Intimidated by a dress

hanami dress 1

For some reason I was nervous about sewing the Hanami dress that I was given by Perfect Pattern Parcel. It had been on my list of ‘things I’d like to make one day‘ for ages. But I wanted to gain a bit more experience before I took it on. I had seen other peoples creations and I wanted mine to be just as impressive.

I bought some stunning taffeta from Walthamstow market, it was the last 2 and a bit meters on the roll so I really couldn’t afford to make mistakes. The fabric reminded me of the something Vivienne Westwood might use (one of my favourite fashion designers). Or Jessie and James, who I am completely inspired by.

I just wasn’t sure if I was ready for the Hanami dress yet. It actually intimidated me like no other pattern has intimidated me before.

When I saw this dress on Pinterest, I completely fell in love with it (especially the pleats). If you click on the link and scroll down you can see the comment I made a couple of months ago. But last month, luck was on my side, only days after receiving the pattern, An from Straight Grain posted a tutorial on how to do three types of improvisational pleating. The ‘origami path’ remained my favourite.

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The pleating was surprisingly easy, but I messed up twice with the sizing. In the end I had to make my calculations 2cm wider in order for the bodice to be the correct size. But now I’m panicking just a little, hoping my fabric would last the distance.

Printing out the pattern wasn’t as straightforward as I hoped. Some of the pages were portrait and others were landscape, so when I printed them out in one go, some of the pattern was missing. I didn’t realise this until I started piecing them together and wondered why I was left with gaps. It was not the most obvious of pattern jigsaws to put together, but I got there in the end.

hanami dress 2

The bodice and the tulip sleeves came together really well and I began to relax. (Maybe a little too much.) When it came to attaching the skirt I cut out my fabric to the size specified. I stitched the side seams together and it was clear that the skirt was far too narrow. Darcy would have to walk like a geisha if I left it at that size.

Panic struck me once again as it dawned on me that I was slowly running out of fabric. I measured what I had left and fortunately I was able to add an extra 30 inches to the width. Hold up! 30 inches? that’s double what was indicated in the instructions. Erm! Should I have cut the fabric on the fold? Dammit! That was what I was suppose to have done. BIG FAIL!

With the correct length of fabric now cut I began to regain my composure. And composure is just what I need for the gathers that were to follow. I’d completed the gathers on the sleeves, but they were a sprint compared to the marathon ahead of me and I wasn’t sure I had the stamina for it.

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With a lot of care and concentration I managed to attach the gathered skirt to the bodice without any major problems. With a big exhale and a sigh of relief I was nearly done, home and dry. Just the buttons left to do.

hanami dress 4

I say ‘just the buttons’, but button holes fill me with dread. This could be the downfall of what was turning out to be quite an exquisite dress. Now I was about to cut holes in the fabric. One false snip and it would be ruined. I suddenly had a brainwave. I went to the cupboard to check the instructions for my sewing machine. You may be shocked to discover that I have never looked at the instructions before. Gasp! In the bag I found numerous extra feet that I never knew I had, including…. (wait for it)… a buttonhole foot. What’s more, I discovered the buttonhole lever which I never knew was hiding towards the back of my sewing machine. I am still amazed that I had never seen it before.

Finding the buttonhole foot made sewing the button holes effortless. I even sewed the buttons on by machine, something I had never considered doing before. I could kick myself for not finding out about this months ago. September Tunic, I’m coming after you. Bring it on!

hanami dress 6

Buttons attached I stood back to admire my handy work. My Hanami dress looks AMAZING and I couldn’t be more satisfied.

If you would like to try your hand at sewing the Hanami dress I suggest you head on over to Perfect Pattern Parcel.

You can get the Hanami dress pattern and also

Perfect Pattern Parcel #2

Perfect Pattern Parcel offer high-quality pdf sewing patterns by indie designers (independent designers). The funds raised from each Pattern Parcel sale goes to the charity Donors Choose.

I would love your feedback, advice and thoughts on my version of the Hanami dress, but…

If you were to ask me, I would say…


What did you learn from sewing the Hanami dress?

