P-P-P-Pick up a Penguin Pinny

Sorry I couldn’t resist that old reference to the chocolate bar of my youth.

Today I bring you a seasonal Pinny made with some super soft penguin calico from Minerva.com.

I was gifted some of this cute penguin calico. It’s a lot softer than the average calico with THE cutest red penguins on. It took me a while to decide what to make but as time went on (and the work load went up) I went simple. A Christmas pinny!

I’m the cook who can cover herself in flour just taking it out of the draw so pinny’s are an essential for me. I’ve a tutorial on how I made the pinny on the Minerva blog so if you’re thinking of making your own or knocking up a last minute gift then pop on over for a guide to making your own.

Click here for a quick link straight to the Penguin Pinny tutorial.

I’ve cut out a wash bag but I don’t think I’ll get that made up anytime soon.  I also fancy an oven glove but again, time passes way too quickly to think I’m going to get that put together any time soon.  Maybe I’ll grab an hour soon.

Grrreat Lane

I may have mentioned this before but the Lane raglan from Hey June is my go to t-shirt/hoody pattern. I used it for my cloud t-shirt as well as the base for my green furry goodness jumper.

When I came across this grumpy bear fabric at Jelly Fabrics I knew it had to be mine. It was a bolt end, not a full metre but I could see it as a perfect t-shirt. I had some black jersey which would work for the sleeve and neckline to bring it all together and make it even more wearable.

I cut a large, making it a loose fit T perfect for early autumn days and under a jumper as we go into winter. It is So comfy. This is absolutely my TNT t-shirt pattern as the neckline isn’t too high and I love a curved hem.  Not that you can tell, tucked into my Morgans.  I shortened the sleeves a bit due to being a little shorter myself.

Next time I’ll use the front adjusted pattern as I noticed it’s got a couple of drag lines where the boobage has taken up too much room.

These grumpy bears have been so successful and I love a contrast sleeve. I have shiny Llamas waiting in the wings for the next T.

This blog post is bought to you in real life, no make up, hair not quite dry and probably ready for a cut. This is how sunday mornings roll for me, the grumpy bear fabric makes for perfect weekend wear. I wish I’d bought more.

From Jumpsuit to dress

Turning the Zadie Jumpsuit into a dress.

So, I’ve worn the Zadie jumpsuit A LOT!

I’ve gone from someone who doesn’t do jumpsuits to one who goes straight to my Zadie when I want an easy option. My figure has changed in the last year or so and my summer wardrobe had been trimmed down with what I could fit into. The easy fitting Zadie came just at the right time. I’ve become a lover of soft waists and loose dresses. The polar opposite of my former wardrobe of fitted shift dresses and skinny jeans. Until I get to grips with it all, I need to re- evaluate my wardrobe and add a few pieces that will work for me as I am now.

I’ve been hankering after a green dress this year. I don’t know why, I’m normally a blue or red girl but green has been tugging at my heart. A soft flowing V-neck that will work in my wardrobe. A nice viscose crepe in an emerald green, I thought. Well, naturally finding exactly what’s in my brain is impossible. That was until I was mooching around my local emporium (Anglian fashion fabrics) and spotted their linen range. Not so soft and flowing or even emerald green but a lovely midweight apple green Ramie linen. I put it off for several weeks trying to decide on the style/ pattern that would work.

Pulling my Zadie out of the wardrobe one morning cemented an idea. I’d seen one or two Zadie dresses. The top fitted really well and the linen was a good weight for the pattern. I’m not one for gathers and I wondered about a flared skirt as I was already aware of extra bulk around my waist. I made up the top half to help me work out which skirt to do.

I was looking for a project to do on the sewing weekender. Emma @craftyclyde had secured us tickets with her super speedy ninja keyboard skills and all of a sudden it was happening very soon. I’d need a project and with still being undecided the night before, I realised I could finish my dress. I didn’t really need to cut another project out. Yay to finishing something! I’d still not decided on the skirt shape but as I was pushed for time I went with a pleated skirt. If I left the front flat it would still be flattering (i.e. not add any more bulk) So I cut 2 skirt lengths of the fabric width. I cut down the fold of one length to allow for two fronts and overlocked the sides.

I knew I’d want pockets so used the pattern piece from the jumpsuit to cut them with a straighter side seam to allow for having straight side seams in the skirt. At that point my brain wasn’t up to working out slanted side pockets. (about 10pm) I’m not a night owl and I still hadn’t packed.

