How I got on with Sew My Stash September

Right! Let’s wrap up Sew My Stash September with a review! I thought about doing charts, but started messing around on Canva instead, so here’s an infographic of stats.

Round up infographic.jpg

In addition to shifting a shedload of fabric, I learned a few things about myself and my sewing habits:

  • Cutting out your projects for the month might be tedious, but it’s worth it. I even did all my interfacing at the same time! It was great to just be able to reach for fabric that was all cut and ready to go, and it kept me focused, too. Seeing the pile slowly disappear over the month was a good motivator – I might not have finished all my sewing in September itself, but I didn’t start anything new until I’d done it all. Maybe this is the way to keep myself on track?
  • Sewing generates a lot of waste. I have a Sainsbury’s bag (why I brought plastic bags with me to another country I’ll never know) full of fabric scraps ready to go to the nearest H&M for recycling. I already do my best to squeeze pattern pieces into the smallest possible space, but there will always be offcuts. I’ve never really thought about it before, but after that mammoth cutting out session, it was really brought home to me. From now on I’ll save my scraps and take them into H&M every couple of months.
  • I think I have a pretty sensible approach to buying fabric. Looking through my stash, it’s all stuff I would wear, in colours that fit into my wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong, I love a crazy print (and I’ve sewn a couple over the summer) but the majority of fabrics in my stash are block colours.
  • Since I had a lot to get through in September I decided to blog three times a week. It gets a bit much after a while, and I didn’t quite manage it by the end of the month. Twice a week seems much more manageable.

Sew My Stash September was a lot of work, and I set myself a tough challenge in planning to sew so much. However, I quite enjoyed it! It was good to have a clear goal and it’s certainly satisfying to get through so much fabric in a relatively short space of time. I might even make it an annual thing.

And finally…

I didn’t quite get my final two projects, a pair of Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dresses, made in September, but I did manage to start them before the 30th. I wanted to get a production line going one afternoon, but I had to stop in the evening because I hit a point where overlocking was unavoidable. Not wanting to annoy the neighbours, I stopped for the night and the next couple of days too… The main thing is, I got them done eventually.

Stripy front

Chris is in the UK this weekend so I worked out how to set up the remote for the camera. I’m not brave enough to do it outside on my own just yet. 

Anyway, the fabric! I bought the denim shortly after I made my first Cleo earlier this year from the fabric shop in Balham, along with the buckles for both. I’d always planned to make another Cleo with it, but didn’t quite get there what with the move and the summer etc. The stripy stuff is a canvas from Our Fabric Stash in Pike Place Market (probably the most recognisable part of Seattle after the Space Needle). Our Fabric Stash is a consignment shop, so everything started life in someone else’s stash and is sold as found. I think this stuff had been sitting in someone’s collection for a while as it had that distinctive musty smell that takes ages to shift in the wash.

Denim front

As you can see, I need more practice. 

I had a lovely time making these up – the Cleo is a very easy pattern and it was fun to revisit it. I wanted a little bit of a challenge, though, so I had a crack at topstitching the denim one with proper thread and everything. Since any mistake would be super noticeable, I took things really slowly. I discovered that my machine doesn’t like backtacking with topstitching thread, so I ended up not doing it and caught the loose ends in seams and overlocking. For the most part I just used the guides on my presser foot to keep things even, but for the curves on the back pockets I drew around a side plate with some tailors’ chalk. I’m so pleased with how it all turned out that I think the topstitching is my favourite feature on the denim version. I only wish I’d bought more than one 33-yard reel – it would have been great to add it on the straps and around the top facing but I had nowhere near enough for both.

Back pocket topstitching

So. Pleased. 


I’m also quite pleased with the patches which I picked up a few weeks ago in the Fremont Vintage Mall. I just popped in for a bit of a mooch and ended up rummaging through baskets of old patches (mostly from Scout and Girl Scout events) and happened upon these two. And they were iron on! No faffing about with hand sewing! I’m not sure how they’ll hold up in the wash, but I think they add a little extra to the front pocket.

