Double Denim Smock

I think I mentioned a while back that I have been having a go at designing some of my own patterns. I attended a pattern cutting class at the London College of Fashion last year and on returning home drafted my own block with the help of a very useful pattern cutting book (Your Pattern Cutting by E.Sheila MacEwan).

Since then I have designed a few trial patterns, some of which are still in progress. I made this dress a few months ago and it was one of the first patterns I drafted.

Denim Smock Dress Pockets

Denim Smock Dress Back

The dress is very simple, so was an easy first design project. I got my inspiration from a RTW smock I owned for years, which recently wore out at the armpits and was unfortunately too far gone to repair.

I love oversized relaxed garments that are comfortable to wear lounging around the house, but still look reasonably smart for wearing out in public, so that was what I was aiming for.

The first version of this didn’t have the contrasting neckline piece. It was far lower cut and the neckline was finished with bias binding, but it wasn’t working as the neckline was a tad too low. I left it in a drawer for a couple of months and then the other day ripped back the neckline and finished it with this contrasting denim neckline insert, raising the neckline back up to a more modest level and adding an interesting design feature. I am really pleased with it now and think it’s far more wearable like this.

I think I will get a lot of wear out of this. It feels so exciting to make your own designs, I really love the process and it’s great to have creative control over what you wear.

Aaron and I took the photos this morning down at the Lodberries in Lerwick. It was a beautiful but breezy day so not the easiest weather to try and photograph a floaty dress, but we got a few good snaps.


Happy Sunday!

Bye Bye Birdie Vintage Pledge Dress 2016

This year I signed up to the Vintage Pledge challenge for the second time. Last year I pledged to try my first vintage pattern and this is what I made. I really enjoyed the challenge and loved the resulting dress, so thought I would give it another go this year.

My pledge for 2016 was to try and sew at least 3 of the vintage patterns in my stash.

The first I have chosen to make is this pattern:


which if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me mention a few times.

This was kind of an odd choice for me as I am not a fan of 80’s fashion and if I’m honest I didn’t immediately like the style, but something about it grew on me and looking past the shoulder pads I could see potential.

I thought that the shape of view B was quite minimalistic and modern looking and chose a fabric with a modern feel to reflect this. I bought the black Bye Bye Birdie Atelier Brunette fabric from Sew Over It’s online store. I have used Atelier Brunette fabric before here and the quality is sublime, I am a big fan.

I found the construction of this dress really odd, particularly the collar construction. I am used to assembling the collar separately, topstitching and then sewing it between the facing and the dress, but in these instructions you sort of attached it piece by piece, first sewing the undercollar to the neck edge of the bodice, then the top collar to the facing and finally sewing the top collar and facing piece to the undercollar and bodice piece. The topstitiching was done after, and personally I found this method confusing, however I got there and to be honest I don’t think the method was bad, I think it was just the fact that it was new to me that threw me a bit.

The other thing I have to remark upon is the really odd zip placement. The top is very loose fitting and kind of boxy, and the zip is placed 1/4 of the way down the bodice through the waist and into the skirt. I found my zip stuck out oddly at the middle of my back where there was excess fabric. I ended up having to remove the long zip and just insert a 9 inch zip into the C.B. of the skirt starting at the waistline and this seems to suffice as the top is so loose fitting I can pull it over my head fairly easily. I am not sure if this was an oversight in the drafting or whether I added too much fabric when I made my lengthening modifications for my height (adding 5cm to the length of top and skirt). It may have been worth removing the excess fabric from the back, but I liked the look of it, so I kept it in and changed the zip position, as mentioned, to overcome this.

Another thing to mention is I left off the belt as I didn’t feel it was required and I added a snap fastener to the inside of the lapel to hold everything in place.

Here is my version of the dress

Vintage Pledge Dress 2016 Bye Bye Birdie Fabric

Vintage Pledge 2016

Vintage Pledge Dress atelier brunetteI am actually quite shocked by how much I love this. I really didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. I think this is one of my favourite makes to date and I love the style! I might be a fan of 80’s fashion after all.

I originally tried to take photos at the very scenic Noss Sound, but it was freezing, windy and started to snow, so we abandoned the mission and took some photos before Sunday dinner at my parents house instead. I left a couple of the Noss sound shots in as even though they weren’t the best images to show the detail of the dress, they sort of act as action shots….

Denim Elisalex Dress


I made the Elisalex dress last week, and if you follow me on Instagram you might have seen me post about it yesterday

Denim Elisalex Dress

I managed to persuade my boyfriend to take these photos for me at lunchtime, so happily I can blog about this sooner than I expected. It really is tough taking decent photos during these winter months, I cannot wait for spring!