Any hoo, I’ve digressed quite a lot. Having arrived and planted myself in a spot with my machine at the Sewing weekender , I got myself ready to sew. I put the pockets into the side seams and started to add the skirt to the top. I’d got two widths of the fabric. That’s effectively 3 meters. This was going to be a full skirt. Keeping the front flat until I came to the pleats on the top half would keep the fullness to the sides as with a wrap on the dress I didn’t want to double up. I then used my eye to pleat the rest of the fabric to fit the space. I used about 1″ (2.5cm) pleats until I ran out of fabric. I shiffled it about a bit until it was all used. I like to have the pleats turning towards the side seam so the centre back has a small box pleat to change direction.

Whilst trying the dress on roughly to check it was working I bumped in to Tara from Paper Theory. Small, #fangirl nervous bable moment as I was trying on over a #zadiejumpsuit. Tara graciously noted my jumpsuit and made a quick retreat. She gave an honest and very interesting talk at the weekender which just cemented what a lovely and genuine person she is. The fashion business is made of many facets.

But there was something about the dress that wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it. So, with all of those lovely sewing bods just a short hop away I ventured into the room to garner opinion. I was naturally greeted with smiles (sewing people really are the nicest) and asked what everyone else thought. One or two quizzical eyes raised and maid Marion was mentioned. I was happy with maid Marion as she was one of my childhood heroines but it wasn’t the look I was going for. Barbara of rocking stitch was on fit duty too, Was it the sleeves? I’ve put sleeves on this version as I’m more likely to wear it through the mid seasons. As I’m only just 5’4″ they were full length sleeves on me. We turned them to 3/4 length, much better. I’d gone for a longer length of skirt but once pinned to a mid length it seamed to balance better.

There is a LOT of skirt but I’m ok with that, the linen should soften up a bit with wash and wear. It turns out it’s also quite warm. Another bonus for working through the seasons. Overall I’m pleased with it. I think if I make another I’ll do a sleeveless one for summer with a flared skirt rather than pleats to give a more streamlined look. I also prefer the ribbon ties of my jumpsuit but finding the right green ribbon was impossible. It’ll get a lot of wear whilst I’m getting my wardrobe ready for winter.

Do you hack your patterns or keep to the main outfit? I have to admit I don’t hack that much but just occasionally you can see a pattern working in other ways. It makes it better value and way more versatile when working with your wardrobe.

Until next time lovelies x

Pattern storage

How do you store your patterns? Are they all neatly put away in a box? On display on a shelf? Filed in a cabinet? Left in a pile?

I thought I’d got it sussed. I have all of my general, big four stored in a plastic draw tower and boxes. Yes, I’ve got a lot but when you sew for a living it’s kind of an occupational hazard. As are random threads hanging off your clothes. That was until I got the indie pattern bug.

Oh the joy of owning a pattern within a few moments of clicking through and downloading. It’s instant gratification at its finest. I even find the occasional sticking session therapeutic now. Though if the pattern takes 2-3 A0 pages it’s more likely to be sent off. Life is short.

So I’ve tried A4 envelopes for storing patterns. This worked for some of my own drafted patterns and small section pdfs but the envelopes start to get a bit tired if the pattern’s used a lot. Plastic pockets work ok but then you have to store in a file, the amount of paper involved tends to break the holes and are no longer held quite so securely. I’ve started to use filing folders to store the patterns. These are hard wearing and you can get more than one pattern in if you find that the a particular company work for you.

I’d just printed out the Strathcona Henley by Thread theory when Creative industry offered me the chance to try out their pattern archive envelopes for a review. Perfect timing! I was already pushing my luck with the folder and the number of patterns it contained.

When they arrived I was pleasantly surprised at the weight of paper used to create them. It’s a nice mid weight, strong enough to hold things in but not so thick and stiff that it’ll take up too much room once filled. They’re about A4 in size with a side gusset and deep fold over tab which is scored to allow for the gusset to sit nicely. They looked very promising.

