Pack Up Your Troubles

After struggling to get back into the right frame of mind for sewing after completing The Wedding Guest Dress, I opted to try out my bag-making skills for a change and, hopefully, a rather easy project. I knew the kind of bag I wanted to make – basically, one with lots of pockets because that’s my favourite type of bag – and I knew what fabric I was going to use (some blue and white striped cotton pique I’d originally bought to make Karl a polo shirt but then realised it was too heavy).

I flicked through some back issues of Love Sewing magazine and found a design for a Cath Kidson-inspired bag that featured tons of pockets. Below is a montage of the projects in that issue (Issue 27) and the bag is the second photo in from the left:


(Apologies that I couldn’t find a better photo of it but I couldn’t be asked to try to find my physical copy of the issue again just for the sake of this post!)

As usual, I started off following the pattern and then got side-tracked and did my own thing. I also put it off for a long time before picking it back up again. That was kind of a problem because I forgot which pieces I’d cut out… And I was so excited to use my overlocker to make impenetrable seams that I started that part too early and had to unpick/snip a load.

Because I’ve used cotton and not oilcloth like the pattern suggests, my bag is a lot floppier than the original but I knew this would be the case and I’m fine with it. The aim was to make a very relaxed, beach-ready bag that could be filled to the brim with all the lazing-on-the-beach essentials. Never-mind that I live practically at the centre of England and my nearest beach is about 100 miles away…

Oh well, at least it’s easy to grab for those spur-of-the-moment-100-mile-car-journeys!


I actually reduced the number of pockets (I know, insane, right?) because I wasn’t sure the bag would balance very well otherwise so I just kept the three along the front and then one inside.

I love the pink straps. The colour combo is very ‘Jack Wills’, which, living as I did for so long in very preppy-dressed Exeter, is hardly a surprise. (Seriously, that city’s population looks as though JW threw up on it).


But what I have that JW doesn’t is some cute penguin cotton for the lining! 🙂


I added the customary Creative Little Cwtch label on the inside and, for a little bit of fun, sewed on a motif I bought from My Fabrics in their sale, which fits the beachy/nautical theme!

It’s not a perfect sew in any sense of the word – some of my top-stitching is very wonky and just in ‘normal’ thread rather than anything thicker – but it’s good to finally finish a project and if it’s only going to get fictitious sand in it why waste tons of time on it?!

Montage time…



(Blue and white cotton pique fabric from Regency Rags; Pink cotton webbing from HaberCrafts; Can’t remember where I got the penguin cotton fabric from – sorry.)

A Beautiful Welsh Summer Wedding

On Thursday I watched one of my best friends of eight years marry her childhood sweetheart in a beautiful Welsh wedding in the shadows of the Brecon Beacons. She looked stunning in her sweeping, lace gown which perfectly complimented her petite figure and warm tan. But most beautiful of all was her beaming smile, which I don’t think left her face all day! 😀

It’s not for me to post photos of someone else’s wedding online for all to see so you’ll just have to take my word for it that it was beautiful. 🙂 But I am able to share with you a few photos of my finished Wedding Guest Dress, which I finished in the nick of time!

As a recap, I used New Look 6401 as a base pattern but I made some adjustments to suit my style and tastes. First, I adjusted the bodice to ensure a better fit on my figure, and I decided the back would meet at a higher point than the original pattern. The long, drapey ties for the bow at the back were lengthened further and a ‘peek-a-boo’ back was added towards the final stages as I struggled to get the fit to work otherwise. I added a narrow band under the bust to connect it to the skirt rather than attaching the skirt directly to the bodice as, again, I felt it complimented my shape more. I used a very narrow hem to ensure the gown was floor-length at the front and had a short train at the back (which was repeatedly trodden on by other guests but I loved it so it was worth the hassle!). I also added a side-seam split on the left-hand side to ensure there was plenty of movement for dancing! I managed to avoid any fastenings whatsoever so I was pleased!

So, here it is! 🙂

Dress front Dress front2

And now for the back…


I don’t think it’s quite as clear in these photos as in reality how the back looks as the bow had dropped a bit – probably because I’d been seated beforehand. I really didn’t think that part through, I realised; I had to sit against a knot for the entire day!! 😉 Hopefully, you can just see that there’s a band of fabric across the bra-line (for the precise reason of hiding a normal bra so I didn’t have to wear an uncomfortable ‘invisible’ one all day!) and then there’s a ‘peek-a-boo’ gap, which I added when I had trouble with the fit of the waistband.

