So the winner of the Simplicity 2369 pattern is……….

Simplicity 2369

The trouble with doing giveaways is that I always feel really mean to the people who have made the effort to write lovely comments but haven’t won.  I’m sorry that I can’t give all of you a prize.  However the winner of the Simplicity pattern is ….

drum roll…..

Number 3 !   Drawn at random by my youngest child.
Comment number three was from Karen, who already has the perfect butterfly fabric for this dress.  If you email me with your address, Karen, I will stick it in the post for you.

I have decided to go with the the floral fabric for my version. Now I just need some sewing time to get started on it.



Simplicity GBSB Pattern Giveaway!

Firstly, thank you so much for all your comments congratulating me on my writing success, you are all so lovely and it really does mean a lot.
Secondly, look what I got!


Yes, I’m going to attempt wrap style dress number two, courtesy of Simplicity.  I know I am not alone in having been glued to the Great British Sewing Bee over the last few weeks, and after my attempts at a wrap dress I was really pleased to see the contestants tackling one.  So when Simplicity offered me a pattern to sew a GBSB inspired garment I jumped at the chance to try one of their wrap dresses. They very generously sent me two copies of Simplicity 2369, the pattern that David made, so I am offering one of you the size 16 – 24 copy.  To enter leave me a comment below, I’m happy to send it anywhere, and I will pick a winner at random next Thursday, the 20th of March.

Now I just need to decide which fabric to use.

Animal Laurel on the beach

photo 4 (2)Has it really been that long since I posted something?

If you want an excuse I can actually offer a good one this time – I got some really exciting non-sewing related news a couple of weeks ago.  I was shortlisted for the Telegraph Harvill Secker Crime Writing Competition, .  I didn’t win, but despite that suddenly everything seems to be moving very quickly.  People are interested in my stuff!  I’m not saying that I’m going to be the next Agatha Christie or anything, but to know that there are people out there who think people will want to read what I write is pretty amazing, and has spurred me on to start taking my writing more seriously and make more time for it.

The downside is that there are only 24 hours in a day. I still have a day job and a family who require my attention, so I have done less sewing (and sleeping) than I would like. When I have been able to sew I have been sticking to quick, easy, TNT patterns to make things that I know I will wear.  This is another Laurel.  I actually finished this dress the day before Tilly released her Coco pattern, and as soon as I saw it I did a big ‘duh’, because I remembered that I had promised myself I would get it as soon as it was released.  It must have been at the back of my mind when I made this dress because they are pretty similar, and unfortunately I’m not sure now if I can justify getting the new pattern.  I don’t need it, but would it be wrong to get Coco so I can do a proper comparison?

I used a leopard print knit from Minerva Crafts. I spent a few hours on their website at the beginning of the year ordering way more fabric than I should have and could have bought so much more. If it wasn’t for lack of time I would be hassling them every day to let me be in their bloggers network.

Not much to say about construction that I haven’t already said here, and here.  I made the skirt a little more A line, bound the neck with black bias binding and added patch pockets, which caused much swearing because the edges wouldn’t press under, but I got there eventually.  Eventually I managed to finish it in about three hours and have barely taken it off since.

photo 2 (4)photo 4 (3)

photo 3Over half term I bribed my daughter to take photos in exchange for chips on the beach, which was a win win situation because who doesn’t love chips on the beach?

photo 1

Almost the Ultimate Wrap Dress – attempt no. 1

P1220517I have been wanting to make a decent, well fitting wrap dress forever. I love the idea in principle and I used to own a couple of RTW ones that were okay but it is a tricky garment to get right.  Maybe it’s just my body shape, but I have struggled to find one that doesn’t flap open or gape, and at my age there is only so much cleavage or thigh that you can expose without looking like mutton dressed as lamb.

When I saw the Sew Over It Ultimate Wrap Dress pattern I had to buy it. I mean, the Ultimate Wrap Dress – this had to be the answer.  It sewed up pretty quickly with no major problems, the cotton knit fabric came from eBay but I can’t find it on there now. However I am going to have to treat this one as a not quite wearable muslin for a number of reasons.

Firstly I don’t think the fabric does anything for me.  I am not a beige person. I was convinced there was more red in there but once I’d made it up it was predominantly this plastic doll skin colour that does not flatter me.  Actually the photos make it look better than it is in real life, which is a first.

Secondly the shoulders are too wide.  Easy to fix on my next attempt, but not worth doing on this one.

