British Tweed Cowl Neck Dress

This is Burdastyle #118A 10/2012 and the first version of my Anglomania dress. I made this dress using British tweed wool with a herringbone pattern bought from the Hollander Stoffe Market, when it swung by my local town a couple of years ago.

Burdastyle #118A 10/2012

Burdastyle #118A 10/2012

I love using British wool tweeds. The fabrics are so warm to wear and durable. I throw this dress in the washing machine on a wool wash and it’s fine – it just gets softer and more comfortable with each wash! (BTW – not sure if this is recommended. I suggest checking with your retailer before you throw your precious wool fabric in the washing machine!)

Back view

Back view

I also love the richness of the colours. From afar it appears to be greenish blue, but on closer inspection, it has flecks of many other colours within it!

Herringbone tweed

Herringbone tweed

This fabric is just a little thicker and sturdier than the tartan wool that I used for the Anglomania dress and I think it holds the shape of the side gathers and cowl just a little bit better.

British tweed wool fabric

British tweed wool fabric

Anglomania dress in tartan merino wool
Anglomania dress in tartan merino wool

I didn’t line this tweed dress, I chose instead to do a Hong Kong finish on the seams.

Hong Kong finish on seams

Hong Kong finish on seams

I also hand stitched the hem and sleeve hems.

Back view and Hong Kong finished seams

Back view and Hong Kong finished seams and invisible zip

I really like the shape of the dress, especially the gathering at the front, as it hides a multitude of postpartum unruliness! It’s also interesting experimenting with the same dress pattern and using different fabrics to create quite different looking dresses.

Same pattern - different fabrics = quite different looks

Same pattern – different fabrics = quite different looks

Apologies for all of the dress form pics of this, but I’ve been too busy out testing the seaworthiness of this beauty below with my children, to do any dress ‘modeling’!

P1290825I have many projects on my sewing table at the moment that I’ll hopefully be sharing soon. First up is some Carnival goodness for my children.

What’s on your sewing table right now?

Have a good weekend!


Project Sewn Week Three – ‘If the shoe fits’

It’s week three of Project Sewn and this week’s theme is ‘If the shoe fits’.

The designer contestants have come up with knock-out clothes and images again! It’s so inspiring to see their interpretations of the themes and how expertly they put their looks together. They truly are a talented bunch of ladies!

For the rest of us mere mortals, I think it’s great that we get to join in with the fun. This week though, I thought I’d have to bow out because I’m busy making for my children and haven’t had time to make something for this challenge.


Sparkly ballet flats

Then, just as luck would have it, a trawl through my archives unearthed these photos taken in Italy last summer of an outfit not yet blogged about, which also happens to showcase this sparkly pair of ballet flats quite nicely.

So I thought, ‘if the shoe fits’……!

Grainline Studio Scout tee and Simplicity skirt

Grainline Studio Scout tee and Simplicity skirt and unknown furry friend!

This outfit is made up of a Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 2215 skirt and Grainline Studio woven Scout tee topped off with a Smedley knit.

P1260252The Simplicity 2215 skirt is a pleated skirt pattern with uneven pleats on the front and back pieces and pockets in the side seams.

Simplicity skirt

Simplicity 2215 skirt with uneven pleating and side seam pockets

Once you’ve marked out and basted down the pleating, this skirt comes together really quickly and easily – with just one catch! I found putting the zip and the pocket into the side seam a little perplexing. I managed to put them all in in the end by attaching the zip to the side of the pocket but it wasn’t the neatest of zip insertions!

Organic cotton batiste lining

Organic cotton batiste lining

The main body of the skirt is made from linen from the Hollander Stoff market and I lined the skirt with organic cotton batiste from Lebenskleidung.  I added a fabric covered button to close the waistband and zip fastening and hand stitched the hem for a neater finish.

Grainline Studio Scout tee in cotton eyelet batiste

Grainline Studio Scout tee in cotton eyelet batiste

The Grainline Studio Scout woven tee is one of my all-time favourite staple patterns! It’s so versatile and easy and can be squeezed out of just one metre of fabric – always a bonus IMO! I’ve made several of these now but this white one and my Breton striped one are the most worn.

Body of Scout tee underlined with white cotton batiste and all French seams

Body of Scout tee underlined with white cotton batiste and all French seams

For this tee, I used cotton eyelet batiste and underlined the main body pieces with cotton batiste – both from Anita Pavani Stoffe and did French seams on all seams including the armholes.

