New Look 6145 Checked Shift Dress

As part of the Simplicity challenge, this pattern attracted me to it because of the lovely sleeves in option A. Its a simple idea, but not often included in patterns. Sleeves with pleats which form part of the shape. Wonderful.

To complete this challenge I decided to stick with the design from the pattern, option A, the knee length shift with the short pleated sleeves. However, I much prefer lined dresses, especially when the body is made from wool or a wool-mix as it really helps it glide over the body. I therefore decided to fully line the body of the dress. The body of the dress was made from a checked woolmix, black with turquoise checks, with the sleeves in a matching turquoise crepe.

The goal was to make a one off original work dress which could help me remain memorable during networking meetings. Fast forwarding to the completed dress, the objective was reached, I made the dress, and wore it for a long day’s meeting to London. The below photo was taken after 12 hours on the go! It was an early start, so I wanted an outfit that could cope with the early start, long journey and still look good. This pattern, and dress, stood up to the challenge.

Dress in London

So, back to the design and making process.

The first modification to the printed pattern was to carry out an FBA.

This was done by using the slash and spread method. As the dress didn’t have waist darts, I then slightly shaped the dress at the waist on the side seam. The pattern is quite a loose fitting shift dress, so even with the adjusted waist I kept the loose fitting style.

To confirm that the modifications had been made correctly I decided to make the lining for the dress body first (this meant it could act as a muslin if modifications were required). The muslin showed that the bust darts weren’t quite in the correct place, so I marked the new position onto the pattern pieces. They were only minor modifications, so the lining was left as it was.

Next was the challenge of cutting out the main body of the dress. Given the checked fabric for the body I wanted to make sure that the shoulder seams matched, as well as the side seams. For the back seam I opted to match the shoulders then ensure that the cross checks matched. The zip and seam are therefore not exactly pattern matched (but match on the horizontal). They are however even, so the check is only slightly narrower for that block.

It’s really important when working with a check to make sure the crossing lines are matched across the seam. I find it really helpful to use the lines of the check to pin the seams, pinning on every line. This is particularly difficult when inserting the zip. To help line things up, I added pins sticking out from each of the lines of the check (after sewing the zip onto one side. This meant I could then line up on the other side of the zip and pin carefully.


The inserted zip and be seen below. Notice that the upper edge doesn’t look 100% even. This is because these are the raw edges, and they will be evened out when the lining is inserted. This has been caused by minor pattern matching when cutting out the fabric, which has been corrected when carefully matching the plaid when inserting the zip.

Inserted concealed zip with raw edges on the upper seam
Inserted concealed zip with raw edges on the upper seam

In keeping with the pleats on the sleeves, I decided to sew the darts externally.

Once the body of the dress was completed, the sleeves were cut from a matching turquoise crepe fabric.

To add a little more unique features to the dress, one my machine’s decorative stiches was used for the heam. This was sewn using a contrast thread (black) so that the stitching was distinctive on the lower edge of the sleeves.

Sleeve detail
Sleeve details, pleats and decorative stitching


Once the dress was fully made I inserted the lining (made earlier as a muslin). First sewing the neckline, and understitching it, then sewing it by hand at the sleeves. This was done by ironing in the seam of the lining, then slip stitching to the body of the dress. This results in a clean seam line on the inside of the dress.

The final stage was to hand sew the heam of the main dress. Having over-locked the fabric I folded up the seam, ironing and pinning it in place. Then the heam was handstiched using a criss cross stitch, making sure that a double stich/knot was added every few inches. This helps prevent the whole heam falling down if you catch your heam in the future when wearing it.

In keeping with the one off original dress, I’ve paired it here with some designer earings that a local designer made. The earings were designed using inspiration from the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle, are made from the most incredibly light acrylic making them easy to wear. She makes a fantastic range of unique statement pieces of jewellery such as the necklaces below, to look at the full range check our her website:

barbed coil necklaces
Unique barbed coils necklaces: photo courtesy of Kate Gorman

Overall, I was pleased with the final dress and its received a number of compliments when I’ve worn it to work.

The only challenge with it, is ironing the sleeves without a crease line. I love those pleats, but they are not the easiest to iron. To make things easier I made a fabric stuffed ironing sleeve.

sleeve roll
Sleeve roll

This was made using a rectangle of curtain fabric which was sewed into a tube, with darts to make one end nicely rounded. It was then stuffed with fabric scraps. A great addition to help press or iron seams.

In addition to the meeting in London, I’ve also worn the dress recently to a meeting at the other end of the country in Stirling. Simply love knowing that no-one else will turn up wearing the same outfit.



Sewing Room Update

Following on from my previous post on the sewing room floor, I’ve finally got my storage solution sorted out. Thanks must go to my husband who helped with build the units.

It’s great to finally have a good solution to store the hordes of fabric that I’ve gathered over the years, not to mention the growing selection of patterns.

So here’s the finished sewing room, which also doubles as my office. Lots of room for fabric, and patterns.


Simplicity 1364 Summer Top

As part of the Simplicity Bloggers challenge I decided to enter the Best Vintage Make category. This was based upon the Simplicity 1364 pattern , which was supplied free of charge to entrants. One of the rules of the challenge was that bloggers could modify the pattern in any way they liked. So, my aim was to modify option […]

Finished flooring

Update on the new sewing room floor. After a weekend of emptying the room it was ready to get the tiles down.

The first stage was the self levelling concrete I posted earlier in the week. Then it was the tiles themselves.

Important things went back in first, table and machines. Need to get on with my Simplicity blogger dress.


Hopefully the tiles will make it easier to sweep up threads.

