Denim Dungaree Dress – Pauline Alice Turia Hack

img_0211 This is a make that I had originally finished four months ago (yes, four months ago! I had to check instagram to be sure) but since it has recently undergone a structural change to make it more wearable it feels like a new make. It is based on the Pauline Alice Turia dungarees. I really wanted a dungaree dress after seeing so many nice versions around both online and in the shops. I even tried some on in the shops to be sure I would like it. Finding a pattern I liked wasn’t such an easy feat though. There weren’t so many options in May/June when I was planning this. The Marilla Walker Roberts Collection dungaree dress is nice but I wanted something more traditionally dungaree-like. I love the jumpsuit option in the Roberts Collection and will probably buy it for that alone but the thin straps of the dungarees didn’t appeal to me. Since I made this I have noticed some more options – Rachel from House Of Pinheiro‘s self drafted dress tutorial being one but at the time my best option was to take the Pauline Alice dungarees pattern as a base and hack it into a dress. There were a few people who had done this already so I knew it was possible and the process was made easier by the very helpful tutorial on the Pauline Alice blog.

img_0231   img_0197

The fabric is a really thick, really stiff denim from Mandors that I bought on a mini sewing blogger meet up in Glasgow. They were selling it for £5 per metre which is cheap for Mandors. And I’m not sure why as it’s 100% cotton and a good colour. I thought it would do as an experiment, after all i didn’t know for sure how the hack would fare and making a mess of £5 per metre fabric is always preferable to ruining £10 per metre fabric. The stiffness of this denim helps the dress to hold a nice shape, though, I suspect a different sewing machine might have struggled with the many folds in the pockets and seams. My machine is a heavy duty workhorse and handled it without a whimper.


The tutorial was really easy to follow. The cutting lines are clearly marked on the diagram provided – all I did was curve the blue line on the back piece to create a bit of shaping at the back as I wanted it to hug my back instead of hanging straight down. The issue I had when it was done and I first wore it out was that it was just too big. I had imagined a loose shape at the sides but it just looked shapeless and unflattering. I put up with it for a couple of wears but then I stopped wearing it because it just didn’t feel nice on. I knew all I had to do was unpick the side zip and the bias binding on the inside, take it in and then re-do the zip and binding (and all that topstitching!!!) but I just couldn’t face it. The nagging feeling that you get when you know you should do something but don’t (surely not just me!) pursued me for a while until I could bear the guilt no more and then, three months after making my dungaree dress, I sat down and within an hour I had fixed it. It always amazes me how I can be so enthusiastic about making an item but when it comes to fixing, adjusting sides or taking up a hem I have tendency to leave things languishing in a pile. It’s a terrible habit, I know!


Anyway, that’s all in the past now and I have a dungaree dress that I love and wear often. And it’s better than all the dungaree dresses I tried on in the shops!




Inari Tee Dress (and some thoughts on the fashion revolution)


I’ve jumped on the Inari Tee Dress bandwagon! And what a ride it is too! This is my first foray into the world of Named patterns and so far I’m pretty impressed. When you make this dress it’s easy to see why it’s been so popular – it’s been on an almost constant wardrobe rotation since I finished it because it’s just so dang comfy and that has to be a sure sign of success in anyone’s book. I often make items that only get worn the odd time because they’re not casual or comfortable enough for a day running about with the kids but this dress is all that. It’s a very simple unfussy shape which I like but the addition of the curved side seams and dropped back hem elevate it from boring to cool immediately.

DSC_0895  DSC_0896

I used denim blue cotton jersey fabric from Remnant Kings. It’s a stable knit with minimal stretch but it’s ideal for this dress as the shape is so roomy. I’ve read others saying that they’d size up for a woven fabric but as this size works with this very unstretchy jersey I think it should be fine with woven. I’d like to try viscose or a soft linen next for summer (though perhaps unnecessary – we had snow yesterday. In April!)