Patches and topstitching

So that’s it for Sew My Stash September! If you joined in, how did you get on? Would you do it again?


The plain white tee

Hey hey! How’s your Sunday going? We’ve had a bit of a whirlwind week entertaining both sets of parents. They all arrived last Friday and in that time we’ve been whale watching, walked the meadows of Mount Rainier, seen the eclipse and been on a float plane flight around the city. It’s been lovely to catch up, but man, was it tiring!? The other bit of news is that I am now legally able to work in the US! My work permit came through this week, so the job hunt starts tomorrow. Wish me luck, and if you know anyone in Seattle who’d love an internal comms bod in their business, send ’em my way.

Mum Mt Rainier

In the meadows on Mount Rainier with my mum. Felt like we were in Heidi or something.

Anyway, sewing! This week I’ve taken a break from making girly dresses in fabulous prints in favour of making something a bit more basic. And you can’t get more basic than a plain white t-shirt. One of the paper patterns I brought with me to the US was the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top. With its close-fitting cut, it struck me as a good potential layering piece, but also a nice way to show off some pretty fabric. I’ve never been entirely happy about sewing with knits (I blame my experience with my first Moneta), but I want to improve.


The Agnes is a close fit, and it’s reminded me that I need a better, smoother bra. There’s a reason you’re not going to see a full shot of my back…

It’s a good job I was up for a challenge because the pattern calls for a lighter jersey than I’ve been used to sewing with. Thinking that I’d be able to see my mistakes more clearly I opted for a plain, off-white bamboo jersey from Harts Fabrics and I was pretty pleased with my choice. It’s silky and soft, and you can tell that the quality is there. I like it, but my sewing machine did not. I tested out my zigzag stitching on a scrap before committing to the pattern pieces – I think I got maybe six zigzags out of a six-inch line. I couldn’t be bothered to go out and get more needles, so I decided to have a go at sewing it on my overlocker – another first for me. It just needed to be topstitched with a twin needle.

And do you know what? It was pretty easy! There were a few fiddly bits to manage with the overlocker, but apart from that I didn’t have any issues. I hand basted the stabilising ribbon at the shoulder so I didn’t accidentally overlock my pins, and I did the same with the neckband. I spent ages pinning and basting the neckline before overlocking – the neck band is 10% smaller than the neckline and I wanted to make sure that it was even and wrinkle-free. It’s a tiny bit wrinkly at the back but not enough to be really noticeable.

Back neckline

Things to improve for next time: wonky twin-needle topstitching. But otherwise, I’m pretty pleased with that effort.

I graded from a size 4 at the bust and waist to a 6 at the hips. From my measurements I should be a size 7 hip in Tilly’s patterns, but I know from experience this is a little bit too roomy – I’m pretty pleased with the fit as is. If I’m being picky I could maybe stand a little bit more space around the arms but that’s what stretchy fabric is for, eh?

Now that I’ve had a go and didn’t mess it up, I want to make more! It’ll be a useful long-sleeved top for cooler weather and with plenty of pretty jersey around, who am I to refuse?!


Another thing I may change for next time is the sleeve length – I quite like the elbow-length sleeve here, but a short sleeve would also be good.

Inspiration from the big screen: 20th Century Women

I’ve spent a lot of time on planes over recently – at least 24 hours by my count. Like most people I never sleep properly on transport, so I’ve been catching up with all the films I’ve missed at the cinema. Watching films that are intended for the big screen on the back of an airline seat isn’t ideal but I reckon I’ve done pretty well out of it. I’ve now seen all but two of this year’s Oscar nominees for best picture (Fences and Hell or High Water) plus filling in some long-lasting gaps in my viewing (Avatar. Don’t bother).

