Two Maternity Dresses

There is a clue here, I am going to be a grandparent! It’s my first grandchild, and I am very excited. But , back to the sewing.

My daughter in law needed a couple of dresses to wear so I decided to make up a couple of patterns that I had used before, adapting where necessary for the growing bump.

I decided on two options – the Named Kielo wrap dress and the Style Arc Montana. i had seen the former worn for maternity with the ties wrapped around above the bump on a couple of blogs. The Montana is a loose fit to which i had previously added ties to pull it in a bit.

First step was to try my existing dresses on her to get an idea as to whether the styles suited, and what adjustments might be required. Thankfully the conclusion was very few! I had already read that adjusting the hem / length at the front to accommodate the bump would be needed, but apart from this, I made no adjustments.

So here are the results. The Kielo- which will be perfectly wearable in the future too. Shown on Ariel , so no bump!

And the Montana

Itch to Stitch Bussan top

I have a number of Itch to Stitch patterns – they are always well drafted,have clear instructions which include all the construction details ( eg using stay tape or interfacing on shoulders for stretch fabric) and often have intersting details which aren’t so high fashion as to date really quickly. Every time Kennis ( the designer) releases a new pattern she also publishes multiple tester pictures and links which really helps show the garment on multiple body types and executed in a range of colours and fabrics. The Uvita top – a simple long sleeved top with an add on that expands the options – is one of my TNT patterns which has been made up numerous times.

The Bussan top is not a new pattern – its been sitting in my purchased pattern file for some time.

I thought the sleeves in particular were an interesting feature with the pleated sleeve head, deep cuffs and inserted deeply into the front bodice.

So I have finally got round to making it whilst in Covid isolation with the idea that I can take it on holiday skiing in March to wear in the evening when eating in the restaurant.

Fabric has come from the stash again- well I couldnt go out shopping and I really do need to reduce the volume.

The fabric was bought on line in July 2020. It was described as a stretchy knit fabric suitable for, amongst other things, Sweatshirts ( my intended make). Most of the fabrics I have bought from this vendor have been really good, but this was a ” miss” when it arrived. It is a crepe like stretchy fabric that is really quite lightweight – certainly not suitable for a sweatshirt. The other fabrics in the order were lovely ( morracain crepe, viscose) . I decided feed back to them that the description was not vey accurate – as much to get it changed for other on line buyers. They were really good about it and refunded the money for this piece of fabric so full marks for customer service.

The fabric has sat in the stash since – until I decided to try using it for the Bussan top as its stretchy, has some warmth for a winter blouse and enough structure to hold the pleats.

I worked hard to match the lines!

The only change I made was to alter the neckline. The pattern is a scoop neck , but I liked the turtle neck on my recent Simple Sew dress, so decided this type of neckline would work well for a winter top. It is created very simply with a long strip of fabric folded in half and overlocked around the neckline.

It’s always satisfying when a problem bit of fabric transforms into something wearable . And the pattern is a success- I’m pretty sure another one will be made in the future.

Anyone got any ideas how the sleeves could be adapted for a short sleeved version for warmer weather?

Misusu Patterns Cuddle Cardigan

This is my first make using a pattern from Misusu Patterns. I first heard of them in a post by sewingalacarte who I have been following for some time. She posted her Stereo Sweater and I loved the pattern with the interesting colour blocking design ( yes, I bought the pattern) .

Since then 2 further patterns have caught my eye, and have been purchased – the Shift Tee and this make, the Cuddle Cardigan.

This cardigan was put on my #makenine2022 list – so I’m off to a good start!

I wanted to use contrast fabric, and had 2 pieces in my stash which I had picked up in the Abakhans buy by weight area in 2019 .

And it was a good job I had supplies in stock because I think I need to rename this my Covid Cuddle Cardigan. It has been made entirely during isolation after testing positive ( along with another garment thats almost finished).

The pattern is easy to follow. Half way through my make sewingalacarte posted her Cuddle Cardigan – a coincidence. In her write up she noted that she had sized down – which resulted in a check of my cardigan fit. I had cut out the smallest size, after checking the size chart, but a quick tack together revealed that the sizing was indeed generous. Whilst I don’t mind the cardigan itself being generous ( it is describes as a ” boyfriend style over sized cardigan ”) the band at the bottom was too baggy. To deal with this I took the side seams in and reduced the length of the band. This has created a fit that I am happier with without losing the style of the garment.

I particularly like a number of the features of this design . The incorporated pockets

The contrast band that runs down the sleeves and across the back.

And the way the front pattern band crosses over at the back.

The large buttons are also a design feature. Mine have come from my button box ( buttons passed on from my mum, mother in law and added to occasionally by me). These are definitely old. The biggest issue was that my automatic button holer couldn’t cope with the size or fabric. in the end, after some experimenting I have created the buttonholes myself using standard machine stitches. Not perfect, and a chore when you have got used to the automatic buttonholes but they seem to work ok!

The final cuddle cardigan .

i must remember to change out of my slippers next time i take photos!

There are lots more versions on instagram / the vendors site with lots of different combinations of fabrics . Each one looks different and individual, so there is plenty of scope for creativity with this pattern.

Itch to Stitch Uvita top

Another quick make using a TNT from Itch to Stitch – the Uvita top.

