My Deer and Doe Belladone Dress

I’m playing catch up with my blog posts again, this is one I made way back at the beginning of July. I’d been making an effort to get on with projects that have been left on the back burner for one reason or another. Top of the list was a Deer and Doe Belladone dress. I made a wearable muslin in January last year which turned out to be unwearable. The main problem was cutting a post-Christmas dress using my pre-Christmas measurements resulting in a general all round tightness (I chopped the bodice off the dress and got a wearable skirt out of it so all was not lost)

Luckily I’d had the foresight to make a list of what changes I needed to make (thank you past Helen!) I really love the design, the cut out back is unusual and it’s got a great silhouette. The skirt is slightly A-line with diagonal pockets and a couple of little pleats (basically my favourite type of skirt)


The fabric is a cotton poplin, yet more from my Fabworks bundle win. One of the great things I remembered about the Belladone was being able to squeeze it out of a metre and a half of fabric.

My current measurements are 42-35-42 which is an inch or two above the biggest size (41-33-43) I’ll just list what I did to make it easier to read:

  • Cut a size 44 through the shoulders and back grading up to a 46 through the bust, waist and hips (I usually cut a size smaller as I have a relatively narrow back and shoulders in relation to my bust)
  • Did a 2 inch full bust adjustment
  • Shortened the bodice by an inch
  • Added two inches to the waist
  • Pinched out a 1 cm wedge from both of the back cut out pieces (there was a bit of a gape before, pinching this bit out helped it lay flat)
  • Brought the shoulders in by an inch (not a fitting issue, just personal preference)
  • I think I may have cut the smallest size along the hem, just a lazy way of shortening the skirt!

This time I made a muslin of the bodice before cutting into the good stuff and all my tweaks seemed to have worked.  I cheated a bit and cut the whole dress out with my scalloped pinking shears (from eBay, search ‘scalloped pinking scissors’) Finishing the seams before sewing saves so much time!


I had planned on using a contrast navy binding, I had two metres which seemed like enough but after pinning it on I realised I’d run out halfway through the second armhole so resorted to plan B and used a less contrasting china blue instead (my plan for contrast piping on the waistband also went out the window, need to remember next time that I need three times as much binding)  I omitted the hem facing and used some ‘rainbow’ blue bias binding instead (also from eBay)



As with all Deer and Doe patterns the dress came together surprisingly quickly. I must admit to being a bit of a Deer and Doe fangirl, their patterns have some lovely design features and the drafting is very good. I’ve never had a bad experience and they are always a dream to sew.




I’m incredibly pleased with the finished dress, the fit is very nearly there. I think for my next one I could add an extra inch to the full bust adjustment. There’s also some pulling on the back so I’ll try cutting a 46 next. I really love the skirt though, it’s very similar to the tweaked Peony I have used before, technically an A-line but not so sticky outy as some patterns. I also love the little pleats at the waist and would like to use that part of the pattern for some Autumn skirts.





Speaking of Autumn I can’t believe it’s September already! I should be able to get more wear out of the Belladone as I can wear it with tights and a cardigan (and possible a long sleeved top underneath for extra warmth) I’ve got a very autumny length of fabric in the stash that I bought specifically to make a cold weather Belladone (it’s a sort of bronzey brown with dark red flowers on it) hopefully I can fit it in while it’s still seasonally appropriate!

I’m actually looking forward to getting back into the old routine, I haven’t had as much time to sew as I’d have liked over the summer. The nights drawing in doesn’t seem so bad when I get a bit more time to sew in the evenings. The prospect of having to put all my summer clothes away ‘til next year is a bit sad, but then getting the winter ones out is quite exciting as there’s always things I’d forgotten I had! I’ve also just got a stash of winter fabric down from the loft, again there were things I’d forgotten about so it was like going fabric shopping for free! While we’re on the topic of fabric shopping I’m off to SewBrum again on the 24th September, this time I’m going to make a concerted effort to restrain myself and focus on finding things I need (yeah right!) I’ll be taking a couple of extra bags though, just in case I ‘need’ more than I think I do!