The night before the wedding I was holidaying with family in North Wales and so I was able to model my dress to my Grandma. Here reaction was priceless and so meaningful to me! She proudly paraded me to another caravan (yes – I strutted around a caravan park in this get-up, which led to a few funny looks!) to show some other family members. It was a relief as I was nervous by this point that I’d totally misjudged the dress and would look like a complete idiot at the wedding and be quite clearly the guest who had made her own outfit. Crippling self-doubt is a very common problem for me.


I had the cutest shoes from Debenhams to wear with the dress, which were a lucky find in a sale a couple of days before. I’d also had Shellac nails done at a salon as my nails are always painfully ugly so what better way to compliment them than with a 10-minute clutch bag make?! Basically, I looked at clutches but couldn’t find one I liked so I envisioned making one. Needless to say I left it too late in the day to make my ideal bag so I tried to think outside the box… I grabbed a cushion cover from my car that had been waiting to go to a charity shop for weeks and quickly whipped up a perfect-sized sparkly clutch! One press stud and a bit of cardboard (for rigidity) later and hey presto! What do you think?


The Wedding Guest Dress: Part 3 – Bust Out Those Darts

Warning: This post contains unflattering images and naked underarms… 😬

Trying to work out where bust darts should go when you have to self-pin is a tad tricky…! Maybe I should have bought a dressform rather than an overlocker!


The pattern doesn’t call for darts but I’m bigger busted than the pattern and don’t know how else to overcome the issue so darts it is! 😝 Gotta love a good dart. Or two. Two tends to be better otherwise you’d be a bit lopsided.

I also need to alter the neckline at the front. I mean, this is a daytime wedding! 🙈

That’s an easy little fix though.

These photos show the inside of the garment by the way, though it’s pretty much the same on the outside; just flowers in different places.

Wedding Guest Dress Part 2. Translating My Toile into Pattern Pieces

I’ve spent a looooong afternoon cutting out pattern pieces and I can say with certainty that this fabric is a slippery little so-and-so, which makes me nervous about sewing it up! However, for now we’ll pretend that’s not going to be an issue…

So, I chopped up my toile along the seam lines and used these to create templates. As the photos below show, the final toile and the initial pattern pieces I had worked from weren’t all that different but there were some changes;


After seam allowances there’s not much in the differences so it was flattering to learn my very first Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) was fairly accurate! The photo on the right shows my toile on top of the FBA template I made.

These are the completed templates. The solid black outline doesn’t have seam allowances so the red dashes and black dots are where I measured 1.5cm (black dots) or 1cm (red dashes) for the seams.


I cut out my first ‘set’ and took the time to pattern match the side seam before realising the dart I’d added to the bust made that a fruitless pursuit! I also realised that I needed to add more length to the front bodice section along the side seam, so I added a bit to my template;


Then came what seemed like hours of smoothing, pinning, cutting, refining and duplicating. Luckily, the F1 was on so I had something to keep me entertained (Vettel won! Yay!) but it was still a tedious job. I cut each piece out separately as well, rather than cutting two at a time by folding the fabric because the slipperiness made me wary. I chose to line the bodice in the same fabric for a couple of reasons, including that I don’t have any navy lining fabric to hand but I don’t want to delay the project any further…!

Unfortunately, when you’re working on a full length dress and 6 metres of fabric, you’re limited as to where you can work. Hence the kitchen floor and I became well acquainted…


Fortunately I realised after I took this photo that I’d laid the pattern pieces the wrong way around so the flowers would all have been pointing down! Phew! With these larger pieces I decided I’d go ahead with folding the fabric in half but it was still a painstaking process.

Trusty Pins: can I just say thank you. You don’t get enough credit but without you there would be much more frustration, many more mistakes (and perhaps one or two less ‘ouch!’ moments). Scissors: I’m sorry but you’re getting replaced. Blunt scissors ain’t got no business in dis neighbourhood.

Tomorrow, we sew!