One of these plane movies was 20th Century Women starring Annette Bening, Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig. Bening plays Dorothea, a bohemian single mother in her 50s who enlists two other women to help raise her teenage son, Jamie, in late 1970s California. It’s an interesting take on raising a child – all three women use their own experiences to influence him. They don’t necessarily get it right (whatever ‘right’ is), but they all act with Jamie’s best interests at heart, showing him the world as they see it. There aren’t any plot twists but a great ensemble cast playing well-crafted characters. I’d recommend seeking it out if you can.

And do you know what? They wear some lovely clothes too! I love the late 70s fashions in the film. It’s modern vintage – no fussy features, simple to wear and comfortable. If I want to go for a vintage look, it’d be my era of choice. A lot of the clothes could be easily recreated using indie patterns – here’s a quick round-up.

Dorothea (Annette Bening)
Dorothea wears a lot of Liberty-style prints throughout the film, but my favourite has to be this pussy-bow blouse that features in the publicity shots.

I’m thinking the Sew Over It pussy-bow blouse or a hacked version of Tilly and the Buttons Mimi blouse would work here. And obvs, you’d have to use a Tana lawn like this one.

Abbie (Greta Gerwig)
Abbie’s style is a bit more punk than the other characters – think Patti Smith with a dash of Debbie Harry. My choice for her slouchy shirts and rolled up sleeves would be the Sew Over It Alex shirt in bright rayon. I did have a shirt like the one below planned, but then I used my red rayon on my Winslow culottes. Kinda wanna buy more now…



Alex shirt

Julie (Elle Fanning)
I loved just about everything Julie wore in this film, which is basically a lot of denim skirts and blouses, and we all know about my current love for a good shirt… Anyway, I particularly loved this midi length skirt, which I reckon would be great as a Colette Zinnia (version 1) in a simple blue chambray.

Front view resize

My Zinnia from last year.

I’m also a big fan of this outfit (yellow and blue developing into a bit of a theme here), which I can see as a Tilly and the Buttons Miette skirt and a SOI Ultimate shirt in light cotton lawn.


Red ultimate shirt

One of my Ultimate shirts in cotton lawn.

Do you ever get inspired by the costumes you see on the big screen? Let me know in the comments!

Oh, and hello to Jason Isaacs.


Going loco for Coco

Hello from Seattle! After weeks of packing, storing, tipping and charity shopping, Chris and I have finally left the UK for the US. I arrived on Sunday afternoon (Chris has been here a week longer), and I’m a little jet lagged, but otherwise happy to be here. I haven’t done a great deal yet, but I have managed to set up a bank account, made a trip to the supermarket and tried out the local buses. I’m still without a sewing machine but in the meantime I’ve got an embroidery project on the go to scratch my creative itch. More on that another time…

Anyway, what with moving continents and everything, I’ve got a little bit of a backlog of finished garments to share. Before we had our visas approved I had quite a productive January, and one of the results of that was a new Coco dress.

Coco dress front

So Boden. I should be pushing a pram around Clapham or something…

I’d had this red and white stripy interlock jersey in my stash for too long, mainly because I’m a bit scared of knits (worried that they’ll stretch blah blah blah). As you may remember I’m not at my happiest when sewing knits, but I wanted to give it another go, this time with the Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress. Holding the pattern pieces up to my shoulders showed me that the dress version would be a bit too short for my liking so I had to add a couple of inches to make it sit on the knee. I also graded it out so it would fit my hips nicely. Turns out I needn’t have bothered – I ended up taking it in a fair bit from hip to hem as it just seemed that there was too much fabric in the skirt.

Taking it in did the trick fit-wise, but it did knock my stripe-matching off a bit. I’d done everything to make those stripes match up – cut the pieces on a single layer, pinned them to within an inch of their life, etc – but now they’re ever-so-slightly off. No matter though; it’s not enough for anyone to notice.

Coco dress side

Prob not the best pic for looking at the stripe matching, but they are just off down the side seams.

