Tag Archives: beach

Is my Nautical Emery Dolly Clackett enough?

photo 4 (2)Bloody Hell, why didn’t I just listen to all of you and make up my Christine Haynes Emery pattern as soon as I got it?  I am now cursing myself for all the time I wasted when I could have been making Emerys.

It took the Sew Dolly Clackett! challenge to finally persuade me to make it.   I’ve been short of time and sanity recently but this was one challenge I was not going to miss. I mean, sod the prizes.  You are offering me the chance to gratuitously copy any of Roisin’s dresses without looking like a stalker – of course I’m bloody doing it!

This is my first attempt, a tribute to her many nautical dresses.  For example this, this and of course this one from the same print as I am using, but in red.  It  had to be an Emery.  Roisin has made loads and I can totally see why.  This was supposed to be a wearable muslin so I didn’t actually expect to get a good fit but it is pretty bloody close straight out of the packet!  For me this is the holy grail of dress patterns – something that I can just cut out and sew, no faffing about, safe in the knowledge that it the fit will be good, if not perfect.  Okay, not quite, I had to take it in about an inch at the top centre back before I put the zipper in. A minor tweak though.  Apart from that this dress felt effortless to make and fits better than any other dress I have made.

photo 3 (2)I was a bit concerned about the fabric, even for a wearable muslin. It came from the stash and I’m not sure where I bought it but it feels kind of crispy.  I was worried that it wouldn’t hang right but actually it has just the right amount of body. I even managed to set the sleeves in with no puckers first time round.photo 5 (2)Lapped zipper, it could do with a press, and absolutely no attempt at pattern matching because I couldn’t be arsed.

photo 1 (2)Silly face.

photo 1Whitstable Brewery Bar, we did the photos outside.  If you ever get a chance try their Oyster Stout, do. They do it on draft but you can also buy it in bottles. I am bloody addicted to the stuff, it’s like a pint of cold dark chocolate in alcoholic form.  Okay, that probably doesn’t make it sound that nice but it really is delicious. Highly recommended if you get a chance to try it

photo 4One tanned leg.

My photographer gets bored easily:

photo 3

Anyway, back to the sewing.  Emery is everything that I hoped that Simplicity 2444 and Colette’s Peony would be.  I love both those patterns on other people but there were just too many fitting problems for me. Emery, however, captures the style I was after and is pretty much hassle free.  Because there are no fitting issues I can knock one together in a few hours, it doesn’t take stupid amounts of fabric, it is modest enough for work and I have loads more planned.  I bloody love it.

(and no apologies for the excessive use of ‘bloody’ in this post. Needs must…)

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

Simplicity 1610 maxi dress and a giveaway!

maxi dress dForgive me but it has been over a week since my last post. It was sunny, we had guests and the beers and suncream distracted me from the important job of recording my makes. But I have been sewing.

One of the things I discovered through doing Me Made May was that I need more me made maxi dresses. On sunny days there is nothing easier to wear than a long dress that you can chuck on over a swimming costume and wear about town then on to the beach.  So when Simplicity contacted me to see if I wanted to try a pattern I immediately checked out their long dresses.  I selected either Simplicity 1610, one of the Project Runway patterns, or 1612, a knit dress, and when the package arrived they had very generously sent me both, plus an extra pattern to do a giveaway!

With the temperature rising I couldn’t wait to get started.  I used an African  Wax Woodin print from Empire Textiles.   Six yards cost me £18.00 and although postage was a little pricey it arrived the day after I ordered it. I didn’t use all of it, I have about two and a half metres left, but more about that later.

Anyway, the pattern:

Like all the Project Runway patterns this one is modular, so you can choose from two different bodices, with or without sleeves and cummerbund and with a  long or short skirt. And it has pockets!    I’m looking forward to making up the version with the short skirt and sleeves, I think it has the potential to be as good as the famous 2444.  However with the sun shining I really, really needed that halter neck bodice and long skirt.

Looking at the pattern pieces I was a tiny bit worried.  There are quite a lot of them to start of with. There was no need to worry. Not all of the pieces were for this version (of course – duh).   And this is actually a pretty quick, simple make with some nice touches. I’m still not too good at technical talk but it has princess seams that made it really easy to fit.  You put a bit of elastic along the back on both sides on the seam allowance, which stops it gaping and holds it up a bit more,  and I love the way you make each pocket out of one piece that folds over to also form the yoke(?) of the skirt. I missed out the button loops at the top of the straps and used a pale turquoise button and button hole instead because I was in a hurry to finish before the sun went in and turning those pesky little tubes inside out would have taken too long.