Wedding Guest Dress Part 1. The Bodice Toile

Front view (Karl says it looks like a bra…)

After many, many alternations, I am finally happy with the fit of the toile I made for my wedding guest dress. My dear friend Z is getting married in June and I’ve been so excited to make my own dress for the big day since she got engaged! However, as the time draws near I’ve been struggling to find the same level of enthusiasm – no doubt in part because the threat of failure becomes more real with each passing day. 
I started off with the Butterick 5748 pattern but once I made a bodice toile for that I realised it didn’t really suit my shape, lovely though the pattern is. 

So I searched the internet for a longer, more open necked dress and came upon New Look 6401, version B. It’s a little alarming upon first glance that the photo on the cover is of a bridal dress as I’m in no way trying to upstage the bride! But if you look at the other designs, and B in particular, they are just maxi dresses, really. In fact, I’m tempted to make another version in my beautiful  butterfly chiffon if this version goes well. 

So, after all the fitting and re-fitting, I’m ready to dismantle my toile and try to replicate the fit in the actual fabric, which is navy with bluey-grey flowers. 

Now trying to decide whether to go with navy shoes and fascinator or to use a bright red for some “pop”! Alternatively, I could opt for grey. Guess I’ll know more when the dress is near completion. 

Back view

Reboot Required. Shut Down Now?

I want to create but I’m struggling to be creative at present. I have (as usual) many WIP (Works In Progress) projects but few are advancing either due to lack of skill, drive or time. In these circumstances, I tend to turn to baking or small crochet projects because I’m more likely to finish them rather than larger sewing or other crafty things.

Even so, I can’t say I’ve completed much since I last blogged. I’ve made a faithful gingerbread cake upon request of the boyo, some jam-centred biscuits, a coconut sponge with raspberry jam and buttercream (a Caribbean Victoria Sponge, one might say!), some quick gooey chocolate puddings, another marbled cheesecake (which was extra delicious) and an eggless banana and walnut loaf.

I’ve always loved the texture of coconut cakes so I scoured the internet for a recipe and ended up mashing together a bit of one and another to make the end result. It didn’t look all that great but it tasted rather fabulous. I took it into work and got the thumbs up from our service users. 🙂 I also farmed off some cheesecake to a friend because there was far too much for me alone to eat (and Karl didn’t like the dark chocolate element of this one) but I’ve not heard back about that one so maybe it didn’t meet the benchmark… It was quite dense rather than the fluffier, lighter types of cheesecake. 


On the sewing front I’ve not touched the blazer recently and I did start a Sew Simple Amelia Tea Dress in a gorgeous cotton fabric I bought online but I came across some bust-fitting issues so I put it to one side whilst I try to learn how to do a Full Bust Adjustment. I completed a toile for the Butterick dress I was going to make to wear at my friend’s wedding; it’s confirmed that the dress – pretty though it would be – isn’t really going to work on me so I’ve selected a new, completely different style of dress; New Look 6041B. I’ll use the same fabric (luckily I haven’t cut into it yet) and I think it will work well with the drape of the gown. I need to get a shuffle on as it’s only about 7 weeks away and four of those will be mainly crammed with essay writing for an early May deadline!

I dropped Karl and one of his friends off for a steak dinner the other night and, feeling I deserved a little treat myself, I stopped by Hobbycraft on a ‘new yarn’ mission. I was very restrained – I only bought three balls of WI Soft and Chunky so I didn’t have to hide my purchase in the sewing room! 😉 I love grey so I opted for grey, teal and cream to make an Afghan cot blanket. I opted for the Easy Ripple Afghan pattern I found here. I didn’t have an 9mm hook as the yarn label suggested so I’ve used an 8mm, which seems to work fine. I was getting along with it swimmingly when I realised I’d made a big mistake so I had to pull it all back to the second row but at least I now know what not to do!


Because I am using a much studier yarn then the pattern recommends, the furrows are much more pronounced in my creation but I must admit I quite like it. At first I wasn’t sure but then I thought ‘Who decided a blanket had to have straight edges anyway?!’ and ploughed on. Once you get into a rhythm with this it’s very therapeutic.

A quick little project I did today comprised of creating four little Easter treat bags for my nieces in the South West. There are four of them aged 2 – 11 so I appreciate they won’t all want exactly the same (I can’t see the 11-year-old going crazy for stickers anymore…) but, so as not to show favouritism, I’ve tried to keep them similar! Whether Auntie gets more joy making them or nieces get more delight in receiving them is anyone’s guess!