Last week I was really happy to be able to tell anyone who would listen that I make my clothes. It’s not something that I generally waffle on about (more to do with the fact that few people I know sew) but last week I felt that I was allowed to be, or even meant to be, evangelical about it because it was Fashion Revolution Week. I sew because I enjoy making things. I studied jewellery design a long time ago and around that same time I also learned to sew (because you can never learn just one craft, right?!) Sewing quickly took over and now I make a lot of my clothes and my kids’ clothes too. I don’t manage everything – far from it – but it has taught me to be much more considered in my shopping habits as I have come to appreciate the time, effort and materials that go into making clothes. I know that for something to be that cheap there must be a pay-off somewhere. When I look at the high street I can’t help but imagine the hot, noisy sweatshops and the people who slave away in them for a meagre wage, the mountains of discarded ‘one-offs’ filling landfill and the variety of pesticides, chemical dyes and finishing agents bearing down on the environment. They say that ignorance is bliss and to me that can be the only reason that many shoppers continue to consume fast fashion in the levels they do. Maybe if we spent more time being evangelical about the dark side of fashion we could change a few minds. I’m working on it anyway.

Fashion Revolution Week has inspired me to keep sewing and to keep talking about it. I loved reading others’ opinions about the fashion industry and why they sew and, of course, seeing their makes. Sewing has become a much more exciting hobby with the advent of social media. There’s much more choice in patterns and styles and so much to be inspired by – my list of patterns to try and clothes to make grows ever longer! But for me Fashion Revolution Week and all the chat about avoiding fast fashion has legitimised the different forms of making and buying fashion that I do. So here are some of them…

I enjoy a refashion…


I shop on Ebay for second hand fashion…


I use organic cotton whenever possible…


And I make fashion.


And always be learnin’…


Happy Friday x



It’s Bright: BHL Charlotte skirt in African wax cotton

DSC_0277  DSC_0288  DSC_0268

A good friend of mine was living in Kenya for a couple of years and was kind enough to haul several metres of various fabrics back for me each time she holidayed at home. African wax cotton is known for its wild prints with vibrant colours and often wacky designs. (This design is not what I would call wacky but I do have one with table fans…yes, table fans!) I love the colours on this fabric and I don’t think the photos accurately show how bright this is. The blue is really blue, the red is really red, the yellow…you get my drift! African cotton seems to be popular at the moment. I’ve seen it in the occasional shop window made into skirts and trousers but never one this bright. I am working my way up to a dress – this stuff would make an amazing dress – but in the meantime here is my By Hand London Charlotte skirt. Here, pattern and fabric are well matched – the simple lines of one allows the crazy lines of the other to shine.

DSC_0275  DSC_0297   DSC_0294

This skirt should be perfect…but…I muslined it a few months ago, then lost a bit of weight, then for some reason didn’t think to try on the muslin(!!!) before making the skirt last week. It is too big now at the waist by a couple of inches – not a huge amount but enough to annoy me so I’ll have to fix it before the xmas party season kicks in. Note to self…always try on muslins! I lined the skirt in duchess satin to give it some body as the cotton on its own was not enough to hold the shape of the skirt. I think it works pretty well if a bit strange. Is it strange? I’m not sure. Anyway, it works.

I am using Etsy to sell on some of my mountain of wax cottons so check here if you are interested. I will be adding more as I work my way through my stash – believe me, I have a lot!

I’m #MadeUp With My Rigel Bomber


I’m pretty chuffed with this jacket. This is the Papercut Rigel Bomber, planned, bought and cut out sometime in…mmmh…March? Okay, so, I have a very annoying habit of starting a project, and then starting another one before the previous one has finished. Now, I usually finish all of those projects eventually but not always in a sensible order. And that’s just the projects that I actually start. There are many more in my head or in my stash pile waiting for their turn on the cutting mat. I partly blame my current lifestyle. With two very small children I don’t have much time to sew. I snatch a couple of hours in the evening and, if I’m lucky, a couple of hours on a weekend morning. It’s certainly not enough time to realise all of the sewing plans in my head so that nice orderly queue of patterns and plans becomes a bit of a rammy as they all jostle to be next on the table. What I need is a deadline! This deadline comes courtesy of Karen at Did You Make That who launched the Made Up Initiative to raise money for and awareness of the National Literacy Trust. This is a cause that really speaks to me as an English teacher and a lover of books. In my day to day I am on the front line trying to improve literacy in my pupils so it’s something I feel passionately about.


