Bonne Année

My Christmas holidays were largely spent occupying my parent’s dining room with sewing and pattern tracing activities. Here is a photo of my nearly finished Violet blouse. Really happy with the collar and just the buttons to do now! Will do a post on the finished item soon.

So at the calendar’s turn 2014 has arrived and with it the chance to reflect on what has passed and look towards what is to come, but this year I’m going to try not to put any pressure on myself and let what happens happen!

So I won’t set any unrealistic sewing goals, I’ll just take this advice from Lladybird and make sure to use my time effectively to sew whenever possible. I do disagree with her on one point though, I don’t believe you should finish every project, if it is not working out or you realise you won’t ever wear it – abandon ship! Life’s too short. You could adapt it into something else or salvage the material and use it for a future project.

The main thing I’ll try to do is keep in mind that I want to learn dressmaking because I enjoy it and not make it into something stressful.

I also read this quote recently from American author Ira Glass (as quoted in Tavi’s Rookiemag January Editor’s letter) and I think it is really interesting:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

When I read it I really felt it applied a lot to my relationship with sewing, I’m constantly thinking I’m not ‘good enough’ etc. but I’m actually just disappointed because I’ve set high standards for myself! But rather than feel despondent I should use this feeling of wanting to improve to drive me to make more! And we should all pat ourselves on the back for trying as even if it doesn’t feel like it we are improving. Look at the first thing you made and look at the last. I remember a time when I couldn’t even sew a zip, something I can do automatically now, let alone set in a sleeve or a collar! I remember when I didn’t press any seams! So the only way is up! I’m just going to try and enjoy the journey and not make myself ill trying.

So I hope 2014 is a happy and peaceful year for you!

p.s. I think making new years resolutions is totally ok if it works for you but here is a really interesting post (from a non-sewing blog) that says if we want to do something or make a change in our lives we can do it anytime!

p.p.s. Very much looking forward to taking part in the Belgian/Dutch sewing blogger meet up on 18 January!

Solstice sewing

beignet preparation
It’s the shortest day of the year and I’m putting together the Beignet and Violet patterns from Colette patterns. Quite a long process so looking forward to getting to the cutting out and sewing!
What do you prefer – PDF print at home or pattern in the post?

An epic small bust adjustment story…Part 3

Truffle Dress

Here is my third and final post on this topic (for now at least!) where I’ll show you how I carry out SBAs on bodices with darts using the Truffle dress from the Colette Sewing Handbook as an example.

Step by Step example on darts: Truffle Dress by Colette Patterns

Mark the bust point. I extended lines through both dart points to find the bust point on the Truffle dress.

2) You’ve also just drawn your first slash line, from the waist through the centre of the dart to the bust point. You’ll use the line through the side seam dart later on.

3) Draw a slash line from the bust point to the armhole.

4) Mark a hinge point 1.5cm from the edge (or whatever your seam allowance amount is).

5) Then put some tape over the bust point and over the hinge point at the armhole.

6) Cut along the line from the waist through the bust point and up to the armhole hinge point.

7) Mark a point 3cm* inwards from the bust point ( towards the centre front). Then swing the pattern piece over to that point. Secure with some tape.
*Amount that needs to be removed. The pattern bust size (84cm) minus my bust size (78cm) = 6cm excess to be removed. Divide this figure by two = 3cm to be removed on each side of the bodice front piece.

8) Cut the slash line through the side seam dart to just before the bust point (don’t forget to leave a hinge).

9) Then swing this lower front section upwards to move the waist line back to its original position. In doing so you will be moving the side seam dart leg points. See comparison between original position of dart in this photo…
…and the new narrower dart in this one.


10) You can extend the dart point to nearer the bust point. Redraw the dart with its new leg points. You might need to reshape the side seam here to ensure that it is smooth. If necessary you can fold the dart closed as if it was being sewn to find the new side seam.

11) For the waistline, you can either redraw the dart, or as I did with the Truffle dress, eliminate it altogether.
The most important thing is that the finished waistline length remains the same as in the original pattern. When redrawing the waistline the most important thing is to make sure the pattern piece will line up with the corresponding skirt section. I have drawn in two options for the waistline. The higher one is the one I used as I think the lower centre front section needs to be brought up as this will help remove some of the excess.

And here are some photos of my finished Truffle dress:


As you can see I omitted the front drape as I didn’t think it was necessary for this slightly more structured style. I love the texture of this great fabric, which I acquired in the July sale at Maison des Tissus (Chaussée d’Ixelles 117, 1050 Ixelles).

It would be interesting to make the Truffle dress in a different type of fabric for a more flowing style.

I’m really happy with the final fit of this dress and the bodice adjustment. I’m also realising that when it comes to bodice darts the style that fits best for me is side seam darts and no waist darts, this was also the case for the 60s style dress pattern I drafted in the summer.

Phew! That was indeed an epic three-part saga. Time for tea.


Toile cirée sewing machine cover


The white plastic sewing machine dust cover that came with my sewing machine, which is now (frighteningly) going on 7 years old, was long past its sell by date so I decided to fashion a new one out of some ‘toile cirée’ which I have a lot of from an old tablecloth! The best translation for ‘toile cirée‘ in English is ‘oil cloth’ or ‘vinyl cloth’, but I’d probably just call it a ‘plastic tablecloth’.

I simply drafted a quick pattern based on the shape of the old cover and then sewed it up.

Here it is cut out before I sewed it up. You could make one for your own machine by following this model making sure that the pattern corresponds to your machine measurements. I also drafted a facing for the handle area to finish the edges off.


It was fun to use such a thick fabric and to make something that is not for wearing for a change!




I made the Meringue skirt this weekend from the Colette Sewing Handbook, but as you’ll have noticed my version does not feature the signature scallop edge. Although I cut it out with the scallop edge, unfortunately it didn’t look right when I sewed it all together so I decided to just chop it off. I’m quite pleased with the result, but I would like to have another go at the scallop and be less slap dash this time! Or maybe life is too short for scalloped edges?!