My Grainline Alder Shirtdress

The next instalment of my sleeveless summer dress sewing is the Grainline Alder Shirtdress. I’ve sewn many Grainline patterns but I was a bit on the fence when the Alder was released. I think it was the line drawing that deterred me, the illustration looks like it was drafted for someone tall and willowy and I struggled to see whether this would work for me (being the polar opposite of tall and willowy) The dropped waist also had the potential to hit at an unflattering level, possibly adding unwanted bulk to the hips. It’s been out for nearly a year now and the many lovely versions I’ve seen online have swayed my initial apprehension. I had a sleeveless shirtdress hole in my wardrobe so I thought I’d give it a chance to fill it.

Alder is a loosely fitted sleeveless shirt dress with two options. View A falls into an A-Line at the waist and features a curved hem, bust darts and two breast pockets. View B features the same bodice as View A but with a gathered skirt at the sides and back of the garment resulting in an incredibly flattering and fun silhouette. The Alder Shirtdress is a perfect breezy option to keep cool while looking great all spring and summer long or throw on a cardigan or blazer and you’re all set for fall and winter!’


I used more of my Fabworks Mill fabric, this time a Swiss dot shirting. Mine is light blue with a navy dot which they don’t seem to have anymore but there’s blue with a grey dot still available. I went for view B with the gathered skirt, cutting a size 16 which matched my measurements exactly (42-35-42) but I cut the length to a size 0 (too lazy to use the lengthen/shorten line!) I think I used just over 2 meters of fabric. After measuring the bodice I was surprised to find it wasn’t as long as the illustration suggests so I only shortened it by an inch.

The construction is pretty much the same as the Archer shirt to start off. I used Jen’s Burrito method for attaching the yoke and Andrea’s (amazingly easy) method for attaching the stand and collar. I finished the armholes with some readymade 13mm bias binding. I bought it from Plush Addict and I’m really impressed, it’s soft and malleable but sturdy enough to hold the shape of the finished openings. I also added in seam pockets along with the patch pockets on the bust, I really need somewhere to put my hands!



I was a little unsure about the high low hem but as I’d shortened the skirt when cutting had to go with it. The hem is very shirt like, raising up from the front (quite significantly) at the sides before dipping down at the back (which isn’t shown on the envelope) To finish it off (and following an Instagram referendum) I went with some navy Czech glass buttons which I think I bought from eBay.







I’m pleasantly surprised by the finished dress and I think it may have tamed my prejudice of hi-lo hems. It was enjoyable to sew and everything fitted together nicely. The finished measurements are given on the pattern and they were true to the finished garment. If anything I could maybe have done with an inch or two of a full bust adjustment. The proof of the pudding is wearability and it has been getting a fair bit of wear, perfect for sunny days when you need something light that allows the air to circulate! The sew along provides variations for a Mandarin collar, V neck and the option to add sleeves by combining it with the Archer so plenty of opportunity to play around with it. I think I need to be looking towards fabrics for the cooler weather though, maybe something I can wear through early Autumn and then layer up with a long sleeved tee and cardigan.

And speaking of fabric there is a new app out specifically for fabric hoarders:

‘Cora is an iPhone, iPad and iPod app that helps you sew your fabric stash.  With Cora, whether you’re out and about shopping for patterns or planning a project in bed, your fabric stash is always with you! Sort and search to sew up treasures you already have.’

I spent the whole of last Sunday logging my main stash (I’ve not ventured into the loft or bathroom cupboard yet) and so far I am up to 147 metres. It’s free to try for the first five fabrics and £4.49 for the full version (I must state I have no affiliation with the maker, I just think it’s brilliant!) The only problem I have is the urge to buy more fabric just so I have something new to add, like the fabric equivalent of Pokemon Go. I’m desperate to catch some Double Gauze for a Deer and Doe Datura but Cora tells me I already have 37 metres of suitable fabric!

My Marilla Walker Bennett Dress

Now the wedding is over I’m starting to get back into a routine. I’ve managed to squeeze in a few hours sewing time throughout the week and I’m pleased to say these hours have been very productive (and incredibly enjoyable). Since getting back I’ve been on a mission to sew some sleeveless dresses. This was the one big hole in my wardrobe highlighted by Me Made May, the weather was glorious while we were at the Lakes and my one solitary sleeveless number was my Southport dress.

