Tuesday, 3 July 2018

A new holiday purse

Pattern: The Kristine ID Wallet by Uniquely Michelle
Fabric: Home Dec weight for the exterior and linen for the lining

I am planning a few trips over the summer holidays and for times when we are down at the beach for example I wanted a little purse that would hold just the essentials like ice cream money and a few cards. 

I have a little bit of home dec fabric at home, but nothing I wanted to make a purse out of. We attended The Creative Craft show at the weekend, which was brilliant! My daughter, surprisingly, really enjoyed coming with me and wants to go again next year. She really liked all the crafty demos. There were fabric sellers galore, and I did purchase a little bit (I was very restrained). Amongst my booty was a £5 grab bag of assorted home dec fabric and trimmings. I liked the colour scheme so I blindly picked up a bag.

Just the right sort of thing for trying out a new pattern.

This purse/wallet is the perfect size for slipping in my beach bag. It isn't too bulky and the wrist strap makes it a bit more portable as well as giving me some added security when walking about with it.

You can fit a few cards in the two card slots underneath the envelope flap. The flap clicks shut nicely with a snap. The pattern suggested a little magnetic clip but I didn't have any to hand. This snap or even some velcro works just as well.

I recently got some little woven labels, and this is the first project I have managed to use them for. I am very happy with them, they look great. I ordered them online from Wunderlabel, and the whole process was really easy. After all these years of sewing, it is about time my makes got some proper labels!

So, the top of the bag has a zip which opens out into a nice roomy lined pocket. A good size for loose change and a locker key.

The reverse side of the purse has an ID window. This is one of the features that sold the pattern to me. I would like to be able to put my membership card or train card in there so I don't have to go rummaging through to find them. The frame has a rectangle of clear vinyl in there, perfect for using the cards on scanners etc.

You need a couple of bag making supplies for this project. I needed a swivel snap hook for the wrist strap (you can also make a longer lanyard option if that suits your needs). Hubby managed to source some on Etsy that are absolutely beautiful.

All in all, I am really happy with my little purse and found the sewing pattern to be thorough and easy to follow.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Oliver + S Cartwheel Dress

Pattern: Cartwheel Dress by Oliver + S
Size Made: 7
Fabric: Woodland Clearing by Robert Kaufman (Liesl Gibson)

I made this dress back in May when I was auditioning patterns for her birthday dress. I ended up using the Garden Party pattern instead, but as a bonus, she ended up with two choices. Lucky Girl!

Relatively new to the market, this pattern has a really interesting and clever construction method. It is a wrap-style dress, with no closures other than ties (which can be sewn to wrap around the front or around the back) and some velcro, which is hidden underneath the skirt section.

A sew-along was hosted over on the Oliver + S blog at the end of May, which is a great visual aid for showing off the details of the construction.

We really like the look and feel of this design. It is well fitted in the bodice area with subtle cap sleeves, which are great for summer. 
The wrap section crosses over with enough overlap so it gives good coverage and no worries for me. 
The velcro tabs underneath, which you could use a snap for instead, seem to hold firm even under the most active play. 

I liked the look of View A with the ties at the front, my little one would like them at the back. I will be happy to oblige her and make another View B version sometime soon.

The Woodland Clearing fabric was a lucky find for me. I bought what was left on the roll when I spotted it at the fabric shop and it was just enough to make this dress with none left over. Phew!

I would heartily recommend this pattern for a cute summer dress. We will be getting a lot of wear out of this one.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

A Spring Birthday Dress

Pattern: Oliver + S: Garden Party Dress

Fabric: Liberty lawn for the main and blue quilting cotton for the bands

Size made: 7

My little beauty turned 7 this month. This feels incredibly old to me and I am a little scared how fast time is ticking. We were discussing her birthday a few weeks ago and she asked me what dress I was making her for her special day. Up until that point I hadn't given the matter much thought. 

My brain started scanning through my pattern inventory versus my fabric stash and I was thinking of a possible match when she asked "Can it be blue? And pretty?"
Right. This required a shopping trip.

We went shopping together and happily settled on this delicate and summery Liberty lawn. I was delighted because, you know, Liberty! Luckily for us, there was a sale on all the older stock Liberty fabrics so we got a bargain.