I have been meaning to try a By Hand London Pattern for ages. I love their aesthetic and they have such a brilliant collection of dress patterns I found it so hard to choose between them. It was between this and the Kim dress, the Elisalex won, but I still want both :).

I bought both the pattern and fabric from Backstitch . I’m a massive fan of backstitch, the quality is always spot on and delivery is super speedy. Here’s a link to the fabric used. This is actually the wrong side of the fabric, the right side was slightly darker, but I preferred the lighter colour as it was more of a grey tone, rather than denim blue. Although it looks quite blue in the pics it’s actually a light grey colour.

Denim Elisalex Dress

I lined it with a black poly lining as it was all I had in my fabric stash, thankfully it was a good colour combo, I love dresses with a contrasting lining fabric.

Construction was fairly straightforward. Winged princess seams are so beautiful and luckily I’ve been practicing them a lot lately as I have been experimenting with drafting different bodice styles using my block.

The fit is okay…unfortunately I was a bit lazy and ignored my usually required modifications, being 5’11” means patterns aren’t often drafted for a woman of my stature. I would usually always lengthen the bodice, sometimes the skirt and often require a full bust adjustment (FBA). I did make a toile and thought I could get away with no adjustments if I just sewed the shoulder and waist seams with a smaller seam allowance (0.5cm) to add a bit of extra length (2cm) to my bodice. However this “cheat” method didn’t quite work out. I think I could have lengthened the bodice more as the waist is sitting slightly higher than my natural waist. With regard to the FBA I think I should have done one, as I can see some slight drag lines around my armpits in these photos. It was a bit silly of me really, I think I have learned my lesson though and will be sure to make all those adjustments if I make this pattern again.

Enough moaning about fitting errors! I’m not going to pick this make apart as I still really like it and I think I will get a lot of wear out of it. The bodice style is really flattering, I love the neckline. At first I thought the volume of the skirt might be unflattering as I am slightly pear shaped, but having tried it on I think it’s lovely and it makes the dress feel more formal. I took 10cm off the length of the skirt as the longer length wasn’t flattering on me.

Overall I’m calling it a hit!

It’s funny, I don’t know how many of you have read the blog post about ablogogising by Did You Make That?, but I did and am now so aware of how negative I can be about my makes. I am therefore going to strive to be more positive in future, although I suppose it’s good to be a bit critical of yourself sometimes in order to improve.

Denim Elisalex Dress

Denim Elisalex Dress

Denim Elisalex Dress

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Another Ultimate Shift Dress and Sewing with Knit Fabric


I’ve got the sewing bug again.

 After the velvet ordeal, I needed a break from my sewing table, but I am feeling inspired again and ready for some new projects.

I’m not one for counting down till christmas, but as the nights are drawing in and it’s starting to feel pretty wintery up here in Shetland, I felt the need to make a cosy winter dress.

The inspiration for this make came from a post I spotted on twitter a while back, Elena from ( had tweeted about her lovely knit fabric “Ultimate Shift Dress” by Sew Over It and it looked so fabulous, I thought I’d make my own.

The fabric I used was a gorgeous red ponte de roma, funnily enough, from Sew Over It (must have been meant to be).

You may remember I made this dress before for my trip to India in a light cotton lawn. It was a relatively easy make and I was really pleased with the fit. Although this pattern is designed for woven fabrics, it is quite a simple shape, so I think it lends itself well to either fabric type.

It may just be me, but I really struggle with knit fabric on my machine. I have spent endless ages trying to figure out why my machine misses stitches when sewing knit fabric. I have tried: changing tension settings, different needles (ball point, stretch), sewing at different speeds, but nothing completely solves the problem.

My latest discovery to aid sewing knits on a standard sewing machine is to place a layer of tracing paper or greaseproof paper under the fabric to stabilise it during sewing. When stitching is complete, rip it off. 

This has partially fixed my problem, but I still see some skipped stitches and ripping the paper off can pull the stitches, leaving them looking loose and unsightly, especially annoying when topstitching.

I ended up using a combination of my old sewing machine, my overlocker and hand sewing to finish this garment.