First in the queue was Marilla Walker’s Bennett dress:

‘This dress is a lovely summer shift with flattering front princess seams, a large pocket and a choice of waist ties, front panel and hem length. View A finishes below the knee with waist ties, shaped shirt style hem and v-back neck. Ideal fabrics are soft, lightweight and drape well. The gathering at the waist is best suited to finer fabrics to reduce bulk. View B finishes above the knee with button front fastening on the centre front panel, loose A-line shape, straight hem and v-back neck. Fabrics can be selected according to your preferred silhouette. Soft lightweight fabrics for a nice floaty feel or fabrics with more body to emphasise the shape of the dress.’

WP_20160606_009 (2)

I was attracted to the loose silhouette and the ability to loosen the ties (which is the main thing I like about the Southport dress) One of the Sample garments Marilla made used a stripy fabric which contrasted the direction of the stripes on the bib section. I decided to blatantly copy her. The fabric was from my Fabworks Millshop giveaway, a denim blue stripe check cotton, available here. The finished garment measurements are stated instead of arbitrary sizing, I wish every pattern company did this as I find it so much easier to choose a size. The sizing is quite broad, going up to a 52 inch bust, 54 inch waist and 59inch hip. From the given measurements I cut a size 41 inch shoulders and high bust before blending to a 43 through the bust (adding 2 inches) and then blending back into a size 42/47 for the waist and hips. I chose view A with the straight hemmed skirt of view B.

It all came together very easily, I did make a couple of errors due to my slapdash approach at the time. I forgot to interface the facings, only realising as I had finished the dress. This hasn’t been a problem though as the fabric has enough body to hold their shape. I also ignored the instruction to baste the bib in place before sewing, which led to having an extra centimetre of width and some sheepish unpicking.


I made a couple of changes, swapping the patch pocket for in seam ones. I shortened the bodice by an inch as a standard adjustment for being short waisted. I also raised the armscye an inch as I found it a little too low on me, so it may be worth checking before cutting if you are on the short side too. I think next time I will also size down a bit for a more fitted look in the bodice.  I bound the hem with some yellow gingham bias binding.








I’ve worn this dress a lot, although mostly with a cardigan (the Sun seems to have disappeared since embarking on my summer dress sewing extravaganza). I like the nautical feel and the effect of the stripe direction which gives the impression of little capped sleeves. The fabric is wonderful, it doesn’t crease too badly so I can wear it all day and still look presentable if I get chance to escape for a quick pint in the pub in the evening. I’m pondering about using the pattern for the colder months, I think it would work well in a lightweight wool paired with tights and a long sleeved tee underneath, but I really shouldn’t be thinking about winter sewing plans, we’ve not had Summer yet!

My Deer and Doe Melilot Shirt

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Deer and Doe patterns, their designs always appeal to me and the drafting is such that they’re a pleasure to sew. The Sureau is my go to dress when I can’t decide what to wear, the Chardon is practically the only skirt I wear and the Plantain tee is heads above any other pattern I’ve made. As they are drafted for an hourglass figure and a C cup they always seem to fit with minimal adjustments.

When the Melilot shirt was released I ordered it straight away. I’d been looking for an alternative shirt pattern to my TNT Grainline Archer and judging by the photos the Melilot seemed to fit the bill.


A couple of months ago I entered a giveaway on Instagram from Fabworks Millshop for a bundle of fabrics. I was over the moon when I found out I’d won, particularly being on a stash diet since the New Year. Opening the parcel was amazing and I was mentally matching patterns to each piece as I went through. They were nearly all blue too so it had to be destiny! This was the first piece of fabric I used, a Navy cotton with little pink arrows embroidered into it.


Looking at the pictures I decided to shorten the bodice by 2 inches, a usual adjustment for me being 5 foot 2 inch and short waisted. Going by the finished measurements I cut a 46 which is the largest size.

