Simplicity Star Sewist Contest Entry


Here it is!  My entry for the Simplicity Star Sewist contest.  Although I am pretty new to blogging I was excited to see a sewing contest just for bloggers so I wrote off for the pattern.

I decided to enter the Best Dressmaking category and soon New Look 6145 arrived in the post.  It is a simple shift dress which leaves you with lots of options to customize and embellish.

dartThe first thing I did was adjust the pattern for fit.  I usually need to make a short back adjustment, so I took the back up a little and increased the side bust dart in the front to keep the side length the same on both front and back pieces.  That done, I decided to make a few changes to the design.

Instead of the vent in the back I put in a box pleat instead.  I also changed the collar, drafting a two piece pointed version.  I then embellished the front of the dress with embroidery and raised appliqué.  Finally, instead of using facings on the dress I decided to line the dress with a light cotton.

The dress is liningmade in a cream cotton/linen blend and lined with a light white cotton.

The lining was done with a great technique I learned last year where you draw the armhole lining and dress first out the front hem, sewing from under arm seam to shoulder seam, and then repeat pulling the lining and dress out the back hem.  This results in a lovely finish with no raw edges anywhere.  Everything is contained within the lining.

The embellishment on the front of the dress is done with two different techniques.  The flower centre, petals and thin leaves are embroidered in satin stitch, Romanian stitch and double knot stitch.  Then the larger leaves were appliquéd onto the front, slit in the back and filled with wadding to create a raised surface.


back pleat


The small box pleat at the back is created with a scrap of vintage fabric that a friend gave me while sorting out her stash in order to move house!  It is a lovely loose weave cotton with a spring-like print.




So there it is!  Fully lined, embellished shift dress which I plan to wear this weekend on a vintage hunting trip down to Brighton!

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Easter weekend in Brighton


Easter at the seaside!  Rain, clouds, chilly winds, and hanging at the arcade on the pier! The photo above was actually taken last time I went – the weather didn’t even allow for a decent shot this time.

Still I love Brighton – always have since my first trip there age 10.  Then it was all about playing games on the pier, running on the beach, and eating candy floss.  Well to be honest – it is mostly about that now!  However, I have since found so much more to love here, and I find new spots every time I go.

A vintage lover’s dream – Brighton is chock full of retro boutiques, and lovely shops selling vintage inspired pieces.  But there are some traps to avoid as well.

This trip I found a new gem I hadn’t been to before.  The Brighton Flea Market is on Upper St James’ street over in an area called Kemptown.  I LOVED it, two floors of individual sellers’ stalls overflowing with treats and goodies from times gone by.  I got a fabulous vintage enamel teapot, which is absolutely huge and I have been looking for one every since I saw an example in the Pre Fab museum in Catford.  The teapot dates to the 1940’s and at some point has been painted with W.I. on it, no doubt it was used for copious cups of tea at local meetings.  I also got three Enid Blyton Adventure books, a real throw back to my childhood.

Another gem is Pretty Eccentric – basically this feels like someone took all the things I love and put them into one perfectly formed shop.  The merchandise is new, not vintage, but everything is inspired by the ’20s, ’30s and 40’s, including delectable lace dresses, beautiful little hats and headpieces, and decadent jewels.  I totally splurged and bought a stunning green lace 30’s style dress.

Check out their collections here:  (I bought the Jasmine dress!)

I have spent many happy hours in Snoopers Paradise in the North Laine.  It was hard to walk away this time without a mid-century table, but I managed it.  I ventured upstairs this trip and found a wonderful spread of vintage, and re-made pieces by local artists and makers.  Loved the tin lamps!

IMO – best breakfast in Brighton – The New Cafe on the seafront.  Try the hash and eggs, or the smashed avocado on sourdough – seriously.

So where to skip?  Well – I might upset some people here, but I don’t love Beyond Retro these days.  I have found a few gems in the past, but I find their stock at the moment to be much too focused on the 1980’s which just isn’t my thing having lived through it the first time.  Also the prices seem to have risen substantially in the last few years, and I just don’t see the value there.  Especially when everything I found that was pre-1970 was stained in some way.  Disappointing.

Also – I read some reviews saying the lounge at the Hilton Metropole was very good – well yes, if you like your £12 cocktail accompanied by terrible service, and Ultimate Fighting on the bar television.  Not really my scene.

Ok – over to you – who else can share a Brighton gem?  Where do you go when you hit the seaside?


Clashing Pattern Shift Dress

After spending a lot of time on more complicated projects, I felt the urge to sew up something quick and easy.  With spring in the air, my monthly Prima magazine came through the door with this easy-peasy colour block dress pattern.DSC04934

The fabrics are two that I found at my local Rolls and Rems last year, and they are fun, quirky patterns that I just felt needed to go together.

DSC04933The pattern made up quickly, although when I make it again I think I will make the bottom block a little shorter, and let the top fabric come down lower.  Currently the fabric change occurs right at the widest part of my hips and despite the loose fit I think it makes me look a little boxy.   What do you think?  Would that problem be fixed by bringing the top block longer down, or the bottom block further up?



And then of course there is the British weather to contend with!  Spring may be in the air but it hasn’t hit the ground yet, and the day after I finished this was decidedly chilly.  But what to put with this dress?  In the end I went for spotty merlot coloured tights, which I claim, pick up a tiny bit of merlot present in the dress (and yes I am referring to the colour – not an unfortunate sewing room/drinking incident!).  Not sure if you can see that in the photo, but trust me – it’s there!


So next time – change the blocking, perhaps add a little more shaping, and I’ll be using two fabrics with some pinks and greens in.  Now – come on weather!


What are you sewing for spring?


Hi! Welcome to my blog!

Ok – here we go!

I am brand new to blogging, but I am really looking forward to diving into the creative online community.  First thing I do in the morning is check out my blog feed and see what everyone I follow has been up to and creating.  I hope that this blog becomes a source of info, inspiration, and ideas for others as well.

So who am I?  I have been sewing and creating for my whole life, my first sewing machine came into my possession at age 5.  Ok so it was a hand crank one made for small hands – but it kicked off a lifelong obsession with fabric and creating.

I also adore vintage, and started collecting it when I was in my teens (we just called it second hand back then).  I have some real gems that I have sourced from family members, vintage fairs, boot sales, and recycling bins (literally!).  My collection includes clothing, jewellery, hats, shoes and household and beauty items.  I like to learn as much as possible about my items and I would like to share my finds on the blog as well.

I find inspiration in the past, in the city I love, in the colours and sights of nature.

Thanks for coming along with me!  I can’t wait to connect with readers and hear your thoughts on my posts!