The strathcona is 35 pages and on the cusp of my sending off for print. Having stuck it all together I trimmed to size and began the fold. It fitted really nicely into the envelope and rather than use the self stick tab I folded it into the envelope. Perfect. The gussets opened just enough and the tab didn’t struggle to fit with the amount of paper inside.

using the pattern archive envelopes for pattern storage

The front of the envelope has space for you to make a note of the pattern inside and to draw or paste a pic of the pattern on the front. I doodled the t-shirt, it’s not bad for writing on as it’s a matt finish. I haven’t tried a sharpie on it yet but the paper is thick enough for it not to go through. There’s space for ‘maker notes’ which I used to note which size had been cut and any extra pattern notes I’d already noticed.

I’ve started to gather the patterns that need re-homing in new envelopes and those which have yet to be filed properly. These fit really nicely in my cutting table cubby for patterns in waiting and work well with my normal file system too. I suspect I might need another filing cabinet as I’m running out of shelf space, My Threads magazines have run out of space too so I think this may be the way I’m going with general storage.

I ought to also say that although the envelopes were gifted to me the thoughts are my own. I’m not good at the bull s**t. If you want good quality envelopes that are designed specifically for this purpose then these are for you. You may want to use them for all of your patterns or those that are going to be re-used to allow for heavy wear, this is how I shall use them. When I try a pattern that I know is going to be used A LOT, I need the container to work just as hard.

One day my studio will be all super tidy and organised. Maybe. My patterns are at least. If you’d like to try the envelopes then do click on the link https://www.creative-industry.co.uk/ They stock some wonderful sewing related goodies. It’s also nice to support a small independent business.

Until next time, I really must make the boy his t-shirt…Toodle-pip

I fell for Zadie, hook, line and sinker

Jump suits.  How do you feel about them?  I’ve never been a fan.  I think it’s the loo issue.  The thought of taking everything off to do the necessary just puts me off.  Well, that was until I saw Tara from Paper Theory wearing her jumpsuit last year.  It caught me, hook line and sinker.  When she mentioned she might release it as a pattern I was over joyed.  But wait, I don’t wear jump suits.  The temptation was too much.  I waited…and pounced when she released it earlier this year.  Zadie went viral within the sewing community and Instagram was ablaze with lots of fabulous versions.  I’ve became part of a trend, not something that I think has ever happened before.  I tend to steer clear if everyone else is wearing/making something.  I think that’s why it took me so long to make the Blackwood cardi Anyhoo, I digress.



The Zadie is a loose fitting jump suit that fastens at the waist with a tie and a wrap top. No buttons, zips or even elastic to tackle.  This went together so well.  I cut it out on one day and then over a couple of evenings made it up.  I was on a roll!  I used some linen that had been in my stash for years.  It had been used for table coverings and throws at shows for my other half with motorbike bits and engines on.  I checked for oil marks!  I think it was originally bought for a soft jacket but it never made it that far.  Thank goodness!  This was the perfect weight.  Soft enough to flow but weighty enough to hold it’s shape.  Yes, it will crease, it linen.  I didn’t have enough for the ties so I used some wide grosgrain ribbon.  These could have been shorter but I love a pretty ribbon tie.



I made a size 12 as it worked out so close to my measurements. Id seen the notes on the samples that the model was a d cup and it still worked so I left well alone.  It’s loose fitting which makes it easier to account for boob room. The only real difference is that I’m only just 5’4″ so I took up a deeper hem. About 2″ so that it sits just above my ankle.  When I first tried it on it seemed strange to have so much room in the trouser department but it feels fine once it’s finished and you’re wearing it. I could have shortened the top by 1/2 an inch but I like it slightly bloused so I left it. I’ve seen one or two notes since I made it about the depth of the trouser rise but if I’m honest,  unless you’re particularly petit, I’d keep the depth as is so that you can move freely.  You’ll find if you bring it up too much it risks cutting you in half when you try to sit down.


It’s been proven that you can gorge yourself on an afternoon tea with friends and still be comfy.    Worst case scenario is you loosen the ties slightly but this works well for foodie purposes.  I’ll be using this for many outings.

I’ve worn a top under for extra warmth, just a t-shirt to account for not putting the sleeves on.  I’m not sure it’ll ever make it to winter wear as I couldn’t be doing with removing the many layers to go to the loo but for summer this is perfect.  I still feel this is for civilised outings only, not for festivals or port-a-loo wrangling.


I looked through my stash and I’m debating on making a check one.  I have some beautiful cream and navy silk which has been waiting for the right use and I have a friends wedding coming up so unless anything else catches my eye I may have found my outfit.  There are so many different hacks for Zadie, I’m tempted to try the dress…Either way this has become an absolute #secretpyjama outfit.