The instructions are quite brief but if supplemented with a couple of online tutorials could be tackled by an advanced beginner.

The button band had me puzzled for a while, I couldn’t figure out how it folded together. It was only when I looked at the picture on the envelope that I realised view A has a concealed button band which accounted for the excess bit of fabric. As I had some pink Mother of Pearl buttons in mind I went with the exposed one.


I opted for a mix of both views, using the collar of view A with the button band and sleeves of view B. I left off the pockets due to a combination of laziness and feeling they would upset the print if I didn’t match them perfectly.

I used Andrea of Four Square walls tutorial for attaching the collar. This is arguably the best tutorial ever written and I use it every time it comes to attaching a collar, Her method makes it so easy.

As I was making the short sleeved version I didn’t need the sleeve placket. I did however look over the instructions and if you’ve never done one before it would be difficult to follow. There are some good tutorials out there though, such as the one Tasia did for her Sewaholic Granville Shirt.



I checked the final measurements of the shirt and they correspond to those given on the envelope. It’s so much easier to pick the right size when looking at the finished measurements, I really wish more pattern companies would include these on the envelope.






Overall it’s definitely a winner for me. The rounded collar and darts give it feminine silhouette which will work well on curves. It’s also versatile, with the different variations and the potential to work with a wide range of fabrics. I’m glad to have found another wardrobe staple, especially as I have so much fabric now to choose from!

My Peggy Olsen inspired ‘Reneta’

I love Mad Men, I still watch it on a continuous loop, usually when I’m sewing. The wardrobe has been an endless source of fascination and inspiration. It’s easy to be drawn towards a specific characters sense of style, there’s Joan’s bombshell wiggle dresses, Betty’s classic understated chic, but for me though it’s all about Peggy. There’s many Peggy dresses I would love in my wardrobe but I’ve been particularly obsessed with the cowl necked Damson number for years.

At SewBrum in October I set myself a mission to find the perfect fabric for my own version. Possibilities arose in Barry’s but they were either too purple or too red. There was nothing on the Rag market (I think the reason I bought so little fabric at was because I was so intent on finding ‘the one’) I prepared myself for disappointment but struck gold at Guthrie and Ghani, hiding under the cutting table was the holy grail, one of their Luxury Jerseys (A blend of Silk and Model) the colour was spot on, it draped beautifully and was so soft, it really lived up to its name.


I used the cowl version of the Sewaholic Renfrew  which I planned to morph into the Colette Moneta skirt. I was initially going to be good and make a muslin but in the end decided to live dangerously and dive straight in (my justification was that I knew both patterns fitted, it was just a matter of how to fudge them together)


Renfrew in red Moneta in green

The cowl on the Renfrew is quite deep, I wanted to get as close to my inspiration as possible so I raised the neckline by 2 inches and shortened the cowl accordingly. There’s a big difference between the two patterns, particularly around the shoulders and armscye. The best course of action was to keep things simple so I used the Renfew until the bottom of the armscye (sleeves and cuffs included) then measured the length of the Moneta bodice and drafted that onto the bottom half. The skirt was all Moneta.


WP_20160201_020 (2)

It came together without a hitch, there’s quite a bit of weight to the fabric and I was worried it may pull the skirt down as it did on my last Monetas. Just in case I shortened the elastic in the waist seam to keep it snug. When I tried it on it fitted but I felt something was lacking. I’d contemplated attaching a waistband during construction but decided there was far too much chance of making a mess and ruining the whole thing. Instead I made a tube of fabric, gathered it at the side and l hand stitched it to the waist at three inch intervals to allow for stretch.


IMG_1158 (3)

(This is the third outfit taken on my windy day photo shoot!)




 (I’ve just noticed that I hadn’t pressed the hem after sewing!)

It actually turned out better than I’d imagined, the gathered waistband really balances out the drape of the cowl. The fabric feels lovely to wear, very cosy and perfect for the colder weather. Unfortunately I don’t have a cardigan that works with it (I could really do with a black one but it would be so boring to knit) it does need something to break up the large expanse of boob though! I’ll definitely make another but not until the Autumn as my head is full of Spring sewing, I expect yours is too!