P1220514P1220504I think once I fix the shoulders the arms will be a better length, but at the moment they are too long. All I need to do on this dress is hem them shorter, but can I be bothered?

The ties and the hole to thread the ties through also need to be higher.  I’m not sure whether to just attach them higher (easy) or try and shorten the whole bodice part of the dress.  The bodice and skirt parts are all one piece so I would have get my head around where to shorten and what would need lengthening to compensate, and of course remember to do the back as well as the front.  Easy for most of you, I’m sure, but as someone who usually bodges the fitting stuff in favour of a quick fix it seems like a lot of work.  However I think it will sort out some of the gaping. And if I don’t sort out the gaping I will have a lot more of these moments:

P1220519P1220520And possibly get done for indecent exposure.

For the sake of decency I have put a couple of stitches in the front to keep it together, but now it pulls where the stitches are so it is not an ideal solution.  I’m going to have to do it properly, aren’t I.

The other issue I have with this pattern at the moment is the facings, which attach all the way around.  I think I made my feelings about facings pretty clear in my last post.  I’m not sure how I can make this pattern without them because of the way the ties are attached so I will need to find a way to stop them flopping out (yes, I do mean the facings) by stitching them down securely, as top stitching wasn’t enough.

I realise that all this makes it sound like I hate this pattern but I really don’t.  It was so easy to sew up and I don’t think it will be too difficult to get it to match the picture in my head. Anyway how many people actually fit a pattern straight out of the packet? That’s why we sew muslins first (or should do, I know).  Making this dress has still been a worthwhile experience. In fact now I know what I need to do I am determined to fix all the problems and make it again. I shall have my ultimate wrap dress, hopefully using this pattern. Unfortunately this particular version isn’t it.


Grrr! Just in time – Jungle January Dandelion

P1220449Grrrrr! I made a dress! I do love a bit of leopard so Jungle January is easily one of my favourite Sewalongs.   I made this a couple of weeks ago but  life has been hectic so I only just managed to get it blogged in time. Last year I made Gertie’s pencil skirt in stretch leopard denim-y stuff and it has become one of my wardrobe staples. This year I decided to step it up a level and make a whole dress. I don’t have time at the moment to perfect the fit on a new pattern so I decided to revisit the Disparate Disciplines Dandelion.

Okay, confession time. My other two Dandelions hardly get worn. I know why. Facings. I am finally going to admit that I bloody hate them. They stick up, poke out, lie wrong… I just can’t get on with them. Actually both my dandelions could be made wearable very easily by just hand stitching the facings down, and I must do it because I love the shape and otherwise they are perfect.  I wasn’t going to make the same mistake with this one though.  Remember how one of my plans for this year was to finish things properly?  Well I did it!  This is the first fully lined dress I have made in aeons.  I just cut one dress in fashion fabric, this gorgeous stretch cotton from Minerva, which I can no longer find on their site, and another dress in lining fabric then attached it at the neckline and sleeves, then top stitched to keep it in place.

Look, you can just see the pretty innards! None of the actual innards photos came out, and the dress is now in the wash (yes, it gets worn a lot) so you’ll have to take my word for it about how tidy and professional it looks.

IMG_3525Unfortunately I then made a really stupid mistake. The lining fabric, from my stash, frays like a bastard.  I pinked the seams, which with hindsight wasn’t the best way to tackle this, but I obviously cut too close to the stitching.  And when I tried it on this happened:

photo 1I have managed to bodge it by stitching a bit of black satin bias tape over the seam, but I will take more care next time, I promise.  Right, some more pics, because I want you to appreciate how much I love this dress:

P1220442P1220457P1220446And because there is no point in wearing a dress if you can’t eat custard tarts in it:


I have already worn it loads and I can see it becoming another wardrobe staple. Because animal print is a neutral, obviously, and therefore appropriate for any occasion.

Thank you Anne for another Jungle January. You can never have too much animal print.  In fact I am working on another leopard dress right now.

New year plans, sort of.


Well I have just about recovered from Christmas, New Year, Birthday, etc. and I did promise a New Year round up. It has been more difficult than I thought though. I have really struggled to come up with top five lists. Don’t get me wrong, 2013 was a damn good year for me in terms of sewing. Highlights included the meet ups, getting to know so many cool people ( you lot are the best) , me made may, making lots of lovely stuff that was actually wearable and got me compliments, and getting a dedicated sewing space.  My oldest daughter has also caught the bug and attends a sewing club at her school.  I wear most of the things I completed, which is good. However, while I had very few failures there is nothing I made that I would say has been a total success.