I’d definitely recommend the Zadie and it works perfectly for this years #sewtogetherforsummer  instachallenge.  There are hundreds of options of different jumpsuits and the like out there so pop over and have a look, its a fun challenge where everyone is so supportive and keen to see what’s being made..







Building a wardrobe of blackwoods

Life has kept me busy for a while, alongside Crafty Clyde we took Norwich Sewcials to Norfolk makers festival with workshops, a stand and the launch of our new membership scheme. Click MEMBERSHIP to find out more. It’s been busy behind the scenes but we hope to bring you more sew days, trips and workshops in the future.  We now have a website as well as facebook and Instagram to keep you all up to date.

Now I’m back with a bounty of blackwoods.

I’m super-late to the Helens Closet Blackwood Cardigan but boy, does it live up to it’s reputation.

I love a cardigan.  Normally my go-to cardi shape is cropped and fitted.  Hello twin set.  I love a Cardi over a fine jumper.  A bit of a contrast to the Blackwood.  The long loose comfy cousin.

I’d bought some lovely jersey from Fabrics Galore a year or so ago, originally for a sweater dress but it felt right for a long cardigan.  I had a much loved ready to wear long cardi that I live in during the spring and summer.  I thought this was the perfect time to try for another so measured it to make sure I got the same length.  I’m a 36 bust so cut a medium and added 4″ (10cm) to the front and back and front band pieces.  I’m 5’4″ so it doesn’t take a lot to lengthen.

As I’d heard from CraftyClyde who’d made it before, all of the pieces went together like a dream.  I think it helped that the jersey I was using was relatively stable but the pieces matched together really well.

I left off the pockets as I wanted a clean line.   I made this towards the end of the summer as it was cooling off and found I started to live in it.  So comfy but I do find I try to pull it round me as the day cools off.  It’s not meant to meet, I’m just used to full coverage.

Fast forward a month or so to when I saw that fabric godmother had some knitted chunky cable in, I pounced.  Hello comfy cosy blackwood of my winter dreams.  I didn’t add any length to this one, I just made the long version of the pattern but I did go up a size to a large.  I wanted  a little more coverage.  The sleeves are quite fitted on the original pattern so I straightened them out a bit as I knew I’d be wearing heavier layers underneath.

Pockets!  I had a couple of ‘Oh pockets where art thou’ moments with my other Blackwood so didn’t even consider not adding them to this one.  I was aware that the cable would stretch out a bit though.  I decided to line them with a jersey just to support them a bit in wear.

Naturally it was no ordinary plain jersey, dragons get everywhere.  It also meant I could get a relatively square pocket without having to fiddle with the knit whilst topstitching  (I’m not a tacker)  nightmare averted.

I played with the pattern placement of this one to make the best of the cable.  It made it more interesting fitting the bands on as the cable doesn’t stretch equally but I’m quite pleased with the end result.  It will get lots of use over the next couple of months.  Sadly I probably won’t take it out so much as it would appear all of my winter coats are…jackets!  I love layering but having half a cardi sticking out the bottom would just plain annoy me.  Obviously I need to get on the coat making train.  Maybe next year, though I do have just the fabric in the stash…

I have to say this pattern is fabulous! I don’t think I’ll be stopping at two, maybe a short one next so that I can wear it out under my jackets.  It’s also just been extended in size range so if you weren’t sure it would work for you, Go, go, go!

Have you made the blackwood or do you have a go-to cardi pattern?  I’d love to hear about it, do drop me a line in the comments.



Joining a class.

Hello, Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you but December and Christmas flew by in a whirlwind of present sewing and food.  Yes, and the odd glass of wine too.  I have to admit I relaxed more over the few days after new year than during all of the celebrations.  Finally a few moments to breath and let the brain and if I’m honest, body, gather themselves.

As I start to consider my coming year, well, the first few months anyway.  I’m thinking about the classes coming up alongside the exciting things Crafty Clyde and I have coming up with Norwich Sewcials.

How I love to see returning students and discover what their next project might be or to meet new students and guide them through the mine field of patterns and technical lingo to begin their sewing journey.  It can be daunting going to a new class or turning up to a group where you don’t know anyone..  A new place, new people and what’s the tutor like?  These are all questions that go through the head at the beginning of any newbie in a class.  A couple of them go through mine too.