I actually intended to make up the new Oliver + S Cartwheel Dress so I did a muslin to check on the style, the fit and the pattern itself. So infact she has a spare dress. Once I had finished the Cartwheel I took a step back and thought "does that feel like a birthday dress?" The very fact that I asked myself that, gave me my answer. No.

I love the pattern and she will get loads of wear out of it. I will certainly make another one and there will be a blog post soon, once I have photographed her in it. But I wasn't vibing birthday.

Luckily, I found the Garden Party in my pattern box. This is one I haven't made up yet. The sleeveless versions on my web searches looked light and girly and full-filled the criteria.

I enjoyed sewing this enormously. The shirred bodice looks beautiful and the bands give the dress balance and structure. It is easy to put on (I sized up and at this stage, she doesn't even need the button undoing to get it on and off). I love it!

My thread chains are getting better too. The first one I did on another dress tangles easily whenever it gets washed. This time I used 3 strands of embroidery thread instead of regular sewing thread and it has a little bit more body to it. Fingers crossed it won't tangle!

So there we have it. One happy girl, Mummy did well. She wore it on her birthday and wanted to wear it the next day too. 

I also got to tick another unused Oliver + S pattern off my hit-list. I own about 5-6 patterns that I have yet to sew up and the challenge is on to make them before my girls size out of the range altogether.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Closet Case Patterns: Clare Coat

Pattern: the Clare Coat by Closet Case Patterns
Size made: 14
View B
Fabric used: Wool Coating from Minerva Crafts

This is the project I have been looking forward to and dreading in equal measure. I still find coats quite intimidating even though I have made 2 duffles for my daughters, 2 asymmetrical zipper coats, and numerous lined hooded jackets. There is still a fear.

This is the first time I have used a Closet Case pattern, despite owning the Ginger jeans (I'm still building up to those) and I found the pattern a delight to use. The instructions are plentiful yet clear and I didn't struggle over any of the steps. I did follow the sewalong because it would have been silly not to use such a valuable resource.

The sewalong even has pre-sewing steps where you can read up on style inspiration and fabric choices before you decide or buy any supplies. That is brilliant information, and all in one place making it easy to flick back to.

So, my coat, as you see is the view B option. This is a shorter length, ending at the hip, double breasted with inseam pockets, full length sleeves and a deep funnel neck collar.

When prepping this pattern, it seems like there are a billion pieces to cut out. This is because the sleeve is divided into front and back pieces, then there are side panels, front pieces, inner front facings, lining, interfacing etc etc..... 
It took me quite a while and I had to be quite thorough about labelling everything incase I forgot which piece was which.

The way the sleeve is cut though, is beautiful. It has great shaping and you have a little dart on the inner elbow. I don't mind plodding through lots of little preparation steps when you end up with something that feels as nice as this to wear at the end.

I love the collar! It is sturdy enough to stand up on its own around the back even when the collar is folded open at the front and it is so nice to keep that wind out.

I can't help feeling a bit 'Sherlock' with the collar framing my face.

I sourced the large sew in snaps on Ebay. I went for the 30mm size which are quite large, but look great. They click in with a solid audible snap, so I am confident this coat will stay put when worn.

The snaps are situated mid collar opening and just below the collar-body seam. It keeps the closure nice and tight around your neck. And, yes, as you can see below, it is good for hiding in!

My lining is a slippery acetate and it slides on and off beautifully. I am really happy with how it came together. In hindsight, I wish I had made one side of the pocket bags from the coating fabric because I would have preferred the feel of a softer, more solid fabric in there.

 Another thing I need to note, for myself, is that the back piece should be fully interfaced next time, rather than just at the shoulders and hem. I am probably the only one who will notice, but I can tell that the finish is a little different on the surface of the fabric where the interfacing has bonded. Next time I will cut a whole piece out.

It may be Spring, but I think I will be wearing this coat for a while longer yet. As we say around these parts, I am a bit nesh and feel the cold. So it is staying on the peg for as long as possible!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

My Brief History of Oliver and S Sewing

Over at Oliver and S, the team are celebrating their 10 year anniversary, as well as the release of pattern number 50

I have been sewing with these patterns since my eldest was 4 years old and they are an integral part of why my love of sewing has developed over the years. 
If you have never sewn with an Oliver and S pattern, there are some free ones to give you a taster on the website. You will soon see how clever the patterns are and how easy the instructions are to follow. 