An added bonus is being able to use the tiles to help with pattern adjustments!  See below where I used the tiles to help draw lines on as part of doing a FBA to the dress.


Think I’ll do some sewing before buying and making the storage units.

Good Friday, in the clouds

A cold and misty Good Friday inspired me to make a spring jumper.

Roseberry Topping in the clouds
Roseberry Topping in the clouds

I had been working on a summer top, as part of the simplicity challenge,  but it was simply too cold for that!

The weather here in Yorkshire has been hit and miss recently. One day this week we had everything from sun to rain to wind to snow. So it’s still jumper weather here.

As we’re heading hopefully to warmer days I decided to modify the pattern,  vogue V8699, by removing the collar and making a separate neck scarf. This way I can wear it on colder days with the neck scarf, and on warmer days as a scoop neck jumper.


As the picture hints, the clouds cleared and we then had great weather for the rest of the Easter weekend. Must sew a jumper again when I want the weather to change!

The hardest part of the top was making sure that I didn’t end up with two circles in the wrong place.

The additional scarf worked well too – the close up can be seen below. These are really simple to make (especially if you have a server/overlocker). The basic steps are:

  1. cut a rectangle wide enough to sit comfortably around your neck, and twice the height you want the scarf to end up
  2. Sew into a tube, with a straight stitch
  3. Then fold tube in half, wrong sides together
  4. Using the overlocker set to a rolled seam stitch sew the two open edges together stretching the fabric as it stitches to create a lettuce effect on the edge.


I’ve made lots of these scarves this winter. A great stash buster. I’ve made some as presents, and also sold some as part of supporting my son’s fundraising. The only thing to remember is that they work best with stretch fabric (so jersey or wool). They will work with non-stretch fabric but you’ll need to ensure you can slide the scarf over your head.


Think Sewing – Think Electronics

This was my Valentine’s day project which has taken a while to blog about, but I thought it was one of my sewing projects that others may be interested in.

Think Sewing – Think Electronics and mix them together.

Imagine being able to sew an electronic circuit into your sewing. Well you can. If you buy conductive thread you can sew small scale, low power electronics into your projects and literally make them light up when you want!


How it’s done:

Firstly, some basic electrical circuit theory. We need a power source, a light and a way to turn it on and off.


However, for a small sewing project you don’t want a big AAA battery and set of cables – this is where conductive thread and small scale circuit boards come in.


The next stage is to prepare your felt heart (or whatever else you are sewing) so that you can add the circuit into it. For the heart I used three layers of felt, and sewed the circuit onto the middle layer. Use a running stitch to link the elements of your circuit together, taking care not to cross the stitching from different links (which will cause a short circuit).

I wanted my magnetic switch to be activated from the back of the heart, but the light shine on the front, so I made sure that the switch was attached to the back of the felt, with the other elements on the front.

Finally, the three hearts were sewn together leaving a small opening close to the battery holder, so that the battery can be changed in the future.

Once the heart was complete, the light can be triggered by bringing a magnet close to the magnetic switch on the rear of the heart.

To add to the sewing fun, I decided to put a miniature magnet inside a fabric doll. The message on my heart was “You make my heart glow”, so it made sense to me that the trigger for the glow should be a doll of my husband!

I followed a fabric doll pattern, and made a small doll with an outfit. Just before attaching the head, I put the small magnet inside the body (close to the normal heart position).

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This way when the doll cuddles the heart, the heart glows!


The only downside was my family thought the doll looked like

a Voodoo doll, …. watch out for those pins!


Patterns arrived

I’m planning to enter the Simplicity competition that is currently open, where they are searching for the Simplicity Star Sewist.

First stage is complete as the two patterns for the categories I plan to enter have arrived. 🙂



I’ve also been doing some thinking on exactly what I might make with them, and from what fabric.

Let the creativity begin….



V8886 Dress with colour blocking

Last year I said I’d make this pattern again – and I’ve finally got round to it! This time I made it in a light wool mix crepe, and used colour blocking to brighten up a work dress.


Having made the pattern before I was happy with the shape and fit. This time I lined the dress body, although left the sleeves unlined.

This was the first time I’ve used a wool crepe. It won’t be the last. I found it a little tricky to work with as the fabric stretches and moves. That said. The effect is that it can stretch on the body, making it lovely and comfy.

Having just finished this dress, I smiled when I opened this month’s Sew Today magazine, (whilst wearing my winter top version). This pattern featured twice in the magazine. I think it’s a great base pattern for princess seamed tops/dresses which you can then adapt to suit your creativity. Below you can see two varieties that I’ve made.

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Update on the travel capsule




My mixture of outfits, worked well and I managed to pack both cycling and non-cycling clothes into a hand-baggage only suitcase!

Sewn Capsule included:

  • Patterned Light weight Green loose fitting trousers
  • Patterned Light weight Green loose fitting top (matching pattern to the trousers)
  • Blue lightly  patterned jersey fabric top
  • Blue lightly patterned jersey trousers (same fabric as top)
  • Blue High wicking technical fabric top
  • Cream micro-fleece wrap (which was sewn into a sleeping bag shape for the dessert camp)
  • Three buff style neckscarves

Ready to wear items:

  • Two thermal tops
  • Pink t shift
  • Technical light weight jacket
  • Pink and blue Technical light weight skirt

With these items I managed to create a different outfit to wear to dinner each night after a day’s cycling mixing and matching the coloured thermal tops under the lighter weight tops I’d sewn.


The weather was colder than I’d expected, and in the evenings layers really were required – some people opted to wear their jackets for dinner!