Despite my fears, I’m happy to report that this dress came together really easily. I used a zigzag stitch for the seams, but finished the neckline and hems with a twin needle as I think it looks more professional than using zigzag throughout as recommended.

Coco dress neckline

The dress is great, if a little Boden catalogue. It’s done me proud at work and I’ve had some lovely comments from people. The fabric is super-soft and snuggly, and the fit is loose enough to feel comfortable, even after a big dinner. It’s a quick make too – a morning’s work – so there may well be more on the horizon. Once I get a machine.

Coco dress back

Hmmm… Potential swayback issues?



Does anyone else think of Dexy’s Midnight Runners when they think of dungarees? I haven’t worn a pair myself since the mid-90s when I had some short dungarees for the summer. [Un]fortunately I have no photos, but I loved those things – they were so comfortable and I thought I was so cool wearing them. I’m not sure I could carry off proper dungarees anymore but a dress version is a happy compromise.

Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo dress came along just at the right time. It’s an easy-fitting dress with two length options and instructions for buckles or buttonholes. I’ve seen loads of lovely versions over the internet, and not just in traditional denim. When Tilly released a new batch of kits, I snapped one up in aubergine needlecord.


The kit came with everything you need to make your Cleo – pattern, thread, interfacing, shiny silver buckles and enough fabric to make one dress. The fabric is seriously nice too. So very soft. Before cutting it out I must have spent a good 15 minutes just stroking it… Don’t judge me. I was… ermmm… testing for the nap…

Anyway, the pattern comes with Tilly’s trademark clear and detailed instructions. I went for the longer version and had no problems sewing it up – it’s a great pattern for a beginner, but a nice quick sew for someone with more projects under their belt. Proving every day’s a school day, I did pick up a new skill! I’d never done a bar tack before and never really realised that it’s just a row of really tight zigzags. Mine’s at the top of the front split for reinforcement.

As dungarees have a relaxed fit, I was confident that my standard adjustments to TATB patterns would be ok. I’m a 4 on top, but according to my measurements I should be a 7 on the bottom. I graded it out as normal but the finished article made me look like I was wearing jodhpurs, so I unpicked and resewed. I’ll try grading to a 6 next time instead.


Difficult to see in this pic, but I can assure you there is a painstakingly stitched pocket on this dress.

This was a really satisfying sew and I’ve had a lot of lovely comments about this one (apart from my dad, who asked me why I was wearing overalls *sigh*). From tracing the pattern (normally the part that takes me ages, mainly because I find it so very tedious) to trying on the finished article, this took me about four hours. I can see more on the horizon too. It doesn’t take up much fabric – less than 1.25m for the longer length dress – so it’s good for stash busting. I’ve already bought some dark blue denim and the buckles for my next version, though this time I think I’ll give contrasting top stitching a go.

That’ll have to wait though, cos I’m about two weeks away from the big move and I am mainly spending time sorting out my life right now. That and my machine and overlocker went into storage last week. I am itching to do some more making but I’ll have to restrain myself until I get to the other side of the pond.

What’s on your sewing table at the moment?



Getting ruthless with my pattern stash

I’m not much of a hoarder, but like most I do accumulate stuff at a rate of knots. Moving continent has given us a great chance to have a bit of a purge and if I can’t take it, it’s either going in storage or to the Tooting Oxfam.

As we’re going to be travelling light I can’t take much sewing stuff. I’ll be buying a new machine in the US  and I’ve been thinking about what equipment I can take from my sewing box to get me started. This means some pretty straightforward decisions, but I’ve had to be ruthless with my many paper patterns.  The ones I know I’ll never make went straight to the charity shop. Then I had to choose what would make the trip and what would go into storage. I limited myself to taking ten essential and versatile printed patterns, with the aim of creating a capsule wardrobe.

So what made  the list?

