar and for the shape of the outer part of the collar you can just freehand it or use the shape of an existing collar you have on another garment). You can also cut out a layer of interfacing, I didn’t because it was already quite bulky. Make sure you have enough piping to go around the outside of the collar. I made the piping by sandwiching some cord into a strip of satin using my zipper foot.

2.Sew on the piping to the right side of one of the pieces as so.

3. Sandwich the piping in by sewing the other collar piece on top.

4. Clip the seams, turn it right sides out and press. Now you have a peter pan collar!

I also drafted lining pieces for the jacket and used the same yellow satin as the collar piping. The yellow satin was 2.50 euro a metre in Berger.


To attach the lining I sewed the lining pieces right sides together to the front bodice and neckline facings. Then I attached the sleeve linings seperately (I looked up the Anise sew-a-long for advice on how to do this). The method I used means you start at the cuff which gives you a clean finish and then you just have to hand stitch the sleeve lining pieces to the bodice lining at the armholes. It was a bit fiddly but it worked out!

I reshaped the corners of the centre front bodice pieces to make them rounder, to match the shape of the collar.

I made the jacket tighter at the back as it was a bit gapy on me when I made the muslin.

I also extended the front bodice to make it wider so I could add buttons and buttonholes so that it can be closed up: it does after all get windy and chilly in Brussels sometimes, as you can see in the photos!


This is the first time I’ve made a jacket, the first time I’ve worked with relatively thick ‘wool’, the first time I’ve worked with satin, and…the first time I’ve sewed a pattern with the instructions all in Dutch! 🙂 I hope I didn’t miss any important ‘Let op!’ (Attention!) instructions. But I figured that if you know the basics of how a pattern works all you really need to know is whether the seam allowances are included or not, luckily I found where the reference to this was in the booklet – now I can add ‘naadwaarden’ to my ever-growing Dutch vocabulary. (And they were not included, so remember to add them if you make up this pattern.)

I’m really pleased with the jacket all in all, in fact I’m quite proud of it! I’ll definitely wear it a lot! Thanks to Sew it Up for pushing me to try something new. The pattern is a really great basic pattern from which you can go in lots of different directions. Next time I’d press the seams better though, this was the trickiest part with the wool. Perhaps I could really do with getting a tailor’s ham (or making one).

The fabric is actually much more of a brown colour, yet the photos make it look quite grey.

It came from the Marché des Abattoirs in Anderlecht from one of the stalls that I’ve seen a few times now on a Friday (on the left hand side when you enter the market from the Clemenceau metro exit). When I asked the man if he had any wool or material for jackets he said he didn’t put it out because it was the wrong season but that if I wanted I could rummage around in his van and have a look. I then spent 15 minutes looking through the material in the van and he let me have four different wool blends (each several metres long) for 15 euros. It was nothing short of a bargain. So with all the wool I have in my stash now I’ve no excuse not to make more jackets!


The dress



I used my modified Flora dress bodice (see my previous post on my Flora dress to find out about the changes I made to the pattern) and drafted a quarter circle skirt to go with it, using this method.

oooo flat felled seams….


I added yellow piping to the seam when joining the bodice and the skirt pieces. It is fully lined in cotton
batiste. I altered the hem to make it a dipped hem, in the same vein as variation 2 of the original Flora pattern.The fabric is a cotton paisley print that was bought in Edinburgh last summer from the Cloth Shop.


Can’t wait to see everyone’s versions! Whoo Sew it up! If you like my jacket you can vote here!

Sew it up!


Some very very exciting news: I’m one of the 6 lucky participants in Sew it up! I was so happy to be chosen!

Sew it up is a new Belgian/Dutch online sewing competition organised by Hanne and Caroline

Read more about the competition, the challenges, and the super prizes!

The other participants are:
Anneke of Annette Tirette
Eleonore of The most wondrous hours of Miss Symforosa.
Erika of Dradig
Kim of Rêves Mécanique
Laurence of P’tits Monstres

So stay tuned for my Week 1 Sew it Up entry next week!

Veel succes everyone! Can’t wait to see what everyone makes! 🙂

Hanging out with Flora on the roof



So what have I been up to of late? Making the By Hand London Flora dress as part of the sew-along!

It seemed like an appropriate time of the season to make up this latest By Hand London pattern, named after Flora goddess of spring, as spring is certainly here in Brussels (well, it is in full swing in our house anyway, with all the doors open, lots of time spent on the terrace, and a general feeling of hysteria in the air.)

Before I even went near any fabric I carried out a small bust adjustment (SBA) on the variation 2 front bodice piece. Check out the BHL post on this or read my previous post on carrying out an SBA on a bodice with darts.

Then I made up a muslin in some fabric that was salvaged from a huge weird kafkan thing I got at the fleamarket for a mere 3 euros. It is a very wearable muslin and I’ll post about it when I finish the matching shorts I am making with the leftover fabric!