I’m not green-fingered in the slightest – my plants tend to die from too much love and attention – but I love flowers so I replenished the hanging baskets yesterday evening with some cheap purchases from Morrisons. 

I’m attempting to grow a tomato plant and strawberries but I’m not holding my breath… 

Now I have a four day weekend stretching ahead of me I plan to make a real dent in some of my craft projects (and my essay!) so I better get cracking! 

The Longest Shorts in the Universe (to make!)

After over a month of to-ing and fro-ing (or should that be sewing and unpicking?!), I have finally finished the shorts I mentioned in my July post! So many times I almost gave up because I could not, for love nor money, get the crotch to sit right but patience really is a virtue.

I’ll jump straight on into the photos…

First of all, I followed the pattern for Burda July 2016’s Bermuda shorts because I liked the long pockets, the leg length and the turn-ups.


I also loved the little ‘pocket’ flap on the butt! 🙂

Having never attempted trousers or shorts before, I probably chose a tricky first pattern but hey ho! I had about two metres of navy cotton from Cloud 9, which has an interesting horizontal design. Part way through I realised I’d need to line them fully so I used a red cotton sateen I bought a while back from Dunelm, which I’d fallen out of love with. There’s something about the pairing of navy and red though that just works.


The fabric isn’t the easiest to photograph for detail but hopefully you can see how the pockets run nearly the length of the leg and tuck over the top of the waistband to create the belt loops. I decided not to make the waist tie because I knew I wouldn’t wear it but I still wanted the belt loops because they’re cute.

img_7411  img_7397







I realised too late I’d cut the shorter leg pattern option than I’d meant to (I find Burda patterns ever so confusing!) so rather than being knee length they threatened to turn into hot pants on me! And nobody wants to see that! I contemplated making the turn-ups separately and sewing them on but the fabric would have had to have been running with the pattern going vertically rather than horizontally (as that’s the only way I had enough fabric), which works for the waistband but I wasn’t convinced it would for the turn-ups. So I opted for a very narrow hem and some bias binding (home made) on the inside to prevent unfinished edges.


Now, we have to talk about that pocket flap… Isn’t it cute?! It is formed fairly early on in the pattern and I just love it – simple as it is!


I bought a bunch of different buttons on eBay and spent far too long trying to decide which ones ‘worked’. I opted for simple ones in the end because these are the only two on the garment and I thought decorative ones might look silly. Cue a photo of my derrière…


I was quite pleased with this bit of pattern matching! Sadly, it didn’t all work out so successfully but it worked for all the pockets and the back seam so that’s a start.

In the photo above you can see a cheeky flash of red lining in the pockets and below are more photos of the lining… Because it nearly killed me so it’s getting it’s five minutes pictures in the spotlight!!

And, of course, the finishing touch was the Creative Little Cwtch label. 🙂 (Except it wasn’t what I finished on – that would be the damn crotch again!)

Okay, drum roll, the ‘in situ’ photos…


Okay – done! 🙂

List of ‘firsts’ for this project:

  • First pair of shorts/trousers
  • First fully lined garment (the pink tank dress doesn’t count as it isn’t finished)
  • First planned pattern hack
  • First time I’ve constructed a fly
  • First pockets I’ve put in a garment

Things I would have liked to have gone better:

  • The fit. They ended up a little bit snug due in part to the lining and in part to my fluctuating weight! (Doesn’t help that I like to bake as well as sew…)
  • The zip is gold, the hook and bar is silver and the buttons are bronze… Hmmm! Need to plan a bit better in future. Luckily, the buttons are the only visible one of the three when the shorts are being worn.
  • Pattern matching at the side seams (tried but realised too late I’d misjudged it)
  • The waistband gapes a little at the back. I have wide thighs and hips but a narrow waist so my adjustments helped with the fit but weren’t perfect.
  • The pockets are not equal distance from the front centre seam and I’m not sure why. Hopefully it’s not noticeable in the main.

I think my next project will be an easy one to get me back into the sewing jive as this garment did test my resolve. I have two issues of Love Sewing Magazine to read still and the rest of Burda July 2016 to look through, not to mention a few other patterns knocking about in my sewing room… Watch this space. 🙂