Take your time, don’t rush and DON’T BE AFRAID.

What new technique did you discover?

Understiching, the instructions in the PDF were not completely clear to me, so I referred to my trusted ‘sewing techniques‘ Pinterest board and it all made perfect sense.

What do you like most about the Hanami dress?

Everything, absolutely everything. I love everything about it.

What would you change?

I wouldn’t change anything about the dress, but I have changed how I feel about the Hanami pattern, I am no longer intimidated by it. I feel I may have gone up to that next level in my sewing ladder of accomplishment. And that feels so good.

Will you use the pattern again?

Oh yes, and I can’t wait. I would like to try a version in cotton next.

Always follow the instructions (unless you know what you’re doing)

I was thrilled when I got an email from Perfect Pattern Parcel asking me if I wanted to be part of the Parcel #2 blog tour.

Perfect Pattern Parcel offer high-quality pdf sewing patterns by indie designers (independent designers). The funds raised from each Pattern Parcel sale goes to the charity Donors Choose.

The unique thing about PPP is that you choose your price, but if you choose to pay $24 or more you will automatically be sent a Bonus Pattern! The Bonus Pattern for this Parcel is the Prefontaine Shorts by Made with Moxie. The other patterns are [drum roll]…..

perfect pattern parcel Two

What a fine list of indie designers, and some inspiring patterns.

Little ol’ me doing a blog tour, can you believe it?

So, there I was doing my ‘thang’, not even noticing if anyone was watching (I’m not one to check my stats, it’s like using the bathroom scales, sometimes you’re just better off not knowing). Everyone else seemed to be at the party and I was enjoying it from the side. Then, unexpectedly I was approached and asked to dance by one of the kool kats. A wave of adrenalin came rushing over me and I became giddy with excitement.

So here I am at the party and what a great time I’ve been having. Pattern Parcel #2 includes sewing patterns for a little girl’s essential spring wardrobe. Perfect!

First up I decided to check out the Celestial Tee by Figgy’s. An easy one to start with, then ease my way through the others. How wrong was I? The pattern looked simple but it took some concentration and I learnt the hard way.

blue stripes celestial tee

Look at that gaping neckband and those wonky tucks!

Yep, I forgot to mark the tucks from the pattern and yep I used the wrong interfacing for the neckband. I’ll put that down to impatience, I was stupidly eager to start and clearly I didn’t follow the instructions properly. I mean if you were following a recipe for hot dogs you wouldn’t just put your pet dog in a bun because that’s all you had. So I should never have used the ridiculously stiff interfacing that I had rather than the soft stretchy knit interfacing that was indicated in the instructions.

side seams close up

Moving swiftly on. Did you see how well me side seams match up? Huh! huh! Thank you. (Erm! I won’t show you the other side.)

I made size 6-7 for Darcy, but lengthened it by 2.5cm. She’s an extremely tall little girl. Is that right? Can you be tall and little? I was glad the pattern had lengthen lines, I just know I would have added the length to the bottom otherwise.

It’s so annoying having to make a garment again because you made a mistake (or 2) the first time, and even though the tissue thin blue stripe version is not perfect, Darcy will still wear it. But my eyes will always focus on that dodgy neckband and those awful tucks. So of course I’ve made another one. And this time I used a heavenly, silver metallic cotton jersey. I paid close attention to the instructions and my Celestial tee turned out a dream.

celestial tee1

Just look at the tucks on this baby! And the (optional)  top stitching on the shoulders. I just love the detail. And the neckband. Look at it, it sits round the neck (as it should). Whoop! whoop!

detail shots celestial tee1


celestial tee 4

To get your hands on this splendid pattern and 4 (or 5) others, head on over to and name the amount you are willing to pay. In doing so, not only will you have some adorable new  patterns, you will be helping the charity Donors Choose and supporting some super talented indie designers.

Perfect Pattern Parcel #2

celestial tee 3

In the meantime you and your little one can play around with this fun Perfect Pattern Parcel paper doll. Colour her in, dress her up or use it to help decide which fabric to go for.