If you’re sitting on the fence about trying a class, and this could be anything from dressmaking to watercolour I thought I put down a few thoughts on grasping the nettle and going for it.

Is the skill a new one to you?  

Is this something you’ve tried before or are you completely new to the idea.  Maybe you’ve always fancied having a go and now feels right..  If it’s something new then a structured course will probably give you the most value.  It’ll go over the basics and help you pick up some helpful tips and tricks to ease you into more challenging projects.  Very often the equipment will be available if not provided so you don’t have to go out and stock up too much before you decide if it’s for you.  A structured course is also good if you want to learn a particular technique.  These can be intense but very informative.

Maybe you’ve sewn or tried something before, feel a bit rusty or just want someone to guide you through those tricky bits you’re never really happy with. You’ve built the stash and have the equipment. Just a tweek here or there in the way you might have been approaching something might be all it takes to get that smooth finish you’ve always wanted.  This is where a guided session would come in.  You’re not taught in the traditional sense.  The information is still there for you should you need it but not necessarily in regular scheduled shots of information. Sometimes all you need is confirmation that you’re doing it right.

How big is the class?

Now this can vary enormously.  For me, a smaller structured class is far better for both concentration and tutor time. when you’re working through specifics.  It’s quite difficult for everyone to be able to see what’s happening with a demonstration if you have a large crowd.  Unless of course, you have access to a camera and screen to film and display what’s happening.

In a guided class this is less of a stretch as not everyone will be as focused on the same demonstration but I still feel a smaller group is better for student-tutor engagement.  It’s far easier for a tutor to keep track of what everyone’s working on of they haven’t got to remember 15 different projects.

Never be afraid to ask for help.  The tutor may not be able to devote an entire class to you ( that’s for a 1-1 session) but no-one wants to see you stuck.  This is also another plus side to a small class.

How Long is the class?

The workshop/ class you may have looked at could be a day long or a weekly class over a run of weeks.  Either way it’s difficult to get your teeth into anything much under 2 hours.  Depending on whether you’re setting up with your own equipment or using everything supplied, consider the ten minutes it takes to set up and pack away at the beginning and end of the class.

Who is the Tutor?

Do you know who might be teaching the course?  If so, what do you know about them?  Are they qualified or experienced in their field.  Have you met them elsewhere or heard about their classes from a friend.  What sort of feel do they give?  That probably seems an odd thing to consider.  Are they generally relaxed and considered or do they give a stricter air.  Do they have a sense of humour?  Most of us do..  If they’re style of teaching doesn’t work for you then try someone else.  Everyone is different.

Most of all give it a go.

Grasp the nettle.  Take the plunge and give it a go.  You’ll meet new people all interested in the same subject. You’ll learn far more that just what’s in the course too.  It always amazes me the subjects covered when different people meet.   If in doubt, ask a friend if they’d like to join you.  It’s way less scary when your not on your own.

Don’t be afraid to Fail.  Nobody gets everything perfect first time.   You may find this a bit of a cliché but think of it as a journey rather than a quick hit.  Enjoy it for the process as well as gaining a new skill.  If you’re going down the sewing route then get to know your unpick.  You will never Not use this.

Pin this pic to give you a boost


I hope my musings have been helpful.  Lets get ready for a new adventure into something new.   What are you going to try?





Green Furry goodness

Today I thought I’d take you through my thought process of buying the fabric and getting round to making the thing.  Yes, it happens.  Mostly.

So normally when I buy fabric, if I’m with friends they also admire and encourage me to indulge in the most beautiful yardage.  When I bought my gorgeous green furry goodness, we were enjoying a lock-in at our local emporium Anglian Fashion Fabrics.

I fell in love at first sight and although we all loved it everyone said ” What would you make?”  I saw a jumper.  Warm, fluffy, soft and such a funky jumper. Oh yes this would be fabulous.

As I bundled it up and carried it to the counter my friends admired my bolt (where else could I use that phrase without further connotations) and then Jim Henson came up. Yes, I might well look like a muppet but I’ve never let anything like that stop me in my tracks before…maybe I should have once or twice.

Once home I perused my patterns to see if I had anything that would work or if I needed to indulge in the right pattern.  With the fur I felt it needed a raglan sleeve to make the most of the texture.  This cut most of my patterns out but the Hey June Lane Raglan was a good fit for me, it’s slightly shaped into the waist without being fitted and having used it a few times I knew it’d come together really easily.   I thought I wanted a cropped boxy jumper (I’d squared off the side seams) but when trialling in some fleece I decided on something a little more fitted and maaaybe a little longer. 