The choice of pattern was driven by the fabric – a knit border print that has been in my stash since 2018 and cost me £2.28

I needed a pattern that allowed border placement. I decided to vary the top slightly by using the collar from the add on pack.

There is not much to say about the make – its a straight size 0 with no adjustments, but careful placement of the border pattern and attempt to line up the pattern at the seams.

Velvet dress

Having completed some pattern alterations and a bodice toile this post covers progressing the velvet dress itself.

The bodice was made up following the toile with some adjustments as the velvet itself seemed much stretchier than the jersey requiring a level of sizing down.

The next puzzle was how to create the overlay draping band at front. much trial and error with draping ensued. My first attempt was too wide and bulky

Experimenting with draping
IiExperimenting……definitely not right!

I reduced the bulk by using a stretch lining fabric on the underside , and recut the band .

In the end I cut the front drape on the fold, with a significantly reduced width at the centre. the centre was gathered up towards the bust using a double row of gathering stitches.


The back bodice is gathered in to the simple skirt.

The sleeves were ruched using a length of elastic stretched and stitched to the sides using. there are a number of tutorials on how to do this on the internet, such as this this one

In order to have decorative buttons on the sleeves and bodice that matched., the only option was to create fabric covered buttons. Reading up on this I found plenty of comments that indicated that trying to cover two part bought buttons with velvet could be a problem due to the fabric thickness. I however found a tutorial on creating buttons for re enactment costuming , which often use bulky fabrics. There was the added bonus that I could utilise random buttons from my button box which only needed to be the same size. The buttons have turned out really well. they were created using a circle of fabric Larger than the button, gathered around the edge and pulled tight over the button before stitching back and forth across the back of the button to pull the fabric tight.


The final dress has the main features of the original rtw – without the need wear a cami underneath!

It has been worn for Christmas and afternoon tea out – and there is a dinner planned next week.

Christmas – complete with new slippers
Afternoon Tea

Velvet dress Stage 1 – inspiration & pattern drafting

Anyone else notice how many velvet dresses there were around towards the end of last year? My friend Mary was looking for a dress for a wedding and found a stunning 40s style dress by Nancy Mac on the internet – and it became a challenge. Could I create a similar dress for myself?

I spent a lot of time browsing patterns, and came to the conclusion that there was nothing that matched exactly, so whatever i did would need to be a pattern hack Anumber of patterns made the shortlist based on design elements that matched the Nancy Mac dress. I knew I needed a high / empire line waistline and a deep V neck ( but higher than the rtw!) . The collar is also a real feature – but I couldnt really find a match for that- and the draping underneath the bust line completly eluded me! lastly the sleeves have a slightly gathered/ puffed up sleeve head, and there are decorative buttons and ruching on the sleeve sides.

Looking at patterns for possible hacks

In the end I decided to use a combination of two Burda patterns which gave me the underbust seam and the sleeves and adjust these for the additional design elements.

The easiest decision was actually the fabric – its a stretch teal velvet from Pound fabrics. My favourite colour and at under £5 a metre it didn’t feel like a high risk if the whole thing didn’t work out.

There was a lot of trial and error in the process of making this dress.

My first step was to redraft the top part of the bodice pattern to add a band along the v neck to extend around to the back and create a stand up collar. this was simply a straight band folded in half. the equivalent width was taken from the v of the bodice ( allowing for seams) .
I also added in width at the waist for the back bodice to create the gathering

I pinned the trial pattern pieces to my mannequin first to get an idea of hiw they worked and to adjust them.

Back bodice

The next stage was to trial the draft and fit. i did this by making a toile using some leftover jersey fabric ( ie with stretch). After a considerable amount of adjusting, I managed to get something I was happy with and was able to transfer back to the drafted pattern pieces.

Jersey toile

At this stage the under bust seam was not gathered- but the general fit seemed good enough to proceed to cutting out in my velvet fabric.

Sewing Retreat Dress No2

And here is the second dress I made on the Thirkelow Sewing Retreat.

This is the Simple Sew Bella dress, a free pattern with Love Sewing magazine subscription. I will admit , this was not a pattern that jumped out at me and said ”make me” when I got it. However, having found a piece of fabric in my stash, it fitted the pattern requirements.

The fabric seems to have escaped being entered in my fabric app – which means I can’t remember where I got it from . I think it was a cheap buy though ( maybe Pound a Metre) and is a light to medium weight poly, with some stretch.

I wanted to make a winter dress ( sleeves, some warmth) , but , again , wasn’t quite sure about the fabric colour – it felt a little bit too light / pale compared to my usual wardrobe choices but it did have a turquoise in it . The result was that I put together a pattern and a fabric which were both under question…

The pattern itself was really straightforward. The combination of fabric with give and an overlocker made this quick to put together and fit. I didn’t bother with a toile, but made my usual adjustment shortening the pattern above the waist, and then used the fish eye darts to adjust the fit of the dress.

The result was a quick make, which I was surprised to find I really liked. Sometimes its good to go with choices that aren’t your usual ones !

The sewing was followed by a couple of days walking. The weather was ideal, and the scenery was stunning. I just couldn’t wear the dresses!!!!

Sewing Retreat Dress

This is the first of two dresses I made at a sewing retreat held in the Peak District in October.

The retreat was held at Thirkelow Cottage near Buxton. I had spotted it some time ago on Facebook