Helen x

A Snowdrop Deer and Doe Sureau

As the Camas blouse was the last thing I made I thought I’d show you the first this year. The fabric was a Christmas present from my Mother in Law, it’s one of Liberty’s 2015 collection called Hesketh (I can’t find it on the liberty website but it’s available here) This is the black and white colourway, it does come in navy and white (as well as grey) but I am trying really hard to move out of my blue comfort zone.

WP_20160104_006 1

I decided not to risk using a new pattern and stick with my TNT Deer and Doe Sureau. I made it up exactly the same as my other ones (tried one of my other ones on to check it still fitted first!) cutting a 42 at the shoulder and grading to a 44 through the bust and waist.   I used a 9 inch zip instead of the 16 inch one suggested on the pattern and added side seam pockets underneath. Again I added a little cuff to finish the sleeves. I also remembered to curve the waist darts which seems to make a big difference to the fit underneath the bust. Instead of the gathers on the front placket I added two tucks.

Once the dress was finished the print was so busy you couldn’t actually see the placket. I thought adding buttons would look odd and after an Instagram poll agreed I left them off.



It was so good using an old tried and true pattern. Being able to just cut straight out and sew without all the hassle of working out sizing and fitting was a perfect way to start the year.

It’s a lovely (and very seasonally appropriate) dress.  Snowdrops are one of my favourite flowers and I have a snowdrop necklace which goes perfectly. While we are on the subject of Snowdrops mine in the garden have been behaving strangely this year. They are usually the first things to push through in January but they’ve been really late, only coming into flower at the end of February (I’ve even had Daffodils flowering before them) I think they must need a period of sustained cold before they start to grow and the mild winter we have had has confused them somewhat. Anyway, I digress! My other Sureaus have had so much wear, with boots in the cooler weather and sandals when it warms up.  I know this one will get year round wear too.  All in all it’s a lovely little pattern I’m so glad I gave it another outing!



And then the wind got up….






If I look rather dishevelled here, you should see the next ones!


This was a wonderful Christmas present and one which will last for years to come. I gave her a similar present this year, some beautiful Malabrigo yarn (which I really wanted to keep myself) and the Casu Cowl pattern as a ‘knit your own Christmas present’ thankfully she was pleased, so much nicer than perfume and pyjamas!

Helen x

Thread Theory Camas Blouse Spotty Sew along

I’ve been really struggling to take photos so far this year. The other half usually acts as photographer but trying to coordinate a time when we are both in during daylight (and I’ve had the inclination) has been difficult. His patience has also been running low when faced with multiple garments. This has become more evident in the quality of the photos (this video also made me chuckle!) The ones that are actually in focus (and with my eyes open) are usually me swearing at him through gritted teeth while he says ‘well do something then, they’ all look the same!’ I’ve also noticed that many are slightly wonky and look like I’m standing on a hill. With four things in the queue things reached crisis point.  So after three years of using my phone I’ve bought a proper (albeit second hand) camera, tripod and remote.

I’m going to start my catch up with the most recent thing I’ve made; the Thread Theory Camas Blouse. This has been on my radar since its release last year as it’s very similar to a well-loved Fat Face blouse I’ve had for years. When they announced a sew along (and a discount for the pattern) it gave me the push I needed, here’s the description:

‘Enjoy the unrestricted comfort of a t-shirt and the put together elegance of a blouse.  This blouse is designed to be COMFORTABLE and can be sewn in knits or stretch fabrics.  It features shoulder and back yokes, elegant gathering, and a flattering curved v-shaped neckline placket.  

The gathers create a flattering shape that is loose enough to float over the body rather than cling to it.  The delicately curved hem can be tucked into trousers and skirts or can be left loose to float over skinny jeans.  The slim sleeves end just below the elbow to create the perfect multi-season blouse.

WP_20160202_002 (2)

I used a vintage Liberty Viscose bought from eBay, £12 for two and a half meters. I was sceptical when I bought it but when it arrived it had the Liberty bolt label attached and the last length cut was dated 1992. As the pattern is designed for knits I went up a size (to a 16) to account for using a woven fabric.