IMG_2190And yes, those pink dots are actually sparkly! They look fabulous when they catch the sun. I lined the bodice with a mauve sheet and stitched up the front pieces to avoid any gaping cleavage incidents.


IMG_2193I’m afraid I shied away from pattern matching. I know I should’ve made the effort but I really needed this dress finished quickly in case the sun didn’t last -I know those of you living in the UK will understand.  And to be honest too much time looking closely at this print was making my face hurt.  Okay, that might have been the sun. Or the beers in the sun. And I can’t possibly tell you my husbands first comment when he saw the dress. Okay, I might if you ask but but I’m hoping he has a unique way of looking at things and nobody else will see what he saw….

After my last zip disaster I intended to move it to the side but I got into the zone and totally forgot until I had already sewn in the lining so I did a lapped zipper on my machine and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. It’s a damned sight better than my last one anyway.

maxi dress eI persuaded the husband to take pictures in the garden. Then when he made me look like an Oompa Loompa I bribed my eldest daughter.

maxi dress cmaxi dress amaxi dress bmaxi dress fAs far as wearability goes this one has passed all the tests. It held up to a day on the beach which ended up as a barbecue and evening drinks. I started out with it over my halter neck bikini then later wore it with my detachable strapped bra with one strap on halter style, because my days of going bra-less are long behind me. As my boobs would be if I did try. There was no gaping or falling down, the bra remained hidden and the print means that any ketchup, beer or suncream stains just blend in.  Result.  I will definitely be making this again in this length and I also want to make the shorter skirt version so watch this space.

Anyway, did someone mention a giveaway?  As well as the two maxi dress patterns Simplicity also sent me a copy of this:

I absolutely love the little scalloped collar on the green one, and the bow on the blue one. If you want to see it in the wild Gertie has just made them both up here and here, and she’s also done a little tutorial on how to do the collar.   And as I love you all so much I’m also going to throw in the remaining two and a half-ish metres of the African Wax print I used for my maxi dress.

To enter leave me a comment below, I’ll give you until midnight next Monday the 22nd July and I’m happy to send it overseas. Good luck!

Hawthorn and Hutstock – a perfect summer’s dress for a perfect summer’s day.

IMG_2180Yes, that is Mr T. and I grinning like a loons after too much cider in the sun while our children went feral yesterday at Hutstock,  Whitstable’s Premier beach hut based music festival.  One of the many reasons why I love living here. But ignore the freakish expressions for a second and check out the dress. You may recognise the fabric. I got it at the Birmingham swap, donated by Stitching Odyssey Marie and I promised her I would put it to good use.


When Colette released the Hawthorn pattern it was love at first sight. I downloaded it immediately and decided to make up the peplum blouse using Marie’s bathing ladies fabric.  However when I pinned out the pattern pieces I realised that if I took an inch either side off the width of the skirt I actually had enough fabric for the sleeveless dress. The instructions say you need about 2 3/4 yards of fabric but I think the piece I had was about two metres.  I cut a size zero at the shoulders, grading out to a four at the bust and a ten at the waist and hips.

This was a surprisingly quick and simple make.  The dress came together so easily it was unreal. I was a bit wary of the collar and all those button holes but there were no issues at all. This version without the sleeves would definitely be accessible to a beginner, and if I had an unbroken stretch of time I could knock one together in three or four hours. As it was it took me a week of evenings. I did intend to follow along with the Sewalong but I got impatient to finish.  The fit is pretty good too. I did take it in a bit more at the side seams for a closer fit, but apart from that I made no adjustments. I like how it is a slightly looser fit but still follows the shape of your body, making it perfect for warm summer days when you don’t want to wear something that feels too fitted but still want to look like you have made a bit of an effort.  And I think Colette may be paying attention because for the first time with one of their patterns I didn’t lower the bust dart and it still hits in exactly the right place.

The dress isn’t really shown at it’s best in the rest of my Hutstock photos  (and nor am I 🙂 ) so I took some extra pics this morning.  P1210693P1210685P1210679P1210709

Oh go on then, a quick dance…..P1210696As you can see I am a bit tired after yesterday’s festivities.

I also tried it with my big fluffy petticoat thing underneath, for a bit of a fifties vibe.


P1210643I quite like how it looks and I think maybe I should have worn it like this for Hutstock – the extra layers of petticoat might have provided a bit more padding, I woke up with incredibly bruised buttocks from sitting on the stones.

