Hello everyone! I was unbelievably excited to see the Dior exhibition at The V&A museum this weekend. I took my Aunt and cousin and just knew I’d tear up when I saw everything… I’m oddly emotional about the idea of all that design and talent gathered together. See a few personal highlights on my Instagram account.
Tea dresses are the ultimate wardrobe staple for me so it’s no surprise I reach for the same few patterns when I want to show off a great fabric. Feminine, timeless and modest they suit my workwear wardrobe as much as my out of office outfits. I love going out for lunch and on day trips in vintage style clothes as much as I like vintage glam evening wear! During the work day I don’t get to pile on the vintage make up or hair but I like to wear retro inspired clothes to the office as they make me feel turned out and confident. There’s no actual dress code in my office so sometimes wearing a shirtwaist dress or a circle skirt while everyone is wearing jeans makes me a point of difference but it doesn’t put me off. I honestly enjoy getting dressed every morning… I hope you do too?
So as you will have guessed, I’ve made this pattern before (three times now but only twice blogged). This is the Simple Sew Annabelle dress which I’ve always made in drapey crepe fabric. This time I thought I’d try something a little more structured! I treated myself to this “cotton spandex mix” from Lindy Bop who have just started selling fabric. They have a small collection of prints on two bases; scuba and “crepe de chine”. The latter arrived and was stretchy and relatively well structured so I think it’s a creative interpretation of what crepe de chine fabric is. It still gathers like a dream and has a lovely shine to it so please don’t think it’s not a quality fabric. I chose the magpie print and the bookcase print (as an editor I had to).
The blue is so vibrant and each of the magpies are depicted chasing different jewels and treats like rings, charm bracelets and gems. I live in a new build house from the early 2000s which was a long empty plot of land originally. When the builders turned over all the soil ready to build on, magpies came in the droves to find shiny bits that were unearthed and even now the houses are built they can’t help return to the spot. On a daily basis I see between 5-10 magpies around my street so I am constantly singing THIS nursery rhyme. And I ALWAYS say hello to a lonely magpie to make sure he’s not on his own.
You buy the material in either 1m or 3m lengths so have a think what you’d prefer and maybe partner up with someone to share if you The fabric is printed on a white base so when you stretch it you can slightly see white beneath. It’s also surprisingly closely woven so I recommend a very sharp fine needle to avoid snagging. You may want to line the fabric in case it sticks to tights but it’s totally opaque so makes a really lovely garment. I’m really pleased with the dress and the fabric and I’m looking forward to making my bookcase print dress! I think it would look fun as a Simplicity 1419 or a Selkie Patterns London dress don’t you?
Do you have days when life is so ridiculous you just have to laugh? On mornings when we have photoshoots for Love Sewing I’m responsible for getting all the outfits ready, steaming them, checking for loose threads, prepping all the shoes and jewellery and so on. It’s pretty manic and Renata likes to tease me by capturing shots like this from last month.
In the afternoons we have the favourite part of my job, the reader photoshoots where I basically get to hang out with a fellow seamstress as they get pampered and help them have some fun in front of the camera. Every woman who has taken part in our shoots has left me feeling wowed by their talent, warmed by their big hearts and re-energized by their enjoyment of the day. Often there’s a small window to take pics of my makes before home time and this Thursday I took photos of this dress.
It’s the Annabelle dress from Simple Sew patterns, a beautiful take on the tea dress that I have made once before here if you want to see my size choices and adjustments. For me it’s the perfect throw on dress when you want to look smart and comfy. This version perfectly works with red or blue accessories and can be dressed up or down depending on the day.
I love this dress because of its easy fit, with flattering under bust gathers and swaying silhouette. Crepe de chine always feels very slimming and luxurious. What I didn’t expect was for someone to ask me when I was due while wearing it that very morning! “This is my pot belly lady… not a baby.”
This is especially comical to me as I’ve recently lost 1.5 stone in weight. I’m not saying it’s such a noticeable amount that everyone on the street should be high-fiving me over, but I feel pretty darn slender at the moment. Clearly I need to work on my posture if I’m sticking my tummy out that much hahah.
This dress makes me so happy because of those kissy lips! I picked up a 1.5m remnant of the kissy crepe de chine at Fabworks mill shop. I’ve also seen some in Holm Sewn’s online shop but there isn’t much left so hurry! I used a navy invisible zip at the side seam and navy thread rather than red.
The dress requires a bit of stitching in the ditch around the facings and waist which I always mess up a little. I never write down the perfect setting for my needle position. It’s pretty invisible this time so I don’t sweat it. I’m really happy with the weight of interfacing I chose though. Not going too heavy on lightweight fabrics is quite tricky when you have limited options but well worth finding something lightweight but stable.
You might also remember this fabric from Rachel Pinheiro’s epic Holly jumpsuit. And I love this version of Annabelle on the 64 Dresses blog. If you’ve been put off trying a Simple Sew pattern in the past this is one I would heartily recommend. Now I’m off to play in my sewing room today. Have a lovely weekend!!
I don’t often post about work on here but this time I couldn’t NOT.
Meet Annabelle, the free pattern gift that comes with the latest issue of Love Sewing magazine. Named after a dear friend’s new baby girl. A perk of the job is when we bandy names around for patterns and you can throw in personal favourites.
This dress is soooo awesome. There’s a great neckline yoke that connects to raglan sleeves and a gathered bodice. The gathered skirt balances it off perfectly and a side seam zip keeps everything neat. Look at me doing my envelope impression.