  1. Sew Over It Vintage Shirt Dress – great office wear in the winter and makes a wonderful summer dress in cotton lawn
  2. By Hand London Anna dress – multi-purpose dress that works in all the fabrics, plus the instructions are so clear on inserting an invisible zip. I forget how to do it every time, but the BHL ladies help me through.5dafceed-c554-42e6-845d-6a2dd38025cel0001
  3. Tilly and the Buttons Cleo dress – I made one of these the other day and now I want more! Watch out for a post on this coming soon.
  4. Deer & Doe Chardon skirt – I wear my Chardons all the time – in the office and at home. You will be seeing more!Anchor chardon front
  5. Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt – I’ve worn my previous versions of this into the ground. Need more.
  6. Tilly and the Buttons Arielle skirt – this is purely a work skirt for me, but I love it as it’s so different to my usual fit n’ flare skirts.Arielle pose
  7. Sew Over It Ultimate Shirt – I’m taking the class at the moment and I’m pretty pleased with my progress. It’s a fitted shirt that will work best for smart/office wear.
  8. Grainline Archer shirt – it’s been in my stash for ages. It’ll be awesome for all sorts of casual wear.
  9. Tilly and the Buttons Agnes top – I haven’t made this one either, but it’s a wardrobe basic, and the online class will hold my hand as I get to grips with jersey.
  10. My copied Oasis top – I’ve made loads of these, but they’re so useful to have for layering under cardies.50s pleated skirt front 1
  11. Simple Sew Shannon trousers (free with Love Sewing magazine in Sept/Oct last year) – I haven’t made these yet but I will need some pants, and these wide-leg trousers will suit my eastern European shotputter’s legs quite nicely.
  12. By Hand London Victoria blazer – because I need something to throw over the top of everything.

So I may have gone slightly over my target of ten, but I’ll just have to sit on my suitcase to get it closed (and let’s not talk about the bonus home décor patterns I ripped out from some sewing magazines. They totally don’t count).

How about you? If you could only take a few patterns with you to a new place, which ones would you choose?

Me Made May round up no. 2

It’s Wednesday, so it’s time for another Me Made May round up! (FYI I’m trying to keep Sundays for finished garments and Wednesdays for general chat)


Day 5: My grey rayon Mathilde. I think I need to revisit this pattern – I noticed the darts are sitting a bit too high on my bust. This is my hipster pose on the streets of Kentish Town.

Day 6: You’ll have to take my word for it that I wore my white patterned Scout tee. I just forgot to get a photo.


Day 7: An unblogged Tilly and the Buttons Clemence skirt in floaty double gauze. Later on that day I would flash Tooting High Street, Marilyn style, thanks to a sudden gust of wind, but here I am in the queue for Sainsburys having done a big shop. BTW Margaret on the till is ace. She told me to say cheese and everything.


Day 8: My favourite of my Grace dresses – finally getting to wear it now that the sun’s out. This is Sunday’s BBQ and those are chicken kebabs.



Day 9: My Mortmain. If I make this again, I will also take a look at the darts. I should have done an FBA but didn’t bother at the time. Still a wearable dress and good for this warm weather. This was taken at the top of Parliament Hill at Hampstead Heath on my lunch hour, and that is Canary Wharf in the distance.

10th- resize

Day 10: My latest Zinnia taken while cooking a chicken and chorizo paella. I love this skirt. I also love that paella.


Day 11:  Blue Hollyburn. I like the shape of this skirt, but it’s been worn pretty regularly for two years now and the colour is starting to fade. Might be time to remake in something less washed out. Another kitchen shot – tonight’s tea is spinach and feta filo pie from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. It takes an hour, easily.

So what have I learned so far? Well, judging by these photos, I am definitely in my blue period. If it’s not denim or navy, I clearly don’t want to know! It certainly looks like I need a bit more colour in my life. I’ve been half-following Christine Haynes’ take on the Wardrobe Architect project which has a section on colour palette and I’m toying with the idea of doing it myself in time for this Autumn (not right now – a project like that needs a bit of attention and right now I’m focused on sewing my list and from my stash).