There are a few reasons for this.   Firstly I know that I should make more muslins, measure pattern pieces and also measure myself more regularly. Rochelle’s anti-round up post struck a chord with me. It also made me realise that I really should find a core of patterns that I have perfected the fit for and use them as the basis of a wearable wardrobe. I definitely get carried away with wanting to make cool stuff that I can show off and write about.  I find it so difficult to ignore all the gorgeous new patterns that are released and I really want to support independent pattern designers. However limited time and a short attention span means that I end up cutting corners and rushing. The urge to make all the lovely new stuff means that I steam ahead without considering whether I will wear things in real life. I neglect the fitting and finishing, resulting in garments that I love initially but that don’t necessarily feel ‘right’ when I am wearing them.    Most of my makes do look and feel home made. I just realised that I have been sewing for almost three years now so I can’t really use the excuse that I am a beginner any more. I need to put more effort into lining things, finishing seams, using the correct techniques instead of cutting corners – all the things that are easy to justify skipping but make me really proud of the end result.

UFOs. Maybe because of some of the things I have outlined above, I have a stupid amount of unfinished projects. I find it difficult to ignore new patterns and Sewalongs and will move on to a fun new project without properly completing current ones. I also have a load of things that I don’t wear because they need altering, because I rushed them in the first place.  They don’t need a lot doing to them to make them wearable but there are so many new fun things to make so I hang them in my wardrobe and pretend I’ll come back to them.

Another problem I have is that I seem to change size and shape quite a lot. What might be a perfect fit one month can be tight and restrictive or too baggy the next. I don’t do dieting. I try to eat healthily but I have noticed that my food and drink intake and activity levels fluctuate depending on what is going on at work. And don’t get me started on hormones and their effect on my body shape.  I’m not sure what the solution is. More knits?

So taking all this into account I have come up with some plans. I’m not going to call them resolutions because then I will get pissed off with myself if I don’t get round to doing them. So in 2014 I plan (but will not stress out if I don’t)  to do the following:

1. Get the fit right.
2. Finish stuff properly, line stuff and stop cutting corners.
3. Try really hard to avoid buying every new pattern and joining in every Sewalong. I am not making any promises on this one but I will try and consider whether it is something that I will actually wear and finish what I am working on at the time first.  I am considering doing something like Rochelle’s twelve pattern challenge  and there is no way I am not doing Jungle January
4. Complete or bin some of my UFOs. Some are beyond help, or are stuff that I will never wear so  instead of feeling guilty every time I see them I am just going to chuck them. As for the rest, I am going to set a target to complete at least one a month.
5. Keep sewing from the stash and give away what I will never use. My stash is getting a bit silly now so I need to be ruthless. I have more fabric and patterns than I will ever use. I am planning a giveaway and I am also hoping that somebody will (please?) organise another meetup and swap so I can pass it all on to people who will appreciate it.

I have a few other sort of resolutions that are not necessarily sewing related. I want to get better at using twitter instead of just lurking. I still feel a bit stupid using it, like I am going to do it wrong, and there is that nagging doubt that noone would want to hear what I think and it is only for cool people anyway. I want to read more, write more, get the hang of knitting, make underwear, figure out how to comment on blogs from my phone, get more exercise and sample more brands of gin (current bottle is this – the only gin distilled in Kent. I highly recommend it).  I am also hoping that 2014 will be the year that somebody finally offers to give me enough money to live on for doing stuff that I love doing and would do for for free anyway. Well I can dream…

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to me! Normal service will be resumed shortly…

PicMonkey Collage

Bugger!  Did 2013 finish already?

Today I am celebrating a significant birthday, and what with this, Christmas and New Year all within just over a week of each other I’m afraid I have been in no fit state to string a coherent sentence together, let alone attempt sewing.  When things calm down a bit I do want to do a belated round up of the year,  Gillian style, because I have really enjoyed reading everyone elses  (unfortunately my phone won’t let me comment on blogs at the moment but I am reading).  I have also been thinking about some plans for 2014. First however I have another bottle of bubbly to get through….

Anyway, Happy New Year to all of you, and thank you for helping to make 2013 such a great year.  I think that 2014 may well be even better and I hope it brings all of us everything we wish for.