Below is a brief overview of the process:

  • sewed the darts with a straight stitch on the machine (I think you are supposed to use a zig zag stitch, but they look fine)
  • stabilised the shoulder seams with a thin ribbon and sewed with a zig zag stitch on the machine
  • overlocked the side seams and sleeves together
  • set in sleeves creating a couple of very small tucks on either side of the shoulder notch, to account for the excess fabric in sleeve head (gathering as with woven fabric didn’t really work)
  • turned neckline under 1cm and topstitched with a zigzag stitch
  • hemmed the dress and sleeves by hand using a hemming stitch
  • Added a hook and eye closure to the back neckline

I love the finished product, super cosy and flattering. I think I have a bit of an obsession with sewing dresses in knit fabric now…

Also, if anyone has any tips on sewing with knit fabric on a regular sewing machine I would love to hear them.

Handmade Red Dress

Red Jersey Dress side

Red Jersey Dress

Handmade dress

Velvet Bridesmaid Dress


It’s been ages, so let me explain why. Firstly I was down in London doing an intensive pattern cutting course for most of August (I will tell you more about that soon) and secondly, I have been working on a special project for a while now…

I spent the last few months making a bridesmaid dress for a friend’s wedding. It was a challenging project for me as it was the first time I have made something to fit someone other than myself, the fabric was velvet (enough said) and it was for a wedding, so obviously the pressure was on.

The pattern I used was the Lilou dress from ‘Love at First Stitch’ by Tilly and the Buttons. I had already made this dress twice, here and here, so I was confident with the contruction.

This was the first time I had to fit a garment to someone else, and it was great to learn new fitting techniques. I made two toiles using floral cotton. The first I made using a straight size closest to Marjolein’s measurements.

When she tried on the first toile, she felt the waist was sitting slightly low, so I removed 1cm from the length of the bodice. The overall fit was good, but there was significant pooling of fabric at the back, which I felt indicated she may have a sway back? This amused Marjolein no end (“I have a what back?”). I pinched out the excess which was approximately 5cm, and did a sway back adjustment on the back bodice pattern piece.

The second toile (see below) with these new adjustments fit well, so I got on and made the final dress.

I have to say when I first saw the velvet I was besotted. It’s probably the most beautiful fabric I have ever worked with. The way it reflects light and drapes is divine. However, I quickly realised it was also going to be the most tricky fabric I had ever worked with.

Red Velvet

Now I know everyone says velvet is a nightmare, but man, I had no idea how much of a nightmare.

Have you ever tried to cut the stuff? I will admit i was terrified, I researched loads before I started this make as I was concious of only having one piece of fabric to work with and therefore, no room for error.

The main things I learned through my “working with velvet” research are as follows:

1. Never ever iron velvet, just don’t even go there (I used steam and my fingers to press seams and remove creases)
2. Tack every seam to prevent slipping or movement of fabric during sewing (I mainly did two rows for extra stability)
3. Normal machine needles work fine for woven backed velvet
4. Silk or cotton thread would give best results, but polyester is also okay (i used cotton thread with good results)
5. Velvet has nap, so make sure all pattern pieces are the same direction

The main resource I used was this By Hand London post, and I also picked the brains of some very knowledgable sewing pals who gave me some excellent guidance.

Cutting the fabric was dreadful, it moved all over the place, as though it were liquid. I didn’t cut my pattern pieces on the fold because I was worried it would be difficult to achieve a symmetrical result .

As an alternative to ironing, I hung the fabric up for a day before cutting to let gravity remove some of the creases.

I layed the fabric out wrong side up and traced around  the pattern pieces using my wonderful chalk roller pen and used a rotary cutter to cut for accuracy. I used pins to mark out the direction of the nap on the fabric before flipping it over to make sure I cut all the pieces in the right direction. I cut all my pattern pieces with the nap going from top to bottom (i.e. from shoulder to hem).

When it came to sewing it up, as I mentioned above, tacking really was critical and I did tack every seam by hand before stitching the seams, darts etc.

I found that for sewing on the machine (which I did for the darts and the longer seams) using a lower tension and slightly longer stitch length worked best. The needle left visible marks in the velvet, so ripping out mistakes wasn’t really an option. I took my time over each step to make sure I didn’t make too many mistakes.

When it came to choosing a method for finishing the seam allowances, I tried a scrap of velvet on my overlocker as a test, but thought it looked messy and in the end decided to pink the seam allowances. This worked well, it looked neater than overlocking and as the bodice was lined, most of the seams were hidden anyway.

I used a lovely floral cotton lawn for the lining from Sew Over It, which worked well.