Liesl is capturing lots of memories in her anniversary blog posts, and that got me thinking about all the times I have used the patterns in the past few years. I browsed my photo library and then started grouping the patterns together to see how many times I have used them. It is safe to say that my girls have grown up wearing Oliver and S and will continue to do so for many years to come!

Some of the clothes were made for specific reasons, be that a play or a dress up day at school. Some for special birthdays (well, all birthdays are special, but you know what I mean), some for gifts. Looking at the photographs for me bring back so many evocative memories. If you will indulge me, I wanted to share them with you.

Grab a cuppa, this is a long post! So here goes....

Firefly Jacket

One of the singles patterns. Only made once but it looks lovely on.

Art Gallery

This is one of those sewing memories. I made the waistcoat and trousers for my eldest when she starred as Willy Wonka for a school production. I didn't own the pattern before but knew when I got my costume requirements, that I needed it!

 Lullaby Layette

If you know someone who is expecting a baby, this is an absolute must-buy! These pants were made for a school friend who had a baby boy and while I didn't make the jacket from the pattern, I knitted up a tiny sweater to go with them. I may be using this pattern again in the near future as a few friends are expecting, and I can't wait to make the full set.

 Family Reunion

My daughters first true love! She wore the purple version constantly. Whenever it was clean. Sometimes when it wasn't!

 After School

One of my all time favourite patterns are the After School Pants. There is testimony to that on the Oliver and S blog, where I was honoured to be asked to write about them in the Favorite Patterns series. They make fantastic jeans and are very hardwearing with all those sturdy side seams, yet girly enough for my two with the optional ruffles.

School Days Coat 

Something I never dreamt I could make was a proper warm coat. This pattern held my hand all the way through and I jumped with joy when the project was completed!

Music Class

Ahh the beautiful Music Class blouse makes me smile everytime. The sweet peter pan collar and girly pleats make this a sew to be proud of. Both the skirt and blouse are part of my core school uniform sewing patterns. I have made more versions of this that I can count.

Music Box Jumper

Another staple for school uniform in our house. I have never made this as a regular dress and probably should before my time runs out.

Bubble Dress

Two of these dresses were gifted. I have made it with or without the elastic in the hem and made a themed fox version for the Gingerbread Man play my little girl took part in at nursery. My favourite was the blue dress in the centre photo. 

Jump Rope Dress

Every summer dress for school has been made using both versions of this pattern. The pockets are roomy and hold many treasures (or sometimes just tissues). The instructions were the first placket instructions I ever tackled and I just wanted to shout 'Yes!' from the rooftops once it was finished. Such a beautiful pattern and one that has become a firm favourite for many people.

Fairytale Dress

The Birthday Dress! How could this not be the most perfect pattern for birthday parties and celebrations. I thought I had made more of these, and am shocked that I have only ever sewn it once. I have pulled out the instructions countless times for the invisible zipper installation, because it makes perfect sense of a tricky sewing step. Maybe that is why I think there should be more dresses!

Class Picnic

I came to this pattern quite late on and bought it on the basis of the gorgeous shorts that kept popping up in the Flickr group. The shorts are so satisfying to make and the top is one of those things that I didn't think I needed in my life, but once I had made it, I realised it was an absolute gem.

Field Trip

I simply must make some more of these cargoes! They are quite time consuming but all those small steps make a fantastic pair of pants. The tee I have made up a few times, even using sweatshirt fleece as a quick sweater for Scouts camp when I discovered we needed one the night before.

Tea Party

The first of the original designs and one of the prettiest sundresses to boot. The pink one with its matching dolly sized dress, was a birthday gift to a school friend and the cream Kokka print was the first dress I ever sewed L as a toddler.


I use the dress view as a nightgown and the skort as school uniform. I have only sewn the top up once and it makes a lovely summer vest. The shorts can be sewn on their own without the skirt and they are nice and simple for pairing with summer tops.