This cotton eyelet batiste is the same as I used to make my first Anna dress in black. I really love this fabric, which is why I was so pleased when I saw a blouse recently, made from the same fabric in a boutique in my town by Italian brand 0039 Italy for 150 euros! Mine cost a fraction of that to make! Isn’t it great when that happens!


Don’t forget to cast your vote for your favourite outfit over at Project Sewn.

I’m so looking forward to the finale of the competition next week. What will the contestants pull out of the bag for that one, I wonder?

Blog updates and Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Just a quick note to let you know that I’m updating my blog – particularly the ‘European Insider Top Tips’ and ‘Things I’ve made’ pages.

I still have much more to add so do check back for fresh content and links.

I hope the information that I’m including here is useful.

If anything has been useful to you or you’d like some other information about European sewing resources you can’t find anywhere else then do let me know and please leave a comment below!

I’d love to help!

I’m abnormally enthusiastic about European sewing stuff and resources so I hope I can share my European product love with you!

Happy Valentines Day!

Project Sewn Week Two: ‘Make it Pink’ Challenge – The Lady Skater Dress

I’ve just finished this coral pink and red dress, it’s literally hot off the press, so I’m including it for the Project Sewn ‘Make it Pink’ challenge.

Ichy Coo Lady Skater dress

Ichy Coo Lady Skater dress

I’d seen this Marc by Marc Jacobs dress (see below) and fallen hard for the tonal colours and simple shape and thought that the Lady Skater dress pattern by independent pattern company Kitschy Coo would be a good match to replicate this fit and flare dress design.

Marc by Marc Jacobs tonal dress

Marc by Marc Jacobs tonal dress

Here’s my version!

Coral organic single cotton jersey and red organic sweater knit

Coral organic single cotton jersey and red organic sweater knit 

I thought this coral colour teamed with the red gives the dress a vibrant flair. The bodice is made from coral pink organic cotton jersey, with coral pink organic cotton rib cuffs and the skirt is made from red organic sweater knit jersey all from Lebenskleidung.

When you make this PDF download dress pattern, you choose your size based on your body measurements. I was between sizes for the skirt so graded the bodice out to the waistline. I cut a size two for the bodice and sleeves and between a three and four for the skirt pieces.

I would describe the fit of the finished bodice as – ‘swimsuit -like’ which I wasn’t happy with at first but I’m getting used to now! The pattern instructions did suggest sizing up the bodice to the next size if your fabric isn’t very stretchy, which being 100% cotton, mine isn’t but for some unknown reason, I chose to ignore this useful piece of advice!

The sewing up of this is really quick and easy – this was a ‘one evening’ make for me. The pattern comes with extremely helpful and thorough making instructions – you really couldn’t want for more! I sewed the whole thing up on my overlock machine, including the neck-band which was probably a bit reckless for a first attempt but luckily worked out ok-ish!


Yes, that is Olive Oyl on my scarf!

I haven’t hemmed the dress yet, this is the unfinished length, but I’m thinking I’m just going to overlock it because I don’t want it too short.

I put the dress on today to take these photos, with every intention to change back into my jeans as soon as I finished because it’s was such a yucky cold and stormy day. But these colours made me feel so happy and spring-like that I ended up keeping it on! I layered it up with one of my favourite John Smedley cardigans and a scarf and I was toasty and warm all day.

With John Smedley cardigan

With John Smedley cardigan

This dress feels like a departure from my usual style – not sure exactly what my usual style is, but this seems out of it. However I’m growing to like it. I feel like I’m wearing something too young for me, which it probably is, but it’s nice to wear something a bit girly for a change!

All in all, this was a joy to make (although I didn’t enjoy attaching the neck-band!) and the dress is a cute style.

Again, don’t forget, if you haven’t done so already, go over to Project Sewn and cast your vote for your favourite outfit!

Project Sewn Week Two: ‘Make it Pink’ – McCall’s M6553

It’s week two of Project Sewn, the online sewing bloggers knockout sewing competition and this week’s challenge is ‘Make it Pink’. It’s really nice that us voters get to join in the fun by posting our makes too!

