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A mustard Saraste shirtdress

I’ve been wanting to make the Saraste shirtdress from the Named book, “Breaking the Pattern” ever since I first saw it at their UK launch party. It comes in three different views in the book: as a princess-seam blouse with ruffles, a button-down shirt with shoulder cutouts, and as a shirtdress with ruffled collar. I ended up making the shirtdress, but added in the shoulder cutouts for some extra interest, too.

A double gauze day dress

A while back I’d heard of a fabric called “double gauze” that was supposedly perfect for hot weather, but at the time it was really only available imported from Japanese shops and really expensive at that! Fast forward a few years and it’s now much more readily available locally, so when I was in Brighton last August I bought some of their muted teal double gauze fabric (also available in a bunch of other colours), keen to try it out. Double gauze is two layers of cotton gauze/muslin fabric joined together with stitches in a grid pattern which creates a sort of seeersucker or quilted texture. It also means the two layers may not be 100% on grain to each other, and it really likes to shrink in the wash so be sure to pre-wash it.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it though until I saw the perfect day dress in the May 2019 edition of KnipMode magazine (#11, though #12 is a longer version with longer sleeves). The pattern is available to buy online, too, though be aware the instructions are in Dutch.

My bias silk 40th birthday gown

Happy 40th birthday to me! Since it’s a big birthday year I kinda felt like I just had to celebrate big, too! So we rented the whole of a private members cocktail bar near Kings Cross, invited a bunch of people, laid on pizzas, and let the rest just happen! Every year I like to make myself something special to celebrate my birthday, and I felt like I should sew a big, glamorous dress for myself to feel like a total star at the party, too.

I happened to have four meters of gorgeous copper-coloured silk satin (charmeuse) in my stash which I’d bought from Truro Fabrics back in 2015 with the intention of sewing a gown for the World Transplant Games gala dinner in Argentina. But I didn’t quite have enough time to sew it before we left, and the silk has been in my stash ever since. I still had the receipt in with the fabric, too, and the price reflects the incredible quality of this silk – I’d paid about £75 for it.

A tropical print Bettine dress

Like the best comic book superheroes, this dress has an almost unbelievable origin story.

As you know, I’ve been sick with multiple viral infections for months, and have been pretty down about it all. Well, I stepped out of the flat one day a few weeks ago and bam! right on the pavement outside the flat was a Tilly & the Buttons Bettine dress pattern, just lying there! I mean, seriously, what are the chances?

I could’ve just left it there for whomever dropped it to recover, but with rain forecast later in the day I didn’t want it to get ruined and besides, this was the Universe giving me A Sign, and I didn’t feel like I should overlook the only good luck I’d had in months! So I took it home and started fabric shopping immediately.

A Golden Velvet Moneta Dress

I started as new office job back in May (I’m a product manager in the music/tech space when I’m not designing sewing patterns or writing books!) and since this company is significantly bigger than all the previous offices I’ve worked for in the past, I’ve spent the last few months getting excited about the prospect of the first big office Christmas party of my life. And of course, with that comes What To Wear.

The Cityscape dress

I was in need of a palate cleansing easy make after I returned from competing in Malaga and promptly came down with a cold (and made a wadder in the form of some deeply unflattering culottes that make me look 10 feet wide). Luckily, I had an invitation to attend the 25th birthday party of my local fabric store, Fabrics Galore, and while I sipped some bubbly I couldn’t help but do some shopping…

The ombre denim Gimlet birthday dress

Happy (slightly belated) 38th birthday to meeeeeeeee!

My birthday was on Saturday and, after the stinker that was last year, I had a blast! I have a tradition where I like to sew myself something special to celebrate the occasion, and this year I decided to make myself a cocktail dress – rather fitting since I invited my friends out for cocktails on Friday to our favourite little whisky bar.

I’ve been utterly enchanted with the Gimlet dress pattern from the moment Capital Chic released it. Granted, Sally is a friend and I respect her work and design aesthetic so much, but this dress in particular was just too “me” not to make! I mean – sheath dress (tick), asymmetric (tick). And that’s pretty much all I need to add it to my To Sew list, ha!

A Japanese print day dress

I can’t start this post today without first sending out a massive, massive THANK YOU to everyone who’ve commented and gotten in touch on all forms of social media to say congratulations on my book deal. The response has absolutely exceeded my expectations and I’ve been overwhelmed by the love, enthusiasm, and confidence you all have in me. Thank you.

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on the book full-time, putting all my energy, thoughts, energy, and even my dreams into the book (no, really – a solution to one of my design problems actually came to me in a dream!). But I know it’s easy to get burned out in a project like this so I try very, very hard to Keep Weekends Sacred and not work on the book. But I still want to do a little bit of sewing here and there (not just sock loom knitting!), so I’ve been doing quick little weekend projects unrelated to the book that I can clear out of my sewing room in time for activewear sewing during the week.

Last month’s issue of Love Sewing magazine included McCalls 7381 free and I thought it looked like a nice little dress to make up over a weekend (if you’re in the States, this pattern’s on sale through the end of today, just fyi!). My stash is absolutely at capacity with fabrics for book samples, so I wanted to use up something I already had and found a Japanese print cotton that my friend Alex brought me back from Tomato in Tokyo last winter. Ideally, the pattern should use something less structured and more flowy than a quilting cotton, but I don’t tend to buy many fabrics like that, so I figured it’d be fine for a casual summer day dress.

A yellow Drape Drape dress

From the first time I flipped through the first Drape Drape book, this dress really grabbed my attention and I knew that I’d eventually make it. Like most of the patterns in the Drape Drape books, this one has both unusual, 3D seaming and lots of gathers (or tucks). This is the third pattern I’ve made in the series, after the asymmetric teeshirt (twice!), and the gathered tunic dress.

Unlike the Pattern Magic books, in the Drape Drape books the patterns are included in several sheets at the back which you trace off, a’la Burda magazine. But though the lines aren’t packed as densely as in Burda’s, the lines aren’t coloured nor do they have different dashes or dots, so it’s not as easy to trace in my opinion! Because the shapes are often wraparound, the pieces can be quite big, and you have to trace them in a few different parts.

A Breton tee dress

The origins of this dress are a bit “chicken and egg” – did I think about making the Breton tee dress from the latest Great British Sewing Bee book first, or did I decide I finally wanted to cut into the hefty black and white striped ponte in my stash first? I’m not entirely sure of the order, but I do like it when a plan comes together which doesn’t involve me buying anything more!