Simple Sew sizing is generally a funny fit for me, mostly around the bust. Here I cut a size 10 but graded out to a size 12 waist. I used the size 8 gather marks and I removed 1.5cm of bodice length. It fits almost perfectly though I think I will add 0.5cm of length back in and should have gone up a smidgen more at the waist.
My fabric is a fantastic quality moss crepe from textile centre’s ebay shop. I love how the print is a bit like guitar plectrums. I think that it was £3.99 a metre or something like that?
The range of colours in the print really helps when picking shoes and cardigans hahah (my standard train of thought). I hoarded this fabric for 2 years for an BHL Anna dress but I’m so pleased I used it here. Here’s a flat snap with the flash on and colours adjusted to see the style lines a little more clearly!
I have another version planned for my Les Fleurs periwinkle rayon from Cotton + Steel (picked up at Miss Matatabi). Plus this graphic silk print from M. Rosenberg & Son at the Knitting and Stitching show that I’ve also been hoarding since seeing Karen in a similar-ish print at the Minerva blogger day and daydreaming about owning a dress of similar awesomeness. Ok ok it’s not similar at all but when I bought it away from any phone signal to quickly check, it gave me good vibes so I had to buy it. Gosh that meetup was a while ago – 2014!
Oh and here’s me when I went to interview the costume team behind Strictly Come Dancing. Best day ever let me tell you. Well I do tell you, in the same issue as Annabelle you get to hear me waffle on for four pages about the design process, construction methods, fitting techniques, backstage goss.
There are some ace versions of Annabelle popping up on the internet (Elle of Sew Positivity was quick off the mark making TWO versions – sateen and Christmas themed) so I hope you’ll give this dress a try.
I’ll leave you with one last pic of me just to make sure you’re well and truly sick of my face hehe. This is a quick snap from the night of the office party. Denise is my Head Art Editor for Love Sewing and we got ready together while having a cheeky glass of prosecco or three. I wore my vintage 70s long sleeved maxi dress refashion with huge Kurt Geiger platforms (huge for me). It’s the dress I got in 2005 to wear to my University Grad Ball. I removed the sleeves and added the gathered midi skirt for the James Milner charity ball in 2013. I can honestly say every time I wear it I have a right good knees up!
Tag me in your Christmas dress pictures I want to see them all!! And if you’re making Annabelle I want to see those two so hook me up with links.
Like many of us, the Covid situation threw me through a loop for a long time. I was home all the time, working from the spare room, I didn’t get out of my pyjamas many days, and barely wore makeup. And crafting? That was non-existent. In a way I’d lost my sense of identity – I wasn’t wearing or making home sewn clothes. But things are slowly starting to get better. It started with house viewings! Yes I had to wear gloves and masks, not touch anything and keep away from the estate agent as a I moved around but I had a reason to get dressed and get out the house. Then I went to an arm knitting blanket workshop at Fabricate.
I’d already seen on social media how dedicated Philippa was being about safety and going to the shop didn’t disappoint; she had socially distant workbenches, it was a zero contact tutorial, hand sanitiser a-plenty and much more. It was liberating to get a taste of what life used to be like but with a new safety-first slant. This week I’m going for a beach side break in a private cottage to celebrate my wedding anniversary and I’m taking one of my prettiest dresses to wear for dinner.
This dress has it’s own story. At the beginning of the year I was contacted by Lindybop about doing a sponsored blog post. I received 3m of fabric and in exchange I was to write a guest blog post and do social media promotion when the dress was ready.
This stunning china blue porcelain print fabric features delicate florals on a spandex cotton base which they called crepe de chine. You can read my earlier comments on how it isn’t really ‘crepe de chine’ on my magpie dress blog post. But before I could write the blog post, Lindybop went into administration. They kindly messaged me and said to keep the fabric and wished me well.
It’s rather sad, but the dress turned out so nicely that I’d like to still share it, even though it’s bittersweet. I made the McCall’s 5969 from Love Sewing mag 65 last year, one of my favourite issues (now out of stock). By merging View D with its modest wrap bodice and long sleeves with View B’s full circle skirt and sash tie, this dress becomes delightfully vintage with the right fabric.
I shared my toile of the bodice on Instagram earlier in the year – thought you’d appreciate the flash of tummy above. A brief reminder of my measurements: 36″ A bust, 33″ waist, 45″ hips. I chose a size 10 in the upper body/bust/armholes, 12 waist and 14 waist/hips. I then slimmed the sleeve width down a little and ultimately, shortened their length. I also moved the bust darts slightly and added 2″ to the skirt hem.
I’m not risking any mishaps with this wrap… There are multiple press stud fasteners used to close the dress at each side seam and the neckline. The sash belt is then purely decorative. The mix of facings and my own use of bias binding for the skirt and sleeve hems feels complementary.
This feels luxurious to wear because of the fabric. Plus it feels well drafted, as that sleeve head is lovely and the bodice has just enough ease for everyday movement without looking saggy. PLUS the swish of the circle skirt is, of course, fabulous. But that means it is also fabric hungry, requiring me to use almost all of my 3m.
Wrap dresses used to make me so upset when I tried them on as everyone said they were universally flattering no matter your shape. But when I tried them on in shops all I saw was this lumpy figure with overemphasised stomach and hips, and no bust. Then I tried the Eve wrap dress with some success. But a wrap dress with a circle skirt? This is glorious for my body shape aka the human butternut squash.