Cambilex – when Sewaholic meets By Hand London


I was going to call this the Bastard Love Child dress, but bastard is the wrong word to use. I really really love this dress, which is probably why there are so many pictures, sorry.

I got this gingham in Kestrel Makes Spring Sewing Swap from my partner Louise, aka Tabatha Tweedie from Thread carefully.  I love other people’s gingham creations,  I have pinned a gorgeous gingham Vivienne Westwood dress on my Pinterest but I have always talked myself out of using it. The reason? School dresses.  I know that there is no way I am going to be mistaken for a school girl, but I also don’t want to be accused of dressing like my eight year old daughter.  However when I opened my Spring sewing Swap parcel I was really happy. As I said, I really love other people’s gingham creations and there would be no talking myself out of it this time.

After seeing Louise’s and Winnie’s I amost made a shirt dress. I also wanted a quick make to wear this weekend so at the last minute I decided to make a Cambie, inspired by Roisin’s here and here which are about as un-school dressy as you can get.

I wrote about the problems I had with the fit on my last Cambie here.   Since then I have had a revelation.  I was reading this post on the Colette Hawthorn Sewalong, about shoulder adjustments, when I saw this:

‘For narrow shoulders, the armholes sit too far out and off the shoulder. There is also an excess fabric across the upper chest and upper back.’

I always have to pinch an inch or so out of the back and front of things I make because of excess fabric. With my last Cambie I also made the straps shorter, which messed up the proportions of the bodice. Maybe instead of faffing around with all these adjustments I just needed to do one for narrow shoulders.  I’m afraid I couldn’t be bothered to get too technical, so I folded my existing pattern rather than cutting and measuring, etc…  Despite this I think it’s worked! I finally have a fit on the Cambie that I am happy with.  Actually it is a smidgen tight,  but not uncomfortable so.  I think it is because I made the back seam allowance quite wide so that I could do a lapped zip again, as they are my new favourite kind of zip.  As you can see I lowered the back again, because I wanted to.

Once I’d got the bodice done I realised that it still needed a bit more va voom. And which pattern has the most va voom of any pattern I own? The Elisalex of course.  I absolutely love the curves I get from the Elisalex skirt so I decided to use it with the Cambie bodice to guarantee there would be no mistaking this for a school dress. I missed off the cambie waistband as the Elisalex skirt joins quite high up on the original pattern.  I made a rough attempt to line up darts and pleats, which turned out pretty good.  And there you have it – the Cambilex.

I bribed my daughter to take photos down at the Harbour.


P1210838I think I still need to work on breathing in photos.


Looking at the photos it does look shorter at the back than the front, but I don’t think it is in real life.





We got to the harbour early so it was pretty empty.  By this time tomorrow however it will be heaving as the crowds descend for the Whitstable Oyster festival.  I’m not a big fan of oysters myself. If I want something chewy, salty and slimey why would I pay for the privilege when I can just pick my nose and eat it?  However the Festival is not just about oysters. It is paradise for foodies with local producers selling everything from cider to olives. There are live bands, competitions, something for everyone in fact. It makes me really proud that this is my adopted home town. Come on down and join us, but if you do don’t even think of driving unless you enjoy sitting in queues or driving in circles for hours looking for a parking space. Your best bet is probably to come here by train.  And here are a couple of photos from previous years to give you a taste of what to expect:


Maybe see you there?

60 thoughts on “Cambilex – when Sewaholic meets By Hand London

  1. Marie

    What an inspired fabric combo…great idea!!! And I love the gingham…I have some large print gingham in my stash that I’m eager to use up soon!

  2. violicious

    It’s like being a mad scientist isn’t it? I love mixing the best fits from patterns in to one super piece. And gingham? Love gingham. Nice job!

    1. The Amazing Taracat Post author

      Thanks! I’ll pass on your comment to my daughter, she’ll be over the moon. She’s way better at photos than my husband so she’s the one I usually ask. It’s costing me a fortune in bribes though 🙂

  3. carlalissa

    I love your dress….and surely it doesnt look like school girl on the contrary has a special flare. I love gingham too and I fear the same. I can surely say that the style is far from being inspired from a school girl uniform.

  4. Shar

    I LOVE this! What a great idea to put these two patterns together. I may have to buy some gingham now….

  5. Fiona

    What a brilliant idea! The shapes of those two patterns go together really well and both really suit you. Not school dressy at all!

  6. sewexhausted

    I love gingham too… your dress looks beautiful and definitely not school girlish at all!! And I appreciate all of the pics… not just the ones showing off you and your great dress but I like looking at all the things other people are experiencing elsewhere in this world… so thanks for sharing! ~Laurie

  7. Gjeometry

    Great dress mash-up, I just love it! And the blue and white gingham fits really well into your harbour picture scene. Hope you had fun at the festival and hope you wore your fabulous new dress!

  8. Pingback: Anna Rose – a dress from By Hand London. My first Anna… | Sew Busy Lizzy

  9. Shelley Gibb

    Just found your blog via the Colette Hawthorn vote; yours if definitely the best. Maybe I was drawn to it as I am originally from Whitstable, teach and am not adverse to a bottle of something on the beach. Don’t worry there’s no Single White Female shit going on. I have enjoyed reading your blog, totally with you regarding the sewing for small girls/myself thing.
    Are there any good fabric shops near to Whitstable? I only know of the one in Harbour Street and C & H in Canterbury. Always looking to sneak in a bit of cheeky yarn/fabric shopping!

    1. The Amazing Taracat Post author

      Hi Shelley! Yay, another Whitstable local! (Although technically I need to live here a bit longer before I qualify) Do you still live locally? Thank you so much for voting for me, I really appreciate it. I usually use the fabric shop on Harbour Street if I need something straight away, they are lovely in there, but I’m afraid I haven’t found any more close by. I usually get my fabric online, Minerva Crafts and Abakhan are great, or Ebay for vintage fabric. Although you do take a chance on whether it is any good on Ebay. Or I wait for our Sewing Meet Ups and splurge, the last one was Birmingham and there is one in Goldhawk Road, London on Saturday- unfortunately I can’t make it. More and more though I am trying to sew from my stash, or use second hand fabric – I have found some great bedding and dresses I can use for fabric in Whitstable charity shops

  10. Zoe

    “If I want something chewy, salty and slimey why would I pay for the privilege when I can just pick my nose and eat it?” Exactly how I feel about oysters! Love the dress too 🙂


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