Reality Check- No make up and trying to see a black jumper while wearing dark jeans doesn’t make for a great photo.


Health and Safety note.

As with all furry/fluffy/velvety fabrics I wore a face mask whilst I was cutting and working with this.  The fibres are very fine and are very easy to breath in.  If you have any respiratory issues please use a mask.  Also, it gets EVERYWHERE.  Use a lint roller/ sticky tape and clean as you go to avoid it traveling around the house.



I went back to the original shaping.  I squared off the hem and left off the hood, I so missed a trick there.  I could have had ears and googly eyes galore.  Maybe next time…

I put side splits in, like those of the Toaster sweater so that the fabric didn’t have to stretch too much when I was sitting down or moving about to much.  Although this fur is on a knitted back it doesn’t have much stretch.  I used the ponte-roma I’d bought on the same evening to t-shirt hem the neck to give a nice smooth neckline.

Photo by @craftyclyde


Over all I’m quite pleased with the end result.  I’ve had lots of lovely comments when I’ve worn it or had it displayed and not so many muppet vibes.  I think I like shimmery mermaid best.

What do you think?  Muppet or Mermaid…



Photo @Crafty Clyde

Pin the above pic for later ^^^

Photo @CraftyClyde






Party Fabric shopping

As we come around to Norwich Sewcials Fabric shop lock-in at our local emporium I start to think about my needs and wants.  What do I NEED?  I look though the patterns and start to plan my makes.  I search through my stash to make sure I don’t already have it and try to pare pattern to fabric before I go.  This way I don’t over buy and I can make sure I have all that I need to finish a project.  It’s sooo frustrating getting half way through a project to find I’ve not got the right zip or interfacing in the studio.  I’m more than 5 minutes away from any sewing shop so this can seriously stall things.

I’m also reminded when talking to my students that choosing THE FABRIC for a project isn’t always clear.  In a recent class we spoke of evening dresses.  As we come towards party season the special patterns come out.  The patterns we’ve bought because we fell in love with them but weren’t quite sure when we’d get to wear them.  They tend to have a large range of fabrics on the back of the envelope that we don’t come across very often and techniques we don’t use everyday.


I’ve spoken about fabric shopping in Shopping for fabric addicts, it’s something that troubles everyone when choosing pattern and fabric to match.  It’s not always easy, there’s rarely a straight answer and there’s so much choice.  Party wear is an even bigger mine field.   Here’s a few ideas on what to think about when choosing pattern and fabric for an evening out.

  • What sort of event is it?  Black tie? cocktail? Themed?  This can help you with your pattern choice.  Gather them all together.  Don’t dismiss that TNT pattern that you know fits and works with your body.  You know the one, everyone always says how nice you look.  Even the other half has noticed.  Using a different fabric can bling up a pattern for a party.  If you’re used to working with jersey and have a favourite dress try it in a stretch velvet.  (Tack everything and take your time)


  • Comfort.  How long are you going to be wearing the outfit, are you going to be dancing the night away or eating a 3 course meal.  Now I know this sounds far too practical but trust me.  If you need to undo the zip the moment you get out of the public eye because it’s all juuust a bit too snug now, it’s worth a thought.  Don’t get me wrong, this outfit still needs to fit properly, nothing worse than constantly having to adjust or hoik a dress up because your strapless isn’t staying put.


  • Cop a feel.  Choosing the fabric.  Once you’ve narrowed your patterns down what are you going to use?  Check the back of the pattern, gather some ideas.  Are there layers to the dress?  Is it lined?  What sort of fabric do you like?  Lace, sequins, satin…I could go on.  I’m a textured girl, I like sequins or velvet.  What sort of texture do you like?  Smooth, pleated, velvet?  This is very much a personal thing and only something you can decide.  If you have layers then consider the weight of the fabrics to choose.

shopping for evening fabrics

  • The Fall of fabric.  How does it drape?  Do you need something that flows or fabric that holds it shape?  Pull a good metre of fabric off the bolt to see how it falls.  Gather it softly in your hand, does it fall into gentle folds or can you feel it fighting to stay straight.  Do you need it to hold it’s shape for a shift or to skim the body so that you can glide across the dance floor.