Sewing Velvet

The skirt was gathered, so I drew out the rectangles for the skirt pattern pieces with a width twice that of the waist. I wanted a good amount of gathers, without too much bulk. I wasn’t confident about how much extra fabric to add for gathering and in an ideal world I would have done a trial run to see how it looked, but had to make an educated guess and luckily the width I chose worked well and it wasn’t too bulky, as I had feared.

The zip insertion was by far the worst part of the process. The thing would not lie flat. I spent so long tacking it in and ripping it back out (luckily tacking by hand didn’t leave marks like the machine stitches) until eventually I was happy with how it looked.

I left the dress to hang over night to let the hem drop, levelled it, pinked it and turned it up to give a 3cm hem depth and used a hemming stitch to hand sew it up.

Velvet Hem

I ended up sewing quite a lot of this dress by hand, and although it was time consuming, I felt I had more control sewing by hand than I did on the machine, so I think it was worth it in the end.

So here’s the finished product …


Photo taken by Mike Guest

I am so pleased with how it turned out, especially after putting so much effort into this project. The velvet meant everything took so much longer than with a regular fabric, but it was worth it.

It was a joy to see Marjolein wearing it on the wedding day. I felt honoured to have contributed to Floortje and Tim’s special day.

Phew! Velvet is tough! Cotton for the next project I think 🙂

Vintage Pledge Dress

Back in March I signed up to the Vintage Sewing Pattern Pledge challenge. My goal was to try my first vintage sewing pattern in 2015.

Joan Holloway style dress

I chose this pattern as it was classic, but the triangular cut outs gave it a modern feel. I selected a simple black linen/cotton mix as I felt any design on the fabric might look cluttered with the cut-outs, and I really wanted them to stand out. I was aiming for a classic little black dress, to wear to formal events. I decided to omit the sleeves, as I felt it would look more modern without them.

Vintage Pledge Dress 2015 (

Vintage Pledge Dress 2015 (

Sewing Vintage Dress Shetland.attieanddora

Back Darts Vintage Dress Shetland attieanddora


This was my first move away from Indie sewing patterns and it was a real eye opener. Indie sewing patterns really hold your hand through the process (which is great for those inexperienced seamstresses among us), but in the instructions for this vintage pattern a lot of knowledge was assumed.

DSC01744 (1)I found I was able to bumble my way through using the skills I have already acquired from my past projects, which was encouraging.

The neckline construction with the triangular cut outs was a little tricky, it involved sewing a facing to the bodice, stitching along the lines, to give the triangular shapes, slashing between the stitching and then turning the facing to the inside and pressing. This was a bit fiddly, but gave a good result. The neck bands were then sewn to the top edge of the facing.

Besides challenging myself to try my first vintage pattern the other main focus of this project for me was to build my skills in fitting. I am tall, so I always have to add length to my pattern pieces. In this case I added two inches to the length of the bodice and two inches to the skirt length. I did a FBA, as I often find dress patterns which fit me in the waist and hips, are slightly small in the bust. I made a full toile of the dress to check my alterations.

Despite taking care to make a toile and check the fit along the way, my first attempt at this dress just wasn’t right. I had spent ages working on it, which was really disheartening. Unfortunately the bodice was too loose on the shoulders and bust, and the zip was buckling on the side. I haven’t included any pictures in this blog post, as it was too painful.

To remedy this, I had to do some major reconstruction. I unpicked the bodice from the skirt and removed the additional length previously added to the bodice, bringing it back to the original length. I unpicked the zip (sob, it was perfectly inserted) and moved it down the side seam by another 2 inches to eliminate the buckling.

These alterations fixed most of my fitting issues (WOOHOO). There are still some small gripes I have with the fit of the final dress. I think the bodice is still a bit too big, it would probably have been best to go a size down or to redo the FBA to add less fabric across the bust, but overall I am pleased with the dress and it’s such a relief to have overcome my fitting issues, and finished with something wearable that I am really proud of.

Signing up to the vintage sewing pattern pledge has been a great experience for me. It has pushed me out of my indie pattern comfort zone and opened up a world of possibilities for new sewing projects. I can’t wait to try another!

Pattern: Simplicity 3285 Slenderette

Fabric- Black Promenade Plain Linen & Cotton Blend Dress Fabric from Minerva Crafts

Grey Funnel Neck Coco

Just a quick one today. I wasn’t planning to blog this make, but I love it so much I had to show you. This is my third Coco (pattern by Tilly and the Buttons), you may have seen my first already here. My second (unblogged) was a grey and burgundy striped version with the same boat neckline.

This time I went for the sixties funnel neck style and kept it simple with a lovely dark grey ponte knit fabric from Backstitch.

