Saturday, 31 March 2012

Weddings, Hen Parties and any other excuse to make DRESSES!

Good news a-bloody-hoy... 2012 appears to be where my friends have started to marry off and two of them are tying the knot in June and July. My response to this is to make dresses... lots! 

I am making 2 x Sew Retro Bombshell Dresses I signed up today. Boom! Having been paid on Friday (long depressing skint month!) and waking up this morning waking up to a great deal on the course @ $19.99 (or €16.00 to me)... I could not refuse such a bargain. It looks fabulous. Bloody fabulous. I have watched half of it already, haven't even printed out the pattern yet. I am so excited. I am also infuriated... why can't I have stuff now!? I need boning  I need to buy the materials in which to make my bodice structured and supported, so I need to buy (on line, Ireland remember... snail mail) some spiral steel boning. 

Also bought this week...

  • Colette Patterns galore! Eclair, Parfait and Crepe



  • This lovely retro print from Fabric Godmother. Check out the website, it's glorious...

Which Colette Pattern shall I use this on???
  • Also laid-down: the deposit for my week away with Unique Couture on a week-course to push me onwards with some of the classical techniques of tailoring, sewing and pattern drafting. Giddy gum drops for that one. It's in East Yarkshire, so can sew in the day and see UK buddies by night. October a-hoy!

Some other great news in the pipeline, but I don't want to count ma chucks and all that... so I will reveal all in good time!

Later this week... my Burda Sewing Handbook dress....



Thursday, 22 March 2012

Refashioned! Old Dress in funky Sorbetto... The 'GAP'

Ginger and Proud = GAP!

I bought this dress a fair few years ago and I loved the way that it highlighted my red hair, so it was and is a happy dress for me. Alas, I am a tad bored with it. 5 years of being an occasional dress that I wear with a red waist belt. I love the fabric but just didn't wear it anymore.

So I thought that I would recycle it into a Sorbetto, its a pattern that I did as my first ever complete sewing project and I think that I will always have an emotional attachment to it!

Bias tape is the biggest hurdle in the pattern and I think that I have cracked the hard-shelled bias tape egg and got it! I have had a bias-tape machine foot that I have tried to use, but to no real success... but I have worked out a way to fool-proof it (i.e. Bundana-proof it).

You still need to conventionally pin the tape onto the clothing and then sew the bias tape...

You can then fold the tape over to the right side of the fabric and then use the Bias-Tape Foot to finish. Its a nice little app* that you can measure the bias tape that you have and line it up perfectly using the adjustable guide to the desired stitch line of the tape.

*if you are a lunatic like me and 'hilariously' call any sewing gadget you have an app so you can say "Bias Tape- I've got an App for that...ahem

The Bias Tape Machine Foot can be bought from C9 Store
The dress was originally from Topshop and looking closely at the dress, wow... I scrutinise myself and my sewing to the nth degree, but someone needs to tell Topshop to give it a go now and then. It cost, to my memory, £28... To get the dress into a Sobetto I cut the pattern out on the dress using the front pattern piece on the front of the dress and the back similar. However, the back was so ill-aligned, it's laughable....

Why Topshop didn't use just one piece of fabric to create the back piece can only come down to being tight-fisted and cost-cutting. So I went with it (having already cut out the front piece) and used the back of the dress for the back of the Sorbetto.
Its as OK as what the original dress was- that being not really OK at all, but at least I will wear it again now!

Makes you think though doesn't it? I paid £28 for a dress that was fabricated with such blatant flaws 5 years ago. What was I thinking? I realise now that I have never looked closely at the fabric or finish of any of the clothing that I have spent good money on. Nice pattern? Yes. Look good on me? Yup, I guess. BUY.
Have I opened a can of worms on my clothing habits now? I went into Monsoon yesterday and was left aghast at the shoddy finish of clothing costing €100 (living in Ireland now, it's Euros all the way), there was no way I am shelling out money on clothes that I like the pattern of the fabric of but no attempt to match-up plaids, stripes or just general patterns. I make my own clothes now. I make my own clothes with passion and love- there is no turning back now. If I can breathe new life into something that I bought in my ignorance, that's fine.