I’ve also noticed a couple of patterns that I still love, but need to revisit because they don’t fit as well as I’d like/the colour has faded/I just haven’t made it in a while. These tend to be clothes I wear all the time, so it’d definitely be worth the effort.

How about you? Has Me Made May provoked any flashes of enlightenment yet?









Arielle, the human world… it’s a mess

I couldn’t resist a bit of Sebastian the crab for the title of this post. He was clearly the best character in the Disney version of the Little Mermaid. He got all the best songs – Under the Sea and Kiss the Girl, obvs – and he had all the best expressions. Shock. Fear. Lurrrrvvveee.

Anyway, my love for an animated crustacean with a bizarre accent aside, I’m here today to talk about my latest make, the Tilly and the Buttons Arielle skirt. It’s a bit of a departure for me (not much though, I don’t like to go nuts) as I generally favour a fuller skirt over a pencil, but I was attracted by the asymmetric wrap style with the buttons offset to the side, which made it more interesting than your standard pencil. I also had some raspberry needlecord in my stash which a) I was dying to use and b) had to be used in a pattern with a bit of structure.

Arielle pose

The smug face of a girl who loves her new skirt.

I made this skirt over the course of two weekends, in between hen dos and house hunting and I have to say I really enjoyed the experience. As Tilly seems to draft for ladies who are less full of hip than I am, I had to make some adjustments to the pattern before I started, grading from a 4 at the waist to a 7 at the hip. I also wanted the skirt to hit me at the knee, so after making a quick toile to check that my adjustments worked, I also chopped off two inches off the bottom, taking care to do the same with the lining pieces too. This meant that I had to take two of the eight buttons off the bottom, but that worked in my favour – I only had six of my preferred buttons in the stash, so I’ll chalk that one up to a win.

Arielle back

These photos were taken after a day at work – the back of the skirt was really creased after a day of sitting, so I had to run the iron over it again before Chris could take the pictures.

The instructions are super clear as you’d expect from a TATB pattern, but none of the sewing was particularly difficult. I even managed to do all of the buttonholes without my machine having a paddy, or having to do any of them all over again! IT’S PRACTICALLY A MIRACLE!

I’m especially pleased with my efforts with the lining – it’s so very neat and professional – but it took a while to get there. It was my own fault really. I didn’t mark up my cut out pattern pieces properly so after I assembled the lining and trimmed down the seam allowances, and went to attach it to the facings, I found that I’d sewn the bloody thing the wrong way round. It was a right side/wrong side error, so next time I’ll make sure I mark everything up properly. Luckily I had enough of the lining fabric left to correct my mistake, but when I noticed it I decided that it was probably a good time to step away from the machine for the day.

Arielle inside bottom

Lovely buttonholes, and a lovely, neat lining.

I think one of the signs of a good pattern is when you’re thinking of other versions you’d like to make while you’re sewing it up. I’ve got one in green wool planned, plus pencil/kilt version like the one Jenny from Cashmerette did a few months ago – just need to locate some kilt buckles. I’ve even got all the fabric already in which means I’m doing well with my stash diet!

In short, I really love this skirt. I love the fabric. I love the buttons. I love the shape. I feel good when I’m wearing it – like a cross between Peggy and Joan from Mad Men (curvy and sexy like Joan, but in the type of fabric you’d expect to see Peggy wearing)– and judging by Chris’ reaction when I tried it on, I’d say he likes it too…

Wins all round.

Crazy in the Coco-nut

At the risk of turning into something of a fangirl, I’m going to talk about another Tilly and the Buttons pattern today. Sometimes it feels like I’m sewing through her entire back catalogue, but I don’t care. She makes gorgeous patterns that I want to wear and I’m not ashamed to say that I love them. LOVE THEM.