I love the girly-ness of this skirt. It is fully lined, making the finish look professional, and the waistband casing is genius.
The top I have only ever made once, but absolutely loved it. It has gone off to warmer climates now so it has a second life. I ran out of time to make more of these because the pattern sadly only goes up to age 5, but like the Puppet Show shorts, it look so cute on young children, so my advice is, make it while you still can!

Hide and Seek Dress

We don't have a lot of warm weather over here and to find a dress pattern with longer sleeves, that looks as smart as this one does, is a pure joy. The girls look lovely in both of these versions and I always get compliments whenever they are worn.

Lunchbox Tee and Culottes

The lunchbox tee has become the go-to top in our house. We wear the short sleeved versions ALL THE TIME! (Boo and I are both in the Bento tee - the adult version - now) I have made the long sleeved tee into a dress as well (but couldn't find my photo).
The culottes have been made twice for school, below are the wool pair that kept her snuggly last winter. The black pair were made from velveteen and the flowery pair from baby needlecord.

Nature Walk Pants

The ultimate comfy chilling out pants! The grey pair were made from fleece backed sweatshirting as joggers. The other pair were made as pyjama bottoms out of a cotton jersey. I did a lettuce hem on them to match the vest top. They were a big hit!

Puppet Show

My first ever make was the plain pink tunic top. It was a great introduction to the brand and I took my time learning all the different steps and remember really enjoying myself as I tried out new techniques. 
I made the red shorts next and they went on our beach holiday where she ran into the sea fully clothed on the first day!
I dressed her up as Alice in Wonderland for World Book Day and used 2 plain blue pillowcases to make the dress version, which was worn with a little white apron and long white socks

The shorts are fantastic. They are so versatile and look very sweet on. When I made the flowery pair with matching Bucket Hat, I lined them completely so they looked perfect on the inside. This set was a birthday present for a school friend.


My most traced off pattern! The skirt, trousers and top all got worn without complaint. The striped top is my favourite.


I use the 2+2 skirt as school uniform a lot. It is just so easy to wear. 

Sunday Brunch

The jacket to this pattern is absolutely gorgeous! Mine was made from a baby needlecord and the attention to detail on the inside is a sewing lesson in itself. This one will test your binding skills.
I loved the little printed skirt and it reminds me of a day out in the Peak District eating Bakewell tarts whenever I see the photos.


I just love this skirt and will make many more for L. The pockets are very cleverly constructed and the placket makes it stand out. Not just your average skirt!

The yellow top was my first attempt at knit fabrics using a large womens tee as practice. I soon got the hang of it and the girls wear the tee's and the longer dresses all the time. 

Seashore Dress

How gorgeous is this pattern? This is one I am so glad I made. I love the cut of the dress and the pockets at the bottom. 
I used a mish-mash of patterns to make a Queen Elsa dress. I used the bodice of the Seashore and attatched it to a Heidi and Finn Tee (the Tulip Tee) which has an all-in-one upper bodice, making the two patterns attach perfectly. 

Playtime Dress

I haven't made enough of these by far. It looks lovely on and the leggings that go with the pattern are a really good fit. The horse print one was a present for my niece, and the spotty version was Boo's Christmas Day dress one year.

Ice Cream

The strawberry print version was the first one I made (and the only dress version, that I can remember making) The tops are easy to make and wear. The one in the center is a Liberty print that we bought on a weekend trip to London and is so light and soft to wear. 


My little scamp loved wearing her robot dress! I have packed that one away and will keep it safe. Such a great pattern.


As soon as I saw this pattern, I knew I wanted to make a gingham version. I have a soft spot for that little top with its lace trim. I must put the gathered skirt version on my to-do list as it is the one that attracted me to the pattern and I haven't made it yet!

Phew! If you have made it this far, well done!

I think spending some time going over my makes has done me some good. I remember why I made some clothes and how I wanted to go back and make some of the other versions. I still have some unused patterns to make as well. Hopefully, this will give me the boost to crack the envelopes open!

As you can see, Oliver and S patterns have been part of my life for so many years now, where would I be without them! So Happy 10th Anniversary to Liesl, Todd and team and long may it continue!