P1210662Of course youngest child wasn’t about to be left out…

Not much more to say except how much I absolutely fecking love this dress.  It really is perfect for summer.  And other people thought so too. I have never had so many complete strangers coming up to me and complimenting me on my dress or asking where I got it. And not just at the festival, where people had, lets just say less inhibitions.  I was even approached in the supermarket and when walking down the high street.  It is a definite win and I have more planned.
So finally, for those of you not lucky enough to know Whitstable, a couple more shots of what you missed…



My Miette, and more twunting about on the beach…


It’s about time I blogged the skirt that I wore to the Brummie Meet up.  It is Miette, Tilly’s second pattern and it has been in my ‘to make’ queue for a long time, ever since I saw Marie’s gorgeous versions, as well as all the ones in Tilly’s makers gallery.  It took a while to find the right fabric so when I saw this embroidered denim in my local fabric shop a couple of weeks ago I persuaded myself I had to have it.  It has anchors! As you know I am a sucker for anything nautical and ended up paying a bit more than I usually would, but this turned out to be a good thing because it meant that I took a bit more care over this skirt.

Making Miette also coincided with the discovery of this little gadget in the box of bits that came with my second hand Bernina:


I believe it is supposed to be a blindstitch foot but it doesn’t half make topstitching easier.  Actually I got a bit carried away and top stitched almost everything – ignore the hole for the tie, it looks a bit crap close up but it’s not noticeable when worn.  I added ric rac because I could:


And check out these seam finishes:


Bloody gorgeous!

There is very little to add about the construction that hasn’t already been said. I did consult Tilly’s detailed photo instructions but even without them this skirt is piece of pish to put together.  No fastenings to faff about with, I think the most time consuming part was turning the ties right way out.  I would wholeheartedly recommend this to any beginners or a more experienced sewist looking for a quick satisying project.

So that’s the construction, but how does it stand up to being worn?  I was a bit concerned about the wrapping over. Would it stay wrapped, especially on a windy English beach?  I did not fancy prancing about in public thinking I look great only to find out that I had been flashing my kegs at all and sundry.  Well there was only one way to find out, and fingers crossed there weren’t too many people around to witness my twunting about with a camera and any possible wardrobe malfunctions.

As well as my camera and gorilla pod I also armed myself with Rachel House of Pinheiro’s top tips on posing.  This is me completely ignoring her advice to breathe. Note the slightly constipated expression.


….and exhale


From behind, with legs facing to the side to slim my torso.  But not my arse, apparently…


See, nothing to see here, folks.  I don’t seem to be flashing anyone yet, but there is only one way to really test it….


Ooops! I appear to have dropped something!

Conclusive proof that this garment is completely safe.  Despite being a wrap skirt you cannot see my buttocks even when bending over. (And I’m really looking forward to seeing the search terms that come up on my stats now 🙂 )


Time for a rest, and another of Rachel’s tips – position the slimmest or smallest parts of your body closer to the camera and the larger parts further away. My feet are very small, size three and a half, while my head is disproportionately large. But from this picture you would never guess.

So there you have it, my Miette Skirt. I love it. It has anchors, huge pockets, ric rac and no complicated fastenings. It held up well on the beach, kept me going through a drenching and a fabric scrum in Brum and has been worn quite a few times since then. And I also survived the photo shoot.  Thank you Rachel for your wonderful tips, I totally recommend them to all of you, especially if you make a bit more effort with them than I did.  I had a laugh but I think it may take a bit more work before I manage to look as gorgeous as Rachel does in photos.

Me Made May, and Sunshine!!!!


This is a long overdue post. I have decided to put all my Me Made May pictures on a separate page – here – because it made more sense to me. I will try and post a picture for each day with comments on the outfits and/or thoughts and observations. So far, well some days it has been tough. However, on Monday, sitting on the beach with my girls in the glorious sunshine people watching and feeling a bit smug that I live here but they all have to drive home I realised that not only was I wearing clothes that I had made but so were my girls!








Youngest child is telling the man sharing our table that he smells of ham. Oldest child is having a diva like strop because I brought the wrong swimming costume.

This does not happen often. The clothes thing, I mean – My oldest has always very dramatic (but we love her) and my youngest often tells people they smell of ham. Or peanuts.  Nothing to do with me, I usually pretend she’s not mine when she’s doing it.  Anyway I mostly sew for myself but my original plan when I bought my first sewing machine was to make clothes for the family, to try and save cash and go a bit green. The yellow dress the little one is wearing was made for my oldest when I first started sewing two years ago, from a free Burdastyle pattern that I can no longer find on their site. It has unfinished seams and very dodgy top stitching and does look a bit crap on close inspection but they both love it. The skirt my oldest is wearing was made on one of the rare occasions when I gave in to emotional blackmail and sewed with her. It is just a rectangle with elastic through the top but she chooses to wear it so she must like it.