I would love your feedback, advice and thoughts on my version of Figgy’s Celestial Tee, but….

If you were to ask me, I would say…


What did you learn from sewing the Celestial tee?

Always follow the instructions. Unless of course you know what you’re doing.

What new technique did you discover?

Attaching the neckband was a revelation. It was attached before sewing up the side seam. I love this method, I wish I’d known it when I made the Candy Stripe top.

What do you like most about the Celestial tee?

The beautiful curve of the high front and the low back and the unexpected top stitching on the shoulders.

celestial tee side shotback view celestial tee

What would you change?

The pattern is great, but I would have loved a version without the tucks. It would have been even quicker to sew and to be honest I would have preferred it. Though I’m glad I tried it and have now ‘mastered it’.

Will you use the pattern again?

Yes, definitely, it’s quick to sew and I just love the result. Next time I think I’ll try to a version without the tucks though. Hopefully I’ll be able to alter the pattern accordingly.

celestial tee 5

That’s it, I’m going home now, join me at the Hanami dress party tomorrow and I’ll show you my next hot move. It’s called ‘improvisational pleating’. And here’s a little taster.


The big bubble party dress

bubble dress 1

Ok, so I didn’t get Darcy’s party dress finished in time for the party, but as all the other girls went to the party in their school uniform (how totally uncool), Darcy would have been overdressed so it didn’t matter. Phew!

This bubble dress has turned out to be one of my favourite items I’ve sewn so far. I just love its simplicity and its bounce. Another great pattern from Heidi and Finn. Though the pattern says “great for those just starting to sew”, I think it was a little tricky and you need to be quite accurate to get a neat professional finish.

The fit was perfect on Darcy, a slim bodice and good length for someone as tall as she is. I was lucky on this one that I didn’t have to make any adjustments.

bubble dress2bubble dress 3

I used a beautiful grey linen that I bought from a shop in Walthamstow Market. Silly me didn’t check how much fabric I needed before I began cutting out the pattern. So I had to go back and get some more, fortunately they still had some left.

When I got home and laid the fabric out I was quite disappointed to find that the sales assistant had cut the fabric pretty much precisely 1.5m on the dot, not a mm over what I asked for. I expect to get a bit extra, say 5cm or so extra fabric than I asked for, just to be on the safe side, incase it’s not cut straight, or just to be generous and to keep me, the customer happy. Perhaps I’m asking too much, I would be interested to know what you think the correct etiquette is when it comes to cutting fabric. I felt quite cheated.

For the lining I used a bright pink cotton which is a stunning contrast to the grey. You can see subtle hints of it around the neckline, arms and at the back where it fastens with a soft, blue grey button.

bubble dress_hanging

As it happens Darcy has another party coming up. Guess what she’ll be wearing. 

bubble dress4

Darcy loves her new dress, it’s the kind of dress where you can’t help but want to, jump, twist, twirl, spin, hop, bounce…

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Should children wear grey?

Should children wear grey?

You may have gathered by now, that I really like grey. I like  it for myself, I like it for my children and I like for my home. I know not everyone would choose to dress their children in grey, but I think it’s stylish and guess what, I’m even partial to a little black.

This little blue grey tunic was adapted from the heidiandfinn girlie little blouse pattern, it’s the kind of thing that I would wear myself, in fact that’s what I’ll do, I’ll make one for myself (grey or black?).

Cute comfy coat

grey swing coat

I thought it was going to be quite difficult making a coat, I’ve never ventured this far before. But it was surprisingly easy. Not a bit harder than anything else I’ve made, but I feel I’ve raised my game a little with this one.

I diverted from the sewing pattern a tad by adding a large pink button and making the belt unattached from the coat.
You wouldn’t believe how long it took me to choose that button. If you look closely you can see the stitching makes an arrow shape. A cute little touch!

The fabric was an lovely soft wool that I got for a bargain price (£6 for 2 meters) because it had a few marks on it, but I was able to avoid them when I cut out the pattern.

For the lining I used the same fabric that I used for Scouts Little dot Ninja Pants.

I’m going to try a jacket with a zip next. Watch this space!