  • Colour.  Now we all need a little black dress but why not use a bit of colour.  Don’t be afraid to go for your favourite colour or that patterned fabric your eye keeps landing on.  We’re talking party here for goodness sake.  Naturally if you hate patterned fabrics and can’t quite bring yourself to go for the full on colour, use a beautiful wrap.  I’m not judging, I just like to see colour.  I feel it lifts people.


  • Get Sewcial.  Make fabric shopping an event in itself.   Take a friend, one that sews and is honest preferably.  If you’re both going to the same event, even better.  You can help each other choose.  Ask the shop assistant if you can’t see quite what you want or your still not sure.

How to choose fabric

  • Give yourself time.  Both in choosing the fabric and making up the outfit.  It’s really not so much fun if you’re still hemming half an hour before you leave.  Apparently it’s not just you that it stresses out.

So, I hope that my ramblings have helped.  Most of all love the fabric and choose a pattern that won’t frustrate you too much.  Challenge is good but consider your sanity.

Do let me know what you’re going to make,  I’ve got some fabulous hot pink stretch velvet to make into something….maybe a top?  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Toodle Pip x





Seasonal Sewing- Christmas!!!

Hello stranger I hear you  cry.  I’m back with more murmurings about fabric and life in the sewing lane.

I’ve started to muse seasonal stuff.  I don’t know about you but I try to put off the C word for as long as possible. As I’m getting older and having to admit to being a grown up I’ve come to realise that it can be easier to organize in advance.  That and it’s everywhere!  I can’t escape it.  If you can’t beat them, join them as they say.  It helps that the weather has now cooled off a bit.  I don’t like looking at Christmas stuff when I still fancy an ice-cream.


As I browsed a fabric web site, just because, I had the sudden thought that I could make gifts for Christmas.  This is not an excuse to buy more fabric. Honest.  I have nieces, a nephew that the smallest of which would love a soft snuggly hoody for the winter months.  A mine field just opened up.  I only occasionally make for Christmas and when I do I have to feel that it would go down well.  Last years Tilda doll and whale went down a storm but Tilda did not stay dressed for long.  (No need for that wardrobe I’d planned)

There are so many things to think about when making as a gift.  I thought it might be worth mulling over.

  • Do I have time?  Not just how long have I got but when does it need delivering?  Have I got the ‘spare’ time?  When am I actually going to do this?


  • Will it be appreciated?  Now this could be a sticky spot.  Will they like what you’re planning on making?  Consider the giftees taste before committing to a project.  You’re going to spend time and pour love into this gift, ensure that it’s something they’ll treasure or wear.  If it’s for a small person consider whoever’s doing the laundry- it’s easier if it’s washable.


  • Budget.  Another minefield, everyone is different but make one and stick to it.  It’s so easy to get carried away.   Baked beans are very nutritious but can get boring after a while.


  • Size- when we talk clothes for people this can become interesting.  When dealing with youngsters consider their age and how true they come up to size.  Are they tall?  Are they due a growth spurt? ( toddlers and teenagers alike are good at this one)  Do they wear snug fit or loose?  Go up if you’re not sure, they’ll grow into it.  For grown ups you can be a little more open generally.  Ask or if you’d like it to be secret, check on the size labels of jackets/ jumpers etc for a peek.  Obviously not when they’re wearing them.  They maybe over a chair, you might even be out shopping with them.  This makes it even better as you can see the sort of things they’re drawn to as well as the size they pick up or the shops they prefer.  Another clue as to whether they’ll want what you might make.


  • Make a thing.  You don’t have to make something to wear.  If it’s for a small person then a toy or bag go down just as well.  Throws, cushions or quilts are always lovely gifts.

  • If in doubt, don’t make.  I’ve stopped myself making once or twice due to realising that I’ve either not got the time or it’s not really going to mean quite as much to the recipient as it does to me.  Not everyone ‘gets’ it.  Save that time and buy them something beautiful that they’ll love with your budget.

If, after you’ve thought through all of this you still want to make for someone then I say Yay!  Go for it!  Enjoy the process of choosing the project, hunting out the fabric (is it already in the stash)  and giving yourself the time to do it.

I’m off to find hoody patterns and check on sizes.  A nice soft snuggly sweatshirt fleece in a funky print…  I may need to make some mince pies to get me in the mood.  Sherry anyone?

Will you be making for Christmas?  Let me know in the comments below…