But although the muslin fit me fine I decided that for ‘the real deal’ I would drasticly modify the bodice as the high neckline of variation 2 didn’t really suit me, yet I wasn’t keen on the wrap style in variation 1 either.

I re-drafted the neckline, made thin straps, lowered the back bodice, and redrafted the back dart into a princess seam which I sewed using a flat-felled seam. The fabric I used is a salmon cotton poplin with a raised textured ridge effect, and the dress is fully lined in a really nice pink cotton-silk blend.

I also took the time to really fit the garment by redoing the zip twice so that it was not too loose. I’m glad I decided to rip it up and start again as it does fit me perfectly now at the back.



This was definitely one of those projects that goes totally against the whole Wardrobe Architect idea. It is definitely not something I will wear very often. But then sewing doesn’t always have to be practical and sensible. Sometimes you just need to hang out in your bedroom for a while and pretend it’s couture week on the GBSB.

All in all I really really enjoyed making this, it was a good challenge! I’m entering this dress into the BHL Flora competition, the prize is a shiny overlocker! Such a brilliant prize, I would love to win one! 🙂

Here are some more shots of me larking around on the rooftops of Saint-Gilles!




“You saw my nice lining, right?

An unintentional GBSB fangirl shirt


Not in any way my intention at the outset when I started mulling over ideas about what to do with an oversized old men’s shirt this week, but I ended up working on a sewing project that turned into what I’m dubbing my ‘GBSB fangirl extravaganza’. Why so I hear you ask? Well, firstly, because the three main construction/drafting techniques I used have all been featured on this series of the programme, and secondly, because the fabric bears a striking resemblance to the dress featured in the opening credits!


This shirt was given to me by a friend ages ago and because it was way too big it was lurking in my ‘donate or recycle’ pile. I really liked the print so I was reluctant to part with it and I knew I wanted to refashion it into a better fitting shirt. The main reason I’m becoming a big fan of recycling shirts that are too big into ones that fit is to avoid sewing buttonholes as I really have trouble working the buttonhole function on my machine – this way I can recycle the
buttonholes and buttons by positioning the front bodice pieces accordingly.


Rather than make another Violet shirt from it, I wanted to challenge myself to try something I’d not done before so I decided to try tracing a pattern off from a shirt I like the fit of, as the GBSB contestants were required to do in this week’s semi-final. This project also required me to draft a sleeve from scratch which I’d never done before, also a technique the sewers were tested on this week. And the final GBSB parallel was my first ever attempt at flat felled seams, which we saw the contestants tackle in episode 4.

Not that my efforts are in any way near the same league as Chinelo’s amazing pleats on her sleeve adaption or her organza party dress, Tamara’s yoga outfit, or the beautiful flat-felled seams on show in the child’s dungaree challenge (my favourite pair were Jenni’s!), but it did make me happy all the same to ‘take part’ like this. The programme is really well produced as the challenges and techniques are things that reflect the challenges home sewers do actually set themselves and it inspires viewers to give things a go that they might not have come across otherwise – I’d never heard of flat felled seams before, for example. But I won’t look back now – I think that the flat felled seam, like its cousin the French seam, is so useful, particularly for those of use without an overlocker.

>>>> Replicating a garment: some tips

– I had a good look at the shirt I wanted to replicate and I noted down what pattern pieces I needed. (I omitted the collar.)

– Using tracing paper and a rotary wheel I traced off each piece by laying it flat and doing my best to accurately trace from the exiting garment through to the tracing paper. You can run the rotary cutter along the seams being careful not to mark the fabric.

– Remember to add on your seam allowances to the pattern piece.

– For accuracy, measure carefully your seams on the garment with a tape measure and make sure your pattern pieces
correspond both to the garment and to each other where they need to join up.

– Depending on the garment there are a few ways to do the tracing – as we saw on GBSB – but the key is to take your
time and measure the pieces.

Obviously the trickiest part of imitating a shirt is the sleeve as you can’t really lay it flat without cutting up the existing garment – and given that the idea is to replicate a favourite garment you’re probably going to be reluctant to do that!

– The important thing is that your new sleeve fits accurately your new front and back pattern pieces.

I’m going to explain how I drafted a set-in sleeve pattern for existing front and back bodice pattern pieces in a future post. I think that as well as for imitating sleeves that can’t be laid out flat, this method can also be useful for when you want to draft a sleeve for a sleeveless pattern, or if the sleeve for your pattern is gathered, for example, and you’d like it to be set-in.

IMG_0998And so ends my mini-GBSB sew-along-at-home fangirl extravaganza.

Here is a nice behind the scenes article about GBSB.

Good luck to Chinelo, Heather, and Tamara in the final!