BHL Sabrina dress v3

sabrina front view by fountain

This is my third Sabrina dress. And the best-fitting one yet. The first one was the result of a pattern test for By Hand London and the second, more recent version, was made so I didn’t keep wearing the first one all the time! It was also meant to address some of the fitting issues. But if you read that post, you’d see that I only created more!

But this one is certainly close to the mark with regards a perfect fit.

Most dress patterns come up too big across the back bodice for me. It’s not something I’ve ever properly addressed before I made a Sabrina, mostly because I didn’t know how. But it was as simple as taking a horizontal dart from the centre back and tapering to the armscye.

Sabrina dress back view

If I’m honest, it’s still a little snug across the hips. Probably because this fabric is less forgiving. It’s a sturdy brocade-like viscose. It has shiny woven ‘characters’ on a matt background which works great in the sunshine. The shop assistant guessed it was a polyester, which at £8 a metre stumped us both a little, so he took a sample outside to do a burn test. And it turned out there was more than just a little natural fibre in there!

viscose brocade close up

I also hemmed little bit shorter than the other two.  The skirt section flares out perfectly, especially in this fabric. Perfect for a bit of flirty, flarey fun!

sabrina silhouettes

bhl sabrina battersea

The weather was gorgeous on Wednesday as it is today, and promises to be on the weekend too! So Mr O suggested Battersea Park for our shots. I wasn’t too sold on walking from The Kings Road in Chelsea in high heels but he is mostly and annoyingly right with the no pain, no gain philosophy!

sabrina dress

I remember saying, not so long ago, that I couldn’t bear to make the same thing more than once, given all the amazing options out there. But I’m happy to make as many as it takes if it means I get the perfect fit, and the perfect fabric of course. I still have plans for more of these using some more challenging fabrics but those plans are on hold for a little while, as I focus on what I’m meant to be doing: Dan’s blazer and my Big Vintage Sewalong dress for example… ooops!

The By Hand London Sabrina dress pattern comes in two variations. This one and a lovely strappy button-front one…mmmm… no stop it, Janene. Focus!!


A quilted mini skirt

quilted skirt front

This skirt wasn’t on a list. Moreover it jumped to the top of the queue once I’d seen the fabric and decided I had to have a quilted skirt. I knew too that it would be a perfect pairing for my Sarah Shirt that I tested for By Hand London.

When I stumbled across the quilty roll of fabulousness in A-One, Goldhawk Road,  I had a flashback to some seriously stored inspiration: I fell in love with Marie’s quilted pleather skirt 2 years ago and clearly it didn’t leave my head. But I also saw Paloma Faith sporting a pink pvc quilted skirt on The Voice a couple of weeks ago (can’t find visual ref, sorry) which clearly gave a nudge to dislodge to said stored inspiration.

quilted mini skirt back

It’s not A-line, like Marie’s or Paloma’s though it would have been good to eliminate the darts. I figured that Sarah needed to do all the hollering and she needed a small straight skirt to wear underneath. It probably could have been more understated but I wasn’t up for sewing something so boring!

I used an existing self-drafted skirt pattern and shortened it. The poomfy fabric is totally unsuitable for a waistband so I faced it with some leftover heavyweight polyester satin. No interfacing needed. In fact no more bulk whatsoever needed! I did understitch and pressed with a cloth on a low heat but with all my might to get the waist seam vaguely flat!

quilted mini skirt facing

I haven’t lined it yet. Still pondering whether to or not. There are no messy edges inside, the quilty fabric doesn’t fray, but it does rustle when I walk! Might be a bit irritating for my work colleagues when I trot back and forth to the kitchen to make a cuppa. Will road-test it next week and test for ‘tuts’!

No fancy shoot this week (save the glimpses of it on the Sarah Shirt post). Mr O is away gigging with The Redfords, at a wedding fair, and I’m desperately trying to save some time so that I can get on with his #Blazerof2016 blazer toile!

So please forgive me as I bugger off to defluff the table and get cutting into that calico.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, all x


Camping it up in a Burda Maxi

Burdastyle Maxi DressThis is the Burdastyle Maxi dress from May 2014 issue and it literally took an evening to trace and make, plus a morning to finish seams and hem.

I love the gathered front loop detail created by some clever drafting and a drawstring. The straps are a lovely and incredibly practical feature too. Each strap is folded in half and the fold is attached in position to the front bodice. This creates a double strap which separates over the shoulder where the visual is 4 spaghetti straps at the back. No irritating slips off the shoulder. No embarassing wardrobe malfunctions!

And I have to mention the fabric. I went in asking for linen lawn. I knew it was a bit of an ask and I’d anticipated the screwed-up-face response that I got in each and every shop. I even predicted the suggestion of cotton lawn instead. No, no, no. Burdastyle definitely stated linen lawn. Kind of a contradiction of terms really, so I’m wondering if its a translation thing. Anyone know?

So with no linen lawn and an urgency to make this dress before I went away, I asked if they had anything soft and drapey. No not polyester. Eewww sweaty! Though to be fair it was very soft and drapey. No not cotton. It’s not nearly drapey enough. Too crispy and neat. Apart from the lawn, possibly. But oh the creasing. I was tempted by tangerine muslin. Really tempted. But I’d have to have lined it for modesty purposes and I really couldn’t be arsed. I was about to give up when the viscose was presented as an option. Only in black or white but also only £4.99, with all the softness and drapeyness I could ask for. Bargain! Done!

And what a joy to work with. I took my time to cut it out because it did move around a bit on the table. especially when I was cutting on the bias. It has got a little natural stretch to it. But to be fair. It is drapey, black and relatively casual so no glaring errors are going to cause a stir here.