I was wearing my ‘last days of summer’ maxi dress for the second time in three days.  Which brings me to what I have learned so far from doing Me Made May.

1. I need more me-made knit maxi dresses. They are the most practical item of clothing for the beach when it is warm.  No flashing your pants (knickers) when it’s a bit breezy or you are bending down to pick stuff up, make sandcastles and play with the kids (although the next one I make will hopefully show a little less boobage). You can pull a knit maxi over your swimming costume or get changed into and out of one without exposing yourself too much (I’m seeing a common theme here). And it’s even better if it’s made from a nasty synthetic fabric because it will dry in the sun in minutes. I have quite a few maxi dresses but only one me-made. I need more.
2. I  also need more T-Shirts and vest tops/ tanks. Preferably knit, I have already downloaded Dixi DIY’s summer concert tee  so I need to sit down and figure out what is going on with my overlocker.  Although I have also got my eye on some patterns for wovens – the Grainline scout woven tee, and the new Megan Nielsen Eucalypt tank for example. And Victory patterns Simone. And the Salme gathered top.
3. I really do need some better fitting bras. This feels like an eternal quest,  so I may just bite the bullet and try and make them myself.
4. I look like crap after a full day at work. I know it’s all about the clothes, not me, but still… I need to get up earlier and use my auto timer rather than bribing my daughter to snap a quick pic on my i phone when I get in.

So that’s it – ten days in I have managed something me-made or refashioned every day and learned a few things already. My pledge was six days a week so I’m pretty chuffed. Let’s just see if I can keep it up….

Nautical Cambie, and feeling a twunt in public

P1210185 - Copy

The sun was shining, it is Me Made May and today was just screaming out for something girlie.  Something nautical. Something that was still sitting in my UFO pile waiting for a zip and a hem.

No worries, I don’t work Fridays and as my body clock hasn’t quite caught on to this I was up at five thirty hand picking a lapped zip before the school run. I machined a narrow hem as I was running out of time and annoyingly ‘Sorry, I had to finish making my clothes before I could leave the house’ is not considered an acceptable excuse for lateness at my daughter’s school.

I started this dress before I went away at Easter,  Cambie, by Sewaholic, of course. My first. I got the fabric on sale at Minerva Crafts and I think I got the last of it. Anyway I nearly finished but ran out of time and I’m afraid I can’t remember what size I traced but I did my usual small at the shoulders, going up a size at the bust and up another for the waist and hips.  Hundreds have said it before but this pattern is an absolute breeze to sew. And I love it!  The only adjustments I did were to lower the back, because I like a low back. If I was to make this again I would probably make the straps a little shorter. Oh, and I didn’t use the pattern pieces for the full skirt, I just cut rectangles.

Buoyed by my success in completing it and realising that I love love love this dress more than I can put into words I decided it was time to bite the bullet and take it outside for some pictures. I stuffed my gorillapod and my camera into a bag and headed for the beach.

I had a conversation with Katy of a Sleek Silhouette about photography at the meet up. We were both wondering a) how other bloggers manage to get decent pictures of themselves with no one else to take them?  b) how to do it without looking like some weird self obsessed freak? and c) how you manage to do it without feeling like a complete arse?  I notice that Katy has clearly managed to overcome at least some of those problems as she has done a great photo shoot outside for her latest stunning make.

As you can see from my efforts I have succeeded in overcoming exactly….none of those problems.  I gave it a shot though:

P1210183 - CopyCamera, what camera? No, I’m just walking on the beach (and waiting for you all to feck off and stop staring) …
P1210186 - CopyOh, that camera. Who put that there?
P1210180 - CopyIf I stand here and put the camera really close then maybe no-one will notice me…
P1210191 - CopyRight, they’ve gone, quick! Smile….
P1210202Nautical – that means boats. Look, a boat! I’ll stand by it. Please don’t look at me like that Mr Dog Walker, you’re making this really difficult….
P1210206And the back….
P1210207And the side….Can I go now?

To say that I wasn’t very comfortable with this photography lark is an understatement. It did get easier though. I will persevere. I also took a couple of shots indoors as the sun was so bright it is quite hard to see the actual dress in some of those pics. Note how by this point most of my make up has slid off and I am looking decidedly windswept. I have also stopped caring.





The zip doesn’t actually show when I am standing normally but it looks crap here, especially at the waistband. I think my hands on my hips made it pull apart. And I had no idea my feet were that grubby – sorry.

Oh well, No Fear No Shame – I have felt a Twunt and done it anyway. That deserves a treat or two.