It was an absolute joy to make from start to finish, quite easy and came together really quickly. The sew along is very detailed and although I used the printed instructions is was useful just to check how the button band went in.   I skipped buttonholes as I could slip it over my head so I just sewed the buttons on shutting the placket.  I used some buttons from my stash and also used my expanding sewing gauge for the first time!

WP_20160206_015 (2)

WP_20160211_004 1


It did turn out to be a bit too big. In hindsight I should have looked at the finished measurements before choosing my size. There is a very detailed list below the size chart and it is also printed on the back pattern piece. I usually grumble about patterns not including the finished garment measurements yet this time I had a bit of a brain drain and didn’t think to look at them. It’s perfectly wearable and the fabric drapes beautifully but I think I might take it in a little bit (I seem to have a real fear of making things too small so overcompensate by sizing up too much)



Apart from choosing the wrong size I think I’ve found my perfect blouse pattern. I love the style, very simple but with just enough detail and in the right places. I’ve dismissed many blouse patterns before as they look great on the model but I know with my bust they would resemble maternity wear. I’ve already cut out my next one, this time in a blue polka dot (my first blue thing this year!) I’ve cut a size 14 but graded into a 12 at the waist. If I can get the sizing right I think I’ll be making a small army of them to see me through Spring and Summer.




I had a marathon solo photo session but it was a bit windy so my hair got messier and messier with every picture. We could probably have a game of ‘guess which order the blog photos were taken’ over the next few posts. I think I prefer the tripod to my other half, much more patient and with a steadier hand. I was just merrily clicking away so hopefully there should be a bit more variety to the usual smiling with gritted teeth!








I’ll leave you with this scary staring one!

Helen x

Two Liberty Jersey Monetas

A quick catch up post with these two Colette Monetas. They were the first things I made after finishing my Coat and were the perfect palate cleansing instant sewification I needed. Both fabrics were bargain Liberty seconds from eBay. The blue is quite fine and very stretchy but has a lot of weight to it, the grey is slightly thicker but with a similar weight.



I made both of them up the same as my last Moneta, cutting a large. I had to take the skirt off the blue one and shorten the bodice as the weight of the skirt was pulling it down a fair bit. I took an inch off the grey too for the same reason. I sewed them up mainly on my overlocker and just twin needled the hem and neckline on my regular machine. It’s been nearly two months since I finished these and they have been well worn. They’re perfect secret pyjamas for pottering around the house, paired with leggings and a cardie. I took these photos a couple of weeks ago and they must have been washed a dozen times before but they look just as good as when I first made them. It just shows that although Liberty jersey is expensive it really does stand up to repeated wearing and washing. I still have one more piece in my stash, a heavier weight grey/blue/black print, there’s a couple of possible patterns but I don’t want to commit until I’m sure of a match.









I’m still enjoying sewing without a plan. The dress I’m working on at the moment is a copy of one Peggy wore on Mad Men which I’ve been wanting to make for a couple of years. There’s been a bit of frankenpatterning and tweaking going on but I’ve got high hopes for it. If I can get it finished this weekend I’ll be happy. Then it’s just a matter of looking through my stash and seeing where inspiration takes me for my next project!

My Grainline Cascade Duffle

Hello, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. I’m easing my way into the New Year gradually, January is by far the most miserable month of the year. Over the years I’ve found a good way to get through it; basically I pretend it’s still Christmas! I don’t deprive myself of anything, I don’t force myself to go running in the freezing cold. Instead I go into hibernation with a couple of good books, some sewing, a bit of knitting and Netflix. It’s going great so far!

I haven’t blogged since November so I’ve got a fair bit of catching up to do. The whole of December went by under permanent cloud making the prospect of half decent blog photos remote. When the Sun did peek through I decided to be adventurous and go to the park for a photo shoot. I felt ridiculous amongst the dog walkers and the photos were terrible. I think I’ve scared myself off of location shots for life so it was back to the safety our North facing garden.