I made it a couple of weeks ago when I last went camping so this was it’s second trip out into the wilds of West Sussex!

So there I was, minding my own business, floating around the campfire in my new maxi dress, relishing the soft swishes of viscose around my ankles with stars in the sky and Mr O at my feet. Doesn’t really get much better than this . . .

. . . then this happened . . .

Burda Maxi Dress photobombed

Right on cue!

It’s a small miracle I got the first picture sans bombing to be honest!

I was going to leave out the in-seam pockets to hurry the process. I never really got the excitement when other people go on about pockets. But I’m glad I did and boy do I understand now! Torch and lighter in one, cash and phone in the other. Look, no bag!

And who wants serious posy photos any hoos?!

Burdastyle Maxi dress photobombed

You get to see how the straps separate at the back in the picture above. Clever, no?

You can also get an idea of how the elastic at the waist cinches the bodice in to create a much more flattering silhouette than it would have done otherwise!

You must also be feeling my delight at the depth of my in-seam pockets!

The bombing barrage came from nowhere. Actually it came from all angles. Sabotaged good and proper by a gang of onesie-clad cheeky girls!

Photobombed by onesie girls

The absolute cheek of it!

photobombed by the girls

Hang on a minute. Remind me whose shoot this was?

There was only one thing for it . . .

Maxi dress bombs the children

Seriously ladies, this dress is great for camping. It’s great for slinking down the shops too. And methinks in a drapey sandwashed silk it would be super sexy and glamourous, no?!

If you don’t have May’s Burdastyle mag then here’s a link to where you can download a pdf pattern.

And for anyone who is keen to know more about the delights of viscose, here is a fine clarification of the making process and its properties.

Hope you all had fun sewing times this weekend. Or maybe you were out camping it up too?





Pinstripes & parasols

pinstripe skirt

Now there’s nowt very exciting to say about a pinstripe pencil skirt. It’s pinstripy and pencilly… and that’s about it really. But it can’t possibly go without documentation, especially since Mr O and his buddy the camera made it look more interesting than it actually is!

pinstripe skirt outside St. Pancras station

I self-drafted the pattern so it fits well and it used up just under a metre of leftover wool-mix fabric and  a piece of purple stash lining which makes it cost-free, sort of!

pinstripe skirt and parasol

The main reason for making a garment so dull, was to rehearse the fitting process before I make a long awaited-skirt for my friend, who bid for it in the school auction! (More about that soon hopefully). But dull and boring as it may be, this skirt does make for a great go-to for work.

back of skirt

I made it a last week but needed some divine inspiration before shooting it. And then I spotted these beautiful brollies over at Masato Studio Boutique! (Yes, they are brollies and not parasols but that would kind of ruin the whole alliteration thing, don’t you think?)

Red Umbrella

It was well worth the investment. Total distraction from skirt but much more interesting photos… win! My little red beauty is made by Love Umbrellas. They do some really cute heart shaped ones too. Rainy days most certainly wont get me down any more!!

pinstripe skirt

Mr O took these shots around St Pancras Station, London, today, Just after I had the most lovely lunch with some of my favourite sewing ladies: Amy, Sally, Clare, Rehanon and Alison. They had all done their fabric shopping in the morning and I was so pleased to catch them for a couple of hours and a couple of G&Ts over at Drink Shop & Do. Boy I love that place! Should have really got Mr O up earlier to get an impromptu shot of us all but heyho can’t have it all!

St Pancras Station

Burda drawstring top

‘Well about bloomin’ time!’ I hear you say… again! After all those reviews, all those bigging-up posts harping on about what I fully intended to make, you’d think I’d have rustled up at least one of those Burda goodies by now.

Well here it is. Care of Burdastyle Magazine, May 2013 issue, the drawstring top.

drawstring top
Fashioned from a lovely piece of chiffon that was hanging around after the fabric swap at Rachel’s meet up back in April. Incidentally, if anyone can put their hands up as to whom was the kind donor I would be so happy to know.

I had no idea it was destined for this top but I was secretly hoping that whatever I made, it was going to incorporate a flower placement, both front and back. And guess what? It does!

drawstring neck
It is the most simplest top in the world. One you have to draft yourself, mind! And I don’t mind that at all as it goes.

I’ve been tinkering with all sorts of pattern adjustments recently, including an FBA. Not for me, you understand. Which is why it’s far more exciting. I am making a prom dress for my friend’s gorgeous daughter. But more news about that in a couple of weeks. The dress is a big secret until her big day!

Anyway, I digress. Back to the top. Well, actually there is nothing much more to add, other than I figured out how to cut chiffon in a straight line after I had cut it on the wonk! I thought I was being clever by pulling a thread at the hem to make sure I hemmed it even. But actually I’d cut it completely on the wonk and the whole thing ended up being about 2 inches shorter than planned as a result :-/

I used a rolled hem… not by using my rubbish rolled hem foot… but by hand. It was a slow but sure process but it worked just fine.

The pieces consist of a front and a back, seamed only at the sides, with a drawstring around the neck. The raglan armholes are rather large – much larger than the photographs show – and you will therefore require a modesty garment underneath unless you reduce them beforehand.

This is how it appears in the mag:

chiffon drawstring top from Burda May 2013I made it in a panic when I thought I was running out of Me-Made-May garments but never actually got round to wearing it because of this stupid pretend summer we are having. But it was perfect for today’s Father’s day date at Café Rouge and even got the seal of approval from my eldest daughter…Win!

drawstring chiffon top

Now, back to that prom dress…