Grey Coco Dress

Gold Converse

Grey Coco Dress

I am really happy with the result, a versatile addition to my handmade wardrobe.

Update// The Vintage Pledge Pattern Project is well underway, so I should be blogging about that soon. Can’t wait to show you what I’ve been working on.

Contrast Lilou

Lilou dress contrast lining There is a project queue forming in my sewing room this month. I have so many plans for sewing projects waiting for me to find time to sew them up. As you may know, one of these is my vintage pledge pattern. The contrast Lilou idea was conceived as an ‘in the mean-time’ project, while waiting for the vintage pledge pattern’s fabric to arrive. I thought it would be a quick make, as I had already used this pattern before here.  Alas, I decided to try a different size, with different modifications and due to the see-through nature of the mint green polka dot fabric, decided to line the entire dress in a contrasting red lining material. Needless to say, this project became far more labour intensive than originally anticipated and therefore put the vintage pledge project on hold. Whoops.

Oh well. In short, I am really happy with how this project turned out. I like the style of the dress, it has a vintage, sort of ballerina feel to it in this fabric. There are still some issues with fit. I made it a size smaller than my last attempt, and increased the bodice length by 2 inches. Mostly the fit is good, but it is slightly tight under my armpits. The size up from this was far too big in the bodice before I altered it, so I think for my next attempt I will stick with the smaller size, but try and do a full bust adjustment. I am really starting to appreciate the art of fitting. I have a lot to learn.

Polka dot Lilou dressLilou dress

I followed Tilly’s excellent instructions again for construction and was really chuffed by how much easier I found the process second time around. My sewing skills have definitely improved since my first Lilou. I used my new Bernina overlocker to finish some of the seams and it was so exciting to try it out on a project and see what it can do.

Finally, a little off topic, but thought I would share a picture with you of the newest addition to the croft this week. Our first Lamb of the season. Happy Sunday everyone.

Shetland Lamb

Pattern: Lilou Dress- Love at First Stitch by Tilly and the Buttons

Fabric- Mint Spot Cotton Lawn from Backstitch

An Alder on the Croft

It is a glorious weekend. The sun has come out after a spell of horrible weather and it finally feels like spring is coming. Here is my finished Alder shirt dress by Grainline Studio. I made view A using fabric from Backstitch, Klona cotton in Ash. I originally increased the length of the dress by 2 inches, but I managed to get all the way to hemming before realising I had forgotten to adjust the length of the button band to fit with my alteration. As it was all sewn in and the collar was already attached I couldn’t adjust it and had to cut the additional 2 inches off the dress length….woops. Thankfully, I think the length turned out fine. Alder Dress 1 Alder Dress 3 Alder dress 4 Other than that the project went rather smoothly, with the help of the excellent Alder sew along. The only bit I struggled with was enclosing the end of the collar stand. I just couldn’t get my head around it at first, but after a lot of messing around and re-reading of the instructions, it finally clicked. Alder 5

Alder 4

This was my first shirt type garment, so I learnt a lot from this project. I found it really enjoyable to sew, turns out I really enjoy topstitching. In hindsight, the fabric choice maybe wasn’t quite right for this garment. It is a bit stiff for this style, it creases easily and doesn’t have much of a drape. I don’t think it helped that I went one size up for a more relaxed feel, possibly if it was more fitted, the fabric would have been fine. Next time I will try this dress in a cotton lawn or maybe even silk if I’m feeling adventurous. Alder Dress 7

An Ultimate Shift Dress for India






I recently travelled to India and struggled to find suitable clothing to pack from my wardrobe, which is suited to cold Shetland winters.

The look I was going for was, simple tunic tops with leggings and The Ultimate Shift Dress pattern from Sew Over It, proved the perfect pattern for the job.

I bought some lightweight cotton from the online Sew Over It fabric shop and set to work. The construction was simple and the fabric, easy to work with. The instructions were great, and easy to follow. The only change I made was to omit the facing, as I was running out of time to finish before the trip (actually finished about 5 minutes before I left for the plane). Instead of the facing I simply folded the raw neckline in on itself like a double folded hem and stitched in place. It seemed to work reasonably well, but next time I would include the facing for a neater finish.

I’m really happy with how it turned out and I love the fabric. The only downside is that the cotton creases easily, as you might have noticed in some of the photos.

This dress survived over 2 months in India and is still going strong. It proved an excellent dress for summer and I’m still wearing it now in the winter with big cardigans and opaque tights, definitely a versatile garment.