Having said that, making tops from old dresses and skirts is not such a bad idea, is it? I walked out of Monsoon yesterday and into a charity shop and bought the place out of funky fabric clothing. Why not? I have missed so many opportunities in the past from refusing clothing in charity shops that were not my size, or slightly off-style. Not anymore! Creativity is like a purring cat, the more attention and stroking you give it... the louder it gets!

Time Taken: 2 hours
Cost: Only the 35c/metre bias tape, so €1.05
Make again? You knows it!

12 in 2012 goals?
Yes, Skill #3 Bias Tape

I took these pictures in my local park which is by the sea, its ace!

Here are some more pics of our favourite local walking spot...

Tangerine Tango? Nature is so fashionable!
Just, NO
Caffy, Caffy... let down your ginger hair...

I see the SEA!

Wild Garlic. ACRES of it... may I recommend Wild Garlic Pesto? You will NEVER turn back!

Mix together:
  • 100g freshly picked wild garlic leaves
  • 50g shallot, spring onions or leeks
  • 50g shelled walnuts
  • 200 ml olive oil, sunflower oil or rapeseed oil
  • 50-60g mature hard cheese (Quick’s goats cheese , Parmesan or similar hard, mature cheese), finely grated
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
We use it ALL the time. Actually, I picked 300g today to make some for the next few months. Baked with fish, mixed with mayo for a yummy dip, pasta.... It's AMAZING and available now! Free!


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Book Review: The Burda Sewing Handbook

Having made my 12 projects for 2012 lists (12 dresses, 12 separates, 12 skills and 12 purchases)- I needed some substance with my dressmaking reading, so I ordered from the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook... its got 5 free patterns in there and that was floating my boat at €13!!

The book comes with a pattern for the following:

  • A Dress
  • A Bag
  • A Coat
  • A Blouse
  • A Skirt
Now, that is the standard 5 patterns which come with Burda FULL instructions.

There are also 2 more variations given, with how to adapt the pattern provided and how to sew the item of clothing. It's miraculous how VERY different these clever people are to make these items of clothing so different to each other!! Then there are another TWELVE variations in a gallery format  from BurdaStyle members of each of the 5 items... as a bit of inspiration for you to go right ahead and do what the hell you want with these 5 bad boy patterns.

I have started tweeting and appreciating one of the adapters from the Book- Melissa Fehr (@fehrtrade on twitter) Go to her website (linked on the name), she has got talent!!! Lovely website and clothes and attitude... pah... some people....! Anyway, Melissa has done a really pretty adaptation of the dress from the Burda book, that is my first project from the book... hope I don't let you down Melissa!!

Express yourself....

OK, I will. I like this book A LOT but its a bit slap-dash with it's hop skip and a jump attitude to sewing. Selling itself as a general beginners book into sewing... its not. It should NOT be your very first sewing/dressmaking book. It's a pattern using and pattern adaptation book. It is the VERY first book you should buy once you have the basics and want to develop your new-found hobby. Well, that's the earliest point that you should buy this book... for an old hat at this sewing game, the inspiration and style of some of the readers contributions has no limit of help.... no matter how long you have been at this sewing malarky.

This book has endless possibilities, I wish I didn't have to work and I could sew all day and try explore them all. Pah, one day. I think this book is excellent, just know what you're buying!

The idea of these new books on dressmaking being out there makes my mouth dribble, the Colette Sewing Handbook, Sew Serendipity by Kay Whitt. Looks like Gertie is churning one out as I type... go for it. I'll buy it and read it, you can guarantee it! I am a consumer of information, learning and practice in this dressmaking malarky. These books are inspirational to me to make clothes, make, make and make... but keep getting BETTER. I am not longer going for making just anything, I want PERFECT and PROUD clothes.

I read the book from cover to cover, just like an American boy would his fresh-from-the-printers Marvel comic book. This is my passion and I eat sewing for breakfast, lunch and tea... I know that other folk out there will agree with me.


1. Getting Started - Stuff to Buy
2. Using Patterns - How to use and adapt
3. Let's Get Started - How to sew a few staple stitches
4. The Skirt
5. The Blouse
6. The Dress
7. The Coat
8. The Bag

..... see what I mean about it being a beginners pattern book, not a beginners sewing book??

And in other news....