Now onto the jacket. I saw this wonderful fabric before I thought of the pattern. It’s a hefty stretch cotton from Fabric Godmother with this amazing granny floral, painterly print. It’s a bit grungy, a bit new romantic and a big bit 90s. That’ll be why I like it so much! I stored it in my head for a while (along with about 200 other bits of fabric and several patterns) but was never really sure what to make with it. Then I saw this by Sally of The Quirky Peach and I knew that I had to make a floral bomber jacket.

I made size S after reading a few reviews. Initially I graded out to M at the hips but when I tried it on for fitting I ended up taking it back out at the sides so that it is S all over. The only change I made to the pattern was adding lining. I wasn’t sold on the idea of a jacket without lining. I don’t like to see the seams and I also like to have that extra layer for warmth. It’s pretty cold here in Scotland, most of the year! It was easy to create a pattern piece for the lining. I just placed the facing on top of the front jacket piece and drew around it to create the lining piece, remembering to add the seam allowance for both lining and facing. I did the same for the back lining piece but also added a few inches to the centre to create a pleat at the back for ease of wearing.


The lining fabric itself deserves a special mention. I’ve been reading for years about rayon bemberg, the lining fabric of choice for many sewers, but could never find it in the UK because we use different names for rayon fabrics. After an evening of hard research I finally found it, or at least I think I have! This is cupro, short for cuprammonium rayon, commonly known by the trade name Bemberg! What a find! I bought black and cream online at Watson and Thornton, pre washed, cut and sewed, and I can tell you it is AMAZING! I hate, no, HATE acetate linings. They are sweaty and fake and I feel that if I am sewing my own clothes I should be making them better than the high street. No looking back now that I have found this stuff. It’s so soft and feels lovely against the skin, and importantly, it’s not sweaty! I actually lined my Floral Linen Laurel with the cream cupro but totally forgot to mention it when I blogged about it so here’s a picture.


So, thanks to Karen for making me finish this beautiful jacket. And thumbs up for the amazing job you have done to increase awareness of this great cause.

Floral Linen Laurel


The Laurel dress by Colette Patterns is one of those dresses that I could wear every day in different colours and fabrics. It’s very versatile. So far I have made four. FOUR! I think it suits me – it’s not too dressy, it’s comfortable, it’s customisable, work-appropriate, modern yet classic, yadda yadda yadda.


This is a bright flowery linen. At least I think it’s linen – there may be some viscose in there as it’s slightly finer than linen. I picked it up on a sale table yonks ago and it sat in the bottom of my stash pile as I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. It makes a lovely Laurel though. I’m surprised that I didn’t figure that out sooner.


The Laurel dress is a real TNT pattern for me. Here’s one I made before. And another. All I changed this time was the shoulder width which I brought in 1cm on each side.

I’m not finished with the Laurel dress. No way!

Burda Style cotton summer dress


Summer’s not here yet but I live in hope. It’s been howling a gale all day – typical West Coast of Scotland weather – and good for nothing except staying indoors and taking photos. And working on my summer wardrobe of course. This is the poetically titled Dress with Gathered Rectangle Skirt and Cap Sleeves 02/2011 by Burda Style. According to the Burda Style website this is one of their most popular patterns and I’m not surprised as it’s an easy breezy summer style that has the perfect amount of vintage flair. In keeping with the vintage shape I used a cotton that I picked up in a charity shop . What a find! I scored 6 metres for about £3 so there’s plenty left to make the family some matching attire should I take a notion to pass us off as the Von Trapps.


I muslined the bodice and based on that I cut a size 38 and did a 1.5 inch FBA. The neckline was a bit low for me so I raised it 2 inches. Other than that the fit is fine. Next time I will probably raise the waist seam an inch as it’s a tad low but nothing I can’t live with on this version. I also changed the zip to a centre back zip instead of the side zip that the pattern calls for. The only major style change is the skirt. I don’t think gathered skirts are the most flattering on me so I changed it to inverted pleats which I measured and then basted in place to check the distribution before committing with the machine.