I started working on the Cascade Duffle at the beginning of November. I’ve never made a coat before so I wanted to take my time. In the end it took just over three weeks of steady stage by stage sewing. This is likely to be a lengthy post so I’ve tried to break it down a bit.

WP_20151102_005 (2)

Fabric and Notions

I was torn with the main fabric, apprehensive to spend too much in case I messed it up. With no local sources I had to buy online. I turned to eBay, searching for ‘heavy wool coating fabric’ I found a listing for 3 metres of a heavy navy wool cashmere blend for only £30. I was a little sceptical about the fibre content but figured I could always use it as a wearable muslin. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived, it was very soft to the touch with a lovely hand. I folded it back up and left it in the bottom of my wardrobe until needed. When I got it out a month later I’d been wondering what the best way would be to get rid of the inevitable creases it must have. I was amazed when I unfolded it that there wasn’t a single crease, having a chance to look more closely the quality was impeccable. I found two stickers pointing to barely noticeable faults but the rest was perfect.

For the lining I scored some heavy satin from eBay for £7. I expected it to be a very dark bottle green as the picture suggested but when it arrived it was much brighter. I went for the heavier lining fabric for a bit of added warmth. As a contrast and to tie the two colours together I used some leftover blackwatch tartan for the hood lining and zipper band.

I’d been worried about how to make the toggles when an instagrammer gave me the heads up about some she’d bought on eBay. The seller makes them himself and to be honest was my knight in shining armour as I wasn’t looking forward to making my own, I think they were around £10 for a set of four.

I bought a paper copy of the pattern from Guthrie and Ghani during SewBrum which was £14.50. With the cost of fabric at £37 and toggles the whole coat cost £61.50 ($88.64)



I opted to go up from my usual Grainline size 14 and went for the 16. I shortened the sleeves by three inches (I have never owned a coat with the right length sleeves!) I was in a quandary about which view to make. The full length would be too long on me, drowning me like most ready to wear coats. The shorter option seemed too short. I wanted a coat that would just cover my bum so after lots of measuring shoulder to bum ratios I lengthened the shorter version by four inches.


Cutting out

Oh my, the cutting out!   There was no way I was going to try printing the PDF. I didn’t trace it either, there are so many pattern pieces, at least 30 , so I just cut straight into the tissue. The cutting out was by far the worst and most time consuming part of the project, taking a whole day. I can’t emphasise how important it is to label every piece. I left everything pinned to their corresponding pattern piece and also pinned another label on each just to be safe.



The construction process launches you straight in at the deep end by completing the whole front of the coat first: pockets, zipper and toggles. Sewing the toggles on was the scariest bit, I really didn’t want to bugger it up as a mistake would be really noticeable. I stuck them in place first with fabric glue and used a leather needle which cut’s through the leather rather than piercing it, making a channel for the thread to pass through. The stitching isn’t perfect but thankfully they all went on first go. Once you get past this part it’s plain sailing!

I used a 110/18 needle to sew the rest of the coat. I manged to get through 5 as there was a lot of bulk in places which resulted in bent needles. Using my walking foot definitely made things easier, I also put the extension table on my machine which helped to support the weight of the coat. The fabric was reluctant to hold a crease with just the iron so I used a block of wood as a makeshift clapper. Using a pressing cloth I pumped as much steam as possible into the crease and pressed down with the clapper until the fabric cooled which worked perfectly. The rest of the coat came together easily, there are lots of little steps which makes it an ideal project to potter away at. I was sceptical about the final part of bagging the lining. The whole coat needs to be turned out through a six inch gap in the sleeve lining, there was a lot of coat but miraculously it worked its way through to the right side. The final touch was adding a leather coat hook (by Hemline) and the Sew Brum meet up make label that was part of our goodie bags.







These photos have been taken after six weeks of regular wearing so you can see it’s holding up well. The most amazing part is that it fits, it’s the perfect length and the sleeves don’t need turning under! It’s also very warm, it’s been tested in wind, rain and freezing temperatures and nothing has manged to get through it so far.



WP_20160110_040 (3)


I’d highly recommend making a Cascade if you’ve never made a coat before. There’s a full sewalong which was useful when I was a little unsure about the written instructions. It’s a step by step process, none of which are difficult.