McCall's M6553 dress in pink cotton gabardine on my dress-form Beatrice

McCall’s M6553 dress in pink cotton gabardine on my dress-form Beatrice

I made this McCall’s M6553 dress, one of the Fashion Star pattern series, last summer but didn’t get round to blogging about it. This Project Sewn pink theme has given me the perfect opportunity to clear some of the back log from my blogging in-tray and slip this unseasonal make into my winter posts!

Pleated back

Pleated back

It’s a case of – ‘here’s one I made earlier!’

McCall's M6553 Fashion Star

McCall’s M6553 Fashion Star

I was attracted to this dress pattern by the relaxed fit of the pull-on-over-your-head style, the princess seam shaping, the pleated back and the shaped hemline. The combination of these features make this dress shape quite unusual and unique IMO.

P1290839 P1290854

I particularly like the contrast between the feminine bow of the belt in the front and the box pleated, loosely draping back. I think the overall shape of the dress is body skimming and flattering. Well at least Beatrice, my dress-form looks good in it!

Pleated back

Pleated back

There isn’t a zip to deal with or buttonholes or anything else that you could imagine to be complicated, it’s just an easy to sew-up loose fitting dress that gets it shape from the waist cinching belt that threads behind the back piece and ties in a bow at the front. Plus it has side-seam pockets so you can slouch like me!

Belt threads through openings in the side seams

Belt threads through openings in the side seams

There is a neck slit on the back bodice piece that closes with a button and thread loop. I’d never done a thread loop before this dress, but I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to do.

Neck opening with button and button loop

Neck opening with button and button loop

One word of warning about this dress – it is quite short. I’d read many online pattern reviews of this before I made it so I knew this. To compensate, I added five centimetres to the length.

However, I still found the dress short, so ended up doing a hand-stitched lace hem finish because I didn’t want to lose anymore length. The finished length is still above my knees and I’m only 162cm tall!

As a bonus though, I like the way the lace peaks out on the uneven hem of the back of the dress. It’s added another cute detail to the finished dress.

Lace hem

Lace hem

Another word of warning – this pattern is very loose fitting! I made the smallest size six, which is a smaller size than I would normally choose from the big four pattern companies.

I made this dress out of pale pink cotton gabardine bought from Anita Pavani online.  It’s a firm fabric that holds the shape of the pleat and bow quite nicely.

Gratuitous holiday pic!

Gratuitous holiday pic!

All in all this pattern got my thumbs up! It hasn’t become one of my summer staples, but it is a fun dress to wear occasionally!


And more gratuity!

The Project Sewn contestants have made another stellar effort this week with this week’s theme- there are some really knockout clothes and images, so if you haven’t voted for your favourite pink outfit yet, then I suggest you go and do it right away young lady!

Happy voting!

Project Sewn – Challenge One: Style Icon – Vivienne Westwood Anglomania

For the week one ‘Style Icon’ challenge of this season’s Project Sewn, I want to pay homage to fellow Brit, Vivienne Westwood and her Anglomania collection. P1290750_2

I’m not a follower of fashion but I am a fan of Dame Westwood, who has been the UK’s culturally most significant fashion designer for as long as I’ve been alive!

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania!

Vivienne Westwood Anglomania!

She personifies the potent and subversive originality of British fashion and her expansive body of work traces the socio-economic and cultural climate of Britain for the past four decades – my whole life time!


She’s won British designer of the Year twice, in 1990 and 1991 and was honoured with the Order of the British Empire in 1992 and made Dame Vivienne Westwood in 2006.

Bias cut front with drape neck

Bias cut front with drape neck

Dame Vivienne Westwood is the same age as my parents and she continues to sustain the ultimate design contradiction: producing the unexpected while defining the spirit of the decade.

P1290747_2I love that Vivienne uses very traditional British fabrics in her Anglomania collections such as tartan (a woven wool check fabric) and makes them modern and fashionable. I also love her drape neck dresses and decided to combine these two elements – the drape neck dress with side waist-shaping rushing and tartan to make this dress.


I used BurdaStyle pattern 10/2012 #118A for this cowl neck dress in size 36. I made this pattern when the magazine first came out in 2012, in a green herringbone tweed woven wool fabric so I knew that the fit and pattern were fine for me. For my first version, I left the dress unlined and used a Hong Kong finish for the seams and hand stitched the hems. For this version I used this very fine merino wool tartan and decided to line it with a very fine viscose lining fabric.