  • I am VERY happy with my old dress revamp of The Colette 'Sorbetto'
  • I have started running, well... trying to run... Couch to 5km plan
  • I have quit smoking
  • I am making the dress out of this book
  • I cannot wait to get paid to buy fabric and patterns!



Sunday, 18 March 2012

Dusk Dinner Date Cape - Butterwick 3566

A reversible Cape.... 

I made this this week! Waiting for my seam gauge and my invisible zipper foot, I thought that I would go back to my 12 in 2012 list and see what I could make in the mean time. Yes, I know Spring is coming and a thick winter-woolen/tweed cape is somewhat season-inappropriate but I was giddy after my UK fabric shopping and found the navy and black fabric for €2.50 a metre! Yummy! 

The 'Dusk Dinner Date Cape'  came from a.... twinteraction with @SewYou (Abi) where she was wishing that she had made her cape but being too late. NOOOO! A cape is perfect for a 'Dusk Dinner Date' anytime of the year... 365. Visit Sew You Handmade, it's inspiring what that lass can do with a sewing machine and a piece of fabric!

I also won, at Christmas, the Sewing Directory Advent Giveaway (Day #8 I think) 3 metres of the fabric of my choice- so I chose the Black Wool Coating @ £10.50/metre. I cannot believe I won something!!! Wow, that never happens to me! Seriously, I am so grateful for this beautiful coating from Abakhan Fabrics who sponsored the Sewing Directory Advent Giveaway. Genuinely, If you want something sewing related, go to the Sewing Directory first... they will help you. 

Ebay €2.40

The pattern uses, quite frankly, a scary amount of fabric, but it was a pleasure to sew. With just 3 pattern pieces, the pattern allows for imagination and flair. Obviously, with the hood and the neat finish of the cape, I was sewing on the reverse- I have never done this to the extent of this piece but I love the finished result!

After sewing the seam allowance, trimming it and then serging it... I turned the cape the right way round and added top-stitching the entirety. I LOVE it, looks so professional and finished. Just, yummy.

I failed a *bit* on the lining-up of the hood.....

....but nothing too horrendous.

I could have added loads more buttons, but chose not to. I like the simplicity and wrap-around-ability of this finished cape. I have 5 trips back to the UK this year- all by ferry. Now, you can take the girl out of Yorkshire and all that and being savvy, thrifty and down-right tight with my money- I go on the 2am ferry which is the cheapest! Minimal passengers and relentless air conditioning mean that it gets ruddy cold on that starry and windy ferry, so this will be a godsend! Its my wearable blanket and I love it.

My first button.... 

12 in 2012...

No. 5 of Separates... Butterwick 3566 Cape.
No. 11 and 12 of Skills... Necklines and Buttons
No. 8 and 11 of Things.... Wildcard (Seam Gauge, now) and Invisible Zipper Foot. These arrived halfway through the making!

Time Taken: 10 hours 
Cost: FREE wool lining from winning the Sewing Directory Christmas Advent Competition, €8 on the blue/black tweed, Upcycled Buttons = FREE and €1 on the industrial navy thread and the pattern €2.40
TOTAL = €11.40
Make again? Yes, for a friend or if I found some more beautiful tweed. Its just a great showcase for beautiful fabric.

Oh yeah.... here is my 'Date' getting in on the action.....

... I don't know if he's a lucky man or I'm a lucky gal 



Friday, 16 March 2012


Hi there!!

I have revived the computer enough to now blog again!!! I have missed it, but every time I was typing... my computer was blowing up and losing my work :-(

But I have been sewing and learning loads!

I am enrolling in an intensive sewing course in October... its one 2 one sewing tuition, which I hope will (by the time October comes... I will be an intermediate) take me from the intermediate seamstress to the advanced.... check out Unique Couture Tuition


  1. 18 months to get to a good quality seamstress
  2. Leave Ireland
  3. Live in Belgium/ Holland
  4. Work as a dressmaker, NOT a nurse......
.....wish me luck!!


This weekend is my treble:

  • Butterwick 366 Misses' Cape (Its a beaut!)
  • Sorbetto revamp.... (dress seen above in a scallop sorbetto... YUMMY)
  • Burda Sewing Handbook Book Review

AND updates to my 12 in 2012 Challenge!!