I’d definitely make another, most likely a collared version. I’ll be keeping my eye out for some fabric over the summer, I’m thinking red would be nice.

I had a bit of a quick sew splurge after finishing my coat, with two more Moneta’s and three Linden sweatshirts. I’ve also made a couple more dresses, hopefully I’ll have chance to get some of them blogged in the next few weeks. I’m really enjoying my spontaneous short term sewing too, it’s lovely to ponder all the possibilities, waiting for inspiration to strike and really getting excited about a project. Maybe I should adopt this philosophy in other areas!


My Blackwatch Peony/2444 Franken pattern

A little announcement first, the winner of the Girl Charlee giveaway was Alison, we’ve been in touch and she’s just received her fabric today.


Now on to my new dress. I love Navy and green, it’s one of my favourite colour combinations. I also love a bit of tartan so it’s no surprise I have a bit of a thing for Blackwatch.

My first foray into making a Blackwatch dress was about three years ago when I made a Colette Peony. I changed the little gathers at the front to two inverted pleats. I loved the skirt, which is a very simple A-line, but the bodice was a different matter. No matter how much I tweaked it I couldn’t get it to fit. The back was weird and there was something funny about the neckline as it just didn’t sit right. I got it to a semi-wearable state but never felt comfortable in it as all it’s flaws kept nagging away at me. I’ve since found it wasn’t just me, a lot of other people have had problems with the Peony indicating it was probably down to bad drafting rather than weird body shape.

Fast forward to Last Christmas when I had my heart set on a red tartan (Stewart?) dress. I didn’t want anything fancy, no full circle skirt or anything too frou frou but something I could dress up yet wear dressed down for day to day (thus extending wearable opportunities).

The Peony skirt fitted the bill but there was no way I was going to tackle that bodice again. I decided to pair the skirt with a different bodice, one I knew fitted properly. Step forward the old faithful Simplicity 2444, a lovely pattern which gets its shaping from the double diagonal waist darts which are mirrored in the pleats of the skirt.

Anyway, long story short the bodice and skirt worked perfectly together and the Red Christmas dress was a resounding success.


When I got my winter wardrobe out of storage last month I looked again at my wonky Peony. I didn’t want to wear it for another winter so decided to make a new one using my TNT frankenpattern.

It all went together well, I managed to match the checks somewhat successfully. I made a couple of mistakes though as I forgot some of the adjustments I made last time (should really read old blog posts before cutting into fabric!) I remembered to shorten the bodice but I failed to shorten the bust darts so they finish a little bit too close to my apex. I also failed to take a bit out of the back neckline. This only became apparent when I tried the dress on before installing the zipper, it wasn’t a major crisis as I took the extra width out then but it has distorted the check placement which is a bit of a shame.

Just to jazz it up a bit I added a navy exposed lace zip and finished the neckline with Bias Binding. I really wanted to bind the hem too but I also wanted to wear it to this year’s SewBrum, it was 9.00pm the night before and I couldn’t face the extra work so just quickly whizzed the hem up on my machine.



I had a brilliant day at SewBrum, I was unusually restrained with my purchases only buying four pieces of fabric, two patterns and some buttons. I know this may sound a little unbelievable but I think my stash has reached saturation point! I have so many projects in the queue that I’m completely overwhelmed by the sheer scale of getting them all sewn up. This is probably just a phase though as I’ve bought a piece of Liberty from Ebay this week, no plans for it, I just want to stroke and look at it for a bit!


Hmm the photos, I threw on the dress before it went in the wash the day after Sewbrum. Looking at the pictures I should have waited until it was washed and ironed before taking them. It’s looking rather crumpled, particularly on the shoulders from carrying bags of fabric all day!




I’m really happy to finally have a proper fitting Blackwatch dress. I’m currently in the throes of sewing a Cascade Duffle Coat and I’m using Blackwatch as a contrast fabric on the Hood and zipper band. I don’t know if I’ll wear them together, it may be going a step too far, I always think of the Queen when it comes to matching dress and coat!