The bodice is lined and the skirt is underlined in plain black cotton to give it a bit of body since the fabric is quite lightweight. This makes the dress quite hefty and gives the skirt – and the pleats – a bit more definition which I think looks quite nice. Despite the weight I am hoping it will stand up to a hot summers day…though it may be a while before we get one of those in this land of eternal wind and rain!


Three Sorbettos

20150122_114949    20150122_114653    20150122_114841

Things have been slow on the personal sewing front since having my second baby in the summer. Several factors are hampering my stitching  – lack of time, demanding baby, the usual…I’m sure many can relate to this! However, the main issue is breastfeeding and the very negative effect that it has on my daily wardrobe. I can’t wear my dresses unless I want to strip to feed – no thanks – and while I could be stylish in a nice top it is all too easy to reach for a comfy jumper in the sleepy haze of morning. Oh and it doesn’t help that it is currently freezing outside! Now this shouldn’t really stop me from forward planning – I do have some ideas in the pipeline for the Colette Peony and Moneta dresses, McCalls 6696 shirtdress (love it!) and a pencil dress in african wax cotton (I got loads from my lovely friend who works in Kenya) – but there is no point in trying any new patterns until I have stopped nursing and my body has bounced back to normal. I made that mistake two years ago when I fitted a Burda jacket – FBA and all – only for it to be too big in the bust when my body changed post-nursing.

Now…as sewing is highly addictive and one must continue to sew, the best way around this is to sew some repeat patterns.

Enter Sorbetto.


I made this first one a couple of years ago out of an old French Connection tunic that was headed for the bin. It was intended as a muslin and and I had plans for others which never did materialise. Although a muslin it is very wearable. The fabric is a nice, soft chambray and despite the hideous painted plastic buttons (which I have bought replacements for) it is not a bad wee top. I think I cut a size 6 and did an FBA of around 1.5 inches however I can’t be entirely sure since I traced around the modified pattern pieces and didn’t write down the changes I made. I’m pretty sure I also dropped the bust dart by a couple of centimetres as I normally do with Colette patterns.

20150122_114653    20150122_114841

The following two were made recently. The first is a beautifully soft viscose with a lovely drape and an infuriating unwillingness to stay crease-free. Ironing it is like painting the Forth Road bridge – by the time I have made it to the back the front has crinkled again. I’m sure I could spend my life standing at the ironing board trying to tame the thing and for this reason it may not get that much wear however lovely it looks. The second is a shiny polyester – much more practical from a washing and ironing perspective but probably not so good on a hot day! On this version I did a slight dipped hem at the back. It looks incredibly wonky in the photo but it is not in real life.

Both of these tops were stash sewing but I like the pattern so might invest in some summer appropriate fabrics. It might be January but I live in hope that the frost lifts eventually. And at least in the meantime I am sewing something – anything – for myself. There will be more to come…

Maternity Tova

Wiksten Tova with maternity modifications.


This will be my last me-make for a while as my belly is rapidly expanding to accommodate baby number two. There are some lovely maternity patterns out there – Megan Nielsen especially – but I can’t bring myself to spend time and fabric on something that will get so little wear. I made an exception for this dress however, mainly because I had about 4 metres of this cheap linen-look cotton and no sewing plans for anything in particular. I had also been wanting to try out the Wiksten Tova for a while so I convinced myself it would be like making a muslin – an entirely useful and productive way to spend my sewing time (and something that I really should do more often!) I’ve seen a few maternity modifications floating around the internet – I can’t exactly remember where I’ve seen them or what was done to change the pattern – but I figured it would simply be a case of adding a few inches to the front gathers. So that’s what I did.


I cut the M based on my normal measurements so the back/sides/shoulders, etc are as they should be. I then added 4 inches to the centre front and gathered it so that it hits at my belly. While this looks perfectly fine and wearable I don’t think it’s enough extra material for a full-on maternity dress. I am around 5 months in these photos and it fits well but I can’t see that there will be enough space for a 7/8/9 month belly. In that case I may have made the most useless maternity dress. I’ll just have to wear it as much as possible in the meantime.


As a muslin it’s been quite useful however. I made a bit of a mess of the yoke where the two bands meet at the bottom and as a result they are too far apart to put buttons on. I’m not sure how clear that is in these photos. It doesn’t look bad without buttons but it means when they flap open (which they do all the time) it is a bit revealing so I must wear a vest underneath. I’ll know to be more careful with this part on my next make.