Part of my Me Made May pledge was to finish my Moneta dress that has been sitting, cut out, but not sewn for about a year now. Well, I still haven’t done anything with it, but I will soon! I lost my confidence a bit with knits – my first Moneta was a traumatic experience (once again, down to fabric choice) and my experiments with scraps of fabric left me convinced that I couldn’t work out the correct tension and that any further effort on the dress would lead to tears. So after a year’s procrastination, I told myself I had to suck it up and get on with things. But maybe not on the Moneta just yet… The Coco top seemed like a good introduction to knits – quick, simple, wearable, and accompanied Tilly’s top notch instructions to hold my hand.

No photos of my ugly mug today. My photographer is still abroad, so Elsie the dress form will have to do.

No photos of my ugly mug today. My photographer is still abroad, so Elsie the dress form will have to do.

This time, I paid attention to the type of fabric required by the pattern. I used some stripy interlock stuff, dreaming of a Breton top perfect for zipping round town like some sort of Northern Jean Seberg or something. I’m not sure I quite achieve the look, and the stripes are too close together for ultimate Breton-ness but this stuff is really soft to the touch and a delight to sew with. I cut a size four, grading out to a six at the hips and went on my way.

For my first go at the Coco I thought I would follow the instructions to the letter and sew the entire thing on my sewing machine, rather than the overlocker. I’ll have a bit of a play with my scraps to see how things turn out overlocking everything, but this time I wanted to see how things turned out on a standard machine.

I stabilised the shoulders with some clear elastic and came to the conclusion that I still hate it. It doesn’t behave nicely, and I ended up mangling one corner of the shoulder seams in my machine’s feed dogs as a result. It was OK though; the mangling was within the seam allowance so wouldn’t be visible and I managed to unpick it and start again. Next time though, I think I’ll try ribbon or stay tape or just something a bit nicer to work with. I used Wundaweb to stick down the neckline before turning and topstitching. I fared a bit better with this stuff. It worked a treat! The Moneta has a turned and topstitched neckline, but recommends stabilising with clear elastic. I might just swap in some Wundaweb instead…

The rest of the top came together really quickly and easily. To be fair, I was making the simplest version, with no fancy neckline or cuffs, but even taking things really, really slowly, I still managed to make it in about 3.5 hours, and that includes trying it on, stabbing myself with some pins and a few swears!

I’m really happy with it as a first attempt. I can say, without hesitation, that everything people say about knit garments is true – they DO feel like you’re wearing pyjamas! And I love my PJs, so that’s a true compliment in my book. That said though, there are a few things I’d do differently next time.


  • Be a bit more careful with cutting out. I pinned the pattern to the fabric, and with hindsight, that was perhaps a mistake. It looks like the pins have distorted the fabric and pulled it slightly off grain. You can see it most obviously on the neckline and hems where the stripes don’t quite match up with the folds. It’s not enough to put me off wearing it, but it is a lesson learned. Perhaps I should have made my first in a solid colour, but then again I probably wouldn’t have spotted anything amiss.
  • Use a twin needle to finish the neckline and hems. The zigzag stitch is fine, but I think the twin needle would produce a more professional looking finish.
  • Maaaayyybbbeee take about an inch off the length. This is saying something for me as I’m quite long in the body, but the top is a little longer than I’d usually have. This is no biggie – just something to remember for the next one.

So all in all, I might just have been cured of my knitophobia. I am off to take my new top off my dress form and revel in its comfort while enjoying the rest of the Antiques Roadshow.

Neckline - I reckon a twin needle would produce a more professional look, though you could make a feature out of the zigzag with different coloured thread.

Neckline – I reckon a twin needle would produce a more professional look, though you could make a feature out of the zigzag with different coloured thread.


Close up on the side split and a stripe matching fail :-)

Close up on the side split and a stripe matching fail 🙂


Is that low viscosity rayon? With a half loop top stitching on the hem?