Merino wool tartan

Merino wool tartan

This did present some extra challenges and made making it much slower – I actually still need to hand sew the hem and the sleeve hems because I didn’t have time to do this before I could get some photos of it in daylight to put on the Project Sewn site!

Darts in back pieces

Darts in back pieces

Inside of the front piece

Inside of the front piece

The dress is simple to make. It has an invisible zipper in the back and back darts, gathering at one side of the front piece and the cowl top.

I’m not sure that the bias cut tartan was a success but it was fun to experiment with the fabric pattern! I only left myself two days to make this because I was in Munich this week at Munich Fabric Start.

I wore my Ralph Pink jumpsuit to the fabric trade fair and I’m so glad that I did! It was comfortable to wear all day.

Ralph Pink jumpsuit at Munich Fabric Start

Ralph Pink jumpsuit at Munich Fabric Start

I’ve cast my vote over at Project Sewn but boy was that a tough decision! How fab are all of those outfits! I don’t want to see any of those ladies leave the competition! I wish them all luck!

And to pass on the textile trend setting motto from Munich Fabric Start for Spring, Summer 2015:

Carpe Diem!

Let yourself be inspired!

Have a great weekend,


Liberty print Archer shirt

Yay, I made a shirt!!


This is the Archer shirt pattern View B from Grainline Studio and I absolutely love it!

Archer shirt by Grainline Studios View B

Archer shirt by Grainline Studios View B

My love for my new Archer shirt is akin to the love you have for a newborn baby. I just can’t stop looking at it and marveling at what I’m made! Not because it’s anything unique. Hundreds of people have made this shirt pattern, it’s not like I’m the first or anything, but making this represents a huge personal milestone.

I’ve finally conquered shirt-making!


It feels like a sewing rite of passage on the road to self-made wardrobe greatness!

The sewing doors that this opens are very exciting. I can now make my hubby a shirt or tackle some more interesting garments for my children. Or just make more shirts for moi!


Either way, I feel like I’ve jumped a hurdle and I’m moving forwards and it feels goood!

P1290201I made this during Archer Appreciation month December 2013 – well almost made it. I ended up finishing it off at the beginning of January but it was the Archer Appreciation fervor that got me motivated to make it in the first place.

I’d had the PDF pattern bought and downloaded for several months but was too initimitated by it to make a start on it. I’m so grateful for the Archer Appreciation drive for getting me going.


I followed Jen of Grainline Studio’s Sew-A-Long for the shirt and it made making it a breeze. The sewalong  breaks the making process down into manageable chunks and holds your hand the whole way. The only tricky part for me was finishing off the collar, but even this wasn’t really difficult, I just waited until I had a chance to finish it in daylight, when I wasn’t too tired so that I could concentrate properly. I make most mistakes when I’m tired and rush things.

I really like the pattern design. The shirt isn’t too fitted, just comfortable. Also the sleeves turned out the perfect length for me. This isn’t the first shirt I’ve made but it is the first well-made shirt that I’ve made and the other patterns that I’ve tried all had sleeves that were too long.


I chose to make this first trial of the pattern in Liberty Art Fabrics tana lawn cotton because:

a) I wanted a small, busy print that would hide any mistakes I made – although this wasn’t necessary thanks to the great sew-a-long instructions!

b) Having seen so many great versions of this pattern and read so many glowing reviews, I was confident that I could go ahead and cut into some ‘good’ fabric because it seemed unlikely that I’d encounter any major fitting issues.

Liberty tana lawn cotton - great for layering

Liberty tana lawn cotton – great for layering

c) I love Liberty tana lawn cotton fabric especially for shirts! It’s easy to sew with and to cut out and it’s great for layering in the cooler months and light and cool to wear in the summer.

I bought my fabric from Shaukat online because it’s much cheaper than buying from Liberty itself. I didn’t alter anything on the pattern and the fit is really good. I did all seams as French seams.

I’ve got so many more of these shirts planned of course, this pattern is just so useful for my everyday wardrobe! It would really be a crime not to repeat it!

On another note – I’ve just finished rearranging and organising my sewing space and I think my youngest daughter is now settled in Kindergarten. So I’m rolling up my sleeves and getting ready for some serious stash-busting!

Watch out Burdastyle project page, here I come!!

Enjoy the weekend,