I didn’t follow the instructions for the collar insertion because I try to avoid clipping the corners whenever I can. Too often I clip too close and end up with holes or threads poking out and it’s all far more messy than it needs to be. Instead I sewed along the top and understitched before folding and tucking the sides in. This means it’s much neater and there are no risks of holes appearing at the corners. All that’s left to do is stitch the sides shut. Which I really should have done before declaring the dress finished and putting it on! I promise I will get round to finishing it.


So there it is. One maternity dress – hopefully wearable for a bit longer. And if that fails then a pretty good muslin.

Dotty Laurel

Another Laurel. I’m not sorry. I plan to make one in every colour, every print and with every customisation imaginable. Just because I can.


I used a navy and white polkadot stretch cotton for this one. It’s pretty thick so it hangs well with about 3% spandex to give it a very subtle stretch. I think this, however, has slightly warped the grain because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get the polkadots to line up on the seams. They were not running in a straight line. They may look straight but they are not. No, really. So print matching was not to be on this dress. It’s not noticeable anyway. The polkadots kind of dazzle the eye so that all you see is a big mass of moving white dots.


I made no further alterations to the main body of the pattern after my red linen version so this one came together really quickly. All I did was lengthen the sleeves to 3/4 length and I used bias binding tape to finish them. I used the same bias binding on the neck line. It’s from a packet so not a true colour match but I didn’t have enough fabric to make my own. I think it looks fine though. The dress closes with an invisible zip and a hook and eye.



This version has quite a retro look unlike my previous dress. That’s why I love this pattern – it’s a blank canvas that you can really make your own by using different fabrics and embellishments. I’d love to try it with some embroidery around the neckline. Maybe one with a collar; another with pockets; colourblocking; tartan…

I’m not done with this pattern. Nowhere near done.

Laurel in Red Linen


I’ve always loved the simple shift. It’s easy to wear, comfortable, stylish, understated, cool, modern, retro…and the rest. But it’s surprisingly difficult to find them in the shops. I’ve wanted a dress exactly like this forever so when Colette Pattern’s Laurel dress hit the cyber-shelves, I jumped on it. Then I sat on it. For quite a while. I’m not even sure why – too busy? Lacking inspiration? The Laurel competition came and went and despite the many lovely versions floating around the internet I still couldn’t muster up any serious ideas for my Laurel. Recently though I hit upon a steal in Remnant Kings, Glasgow – 2 metres of this gorgeous red linen in the bargain bin for a mere £6! Of course, I had to have it, and it had to become a Laurel.


I made version 3 with the gathered sleeves. After worrying that the double layer of linen would be too bulky for them I think they have turned out rather well.

I’ve made a couple of dresses from Colette Patterns before and they are usually a bit roomier around the bust than other companies so I didn’t do a FBA. I did, however, drop the bust darts by 1″. I cut a size 6 at the shoulders, grading out to an 8 at the tops of the side seams, and had originally cut a 10 at the hips as per my measurements, but when I tried the dress on it was far too big so I took it in to an 8 all the way down. There must be a lot of ease in the pattern because I measured myself as a 10 at the hips. It’s no matter though – I prefer it as it is now – I’ve still got plenty of room to move around and it doesn’t look like a tent on me.


When I bought my supplies I was sure I had a red invisible zip at home but could only find a standard one when it came to zip insertion time. I knew that two big lines of thread running down the back of the dress would look horrid so I decided to try my first hand-picked zip using Sewaholic’s inserting a hand-picked zipper tutorial. I think it worked out fine for a first attempt. Next time I’ll sew slightly closer to the teeth as it pulls open just a tad but not enough to annoy me on this dress – it’s on the back; I don’t see it!


I love love love this dress. I wear it to work as often as I can get away with it because it’s so comfortable. The pattern is perfect (I have made another 2 dresses since that I will blog soon) and the fabric is perfect as the linen skims the body without clinging. I love the colour too. Altogether this is the perfect shift dress. The one I have been dreaming about forever, hoping to find but never have. And I made it myself. With a £6 piece of fabric. This one was meant to be.