If you know your Legally Blonde, you’ll know it’s impossible to use a half loop top stitching on low viscosity rayon. It would snag the fabric. However, using rayon for a Tilly and the Buttons Mathilde blouse? Gives pretty good results, I’d say.

You might remember my earlier attempts at the Mathilde. I used a pink chambray which behaved beautifully, pressed like a dream and produced some lovely looking innards. Shame the fabric was too stiff meaning that when I wore it, it looked like I was wearing a box. With massive cuffs. I was quite disappointed as I’d worked hard on that blouse, but I was not put off. I was convinced that the problem was the fabric choice. I needed something a bit more fluid, so I picked up some drapey rayon and had another go. Well, another two goes. I was quite pleased with the first, so I made a second.

The first was in a dove grey rayon I found in Sew Over It when I was there doing the Ultimate Trousers class. I’d never worked with rayon before, and man is it slippy! Pinning and cutting out was a bit of a challenge as it moved around a lot, but I managed it without any tears. Having already made a toile and the abortive chambray version, there were no surprises with the construction, but working with the rayon made making the tucks a little tricky. I had to pin them to within an inch of their life to get them to lie still, and they’re still a teensy bit off, but you’d only know if you were looking for them.


The smug smile of success.

I made a straight size 4 with one small (well, depends on your definition of small) adjustment. The pink chambray version gathered a lot of fabric around the cuffs and it was way too much for me. I wanted something a bit more subtle, so I took out four inches on either side of the sleeve, so eight inches in total. A WHOLE EIGHT INCHES. That’s a hell of a lot less to gather. I’m pretty pleased with the results – there’s a little bit of volume there, but it’s much more understated and a bit more me.

The only thing I would change about this version is the button placement. I used those Frixion pens to mark my buttonholes but they disappear with heat – when I pressed the back the opening, it wiped the buttonhole markings so I marked them up again without referring to the pattern. I should have used my common sense but I marked the top one a bit lower than I should have done, meaning that it gapes open. It didn’t even occur to me until I saw the photos! I’m going to add a hook and eye to the top as a quick fix.


Bit narked about that gaping, but easily fixed.

I love this top. I wore it to work on the day of a big launch and I got so many lovely comments, with people telling me I looked very elegant and all sorts! Talk about a confidence boost! It flows a lot more nicely than the chambray version and generally feels a lot more comfortable. I’m not pulling it down all the time to try and get it to sit properly and it’s completely work appropriate. WIN.

Take four
Buoyed by my success with the grey version, I wanted more! I’d been eyeing up Cotton + Steel’s rayon for a while, and I knew the navy blue one with white polka diamonds would be perfect. Maybe it was because I’d had a bit of practice with the grey fabric, but I found this one easier to work with. The challenge was with getting the fabric to lay still while laying out the pattern – it’s a bit more obvious when there’s a print. I managed it ok, but I think if/when I use rayon again, I’ll either use pattern weights instead of pins, and maybe some tissue paper between layers to make it a bit more stable.


All about that drape

Not much to say on the construction of this one, apart from I used my overlocker to finish the armhole sleeves – the first time I’ve done it on any garment. I took my time with making this but the thing that really took an age (as with all my other Mathildes) was the cutting out, interfacing and marking up. There’s two lots of darts, six tucks and seven buttonholes to do, then interfacing the bodice facings and cuff bands. I had loads of scraps to use up so I took a patchwork approach to the cuffs too. This was probably the most time consuming part of the whole thing, but after that the top came together nice and quickly.


What a faff.


I love this version too. It’s a bit more casual than the grey Mathilde, so it’ll be a weekend blouse to go with jeans, or for dress down Friday. I’ve tried it tucked into a skirt and it makes me look like I’m straight from the 70s, so I think I prefer it untucked. It’s a great top for in between seasons – nice, breezy and easy to wear. I think it’s going to get a lot of action over the next few weeks!

Proof, if it was ever needed, that fabric choice really does make a difference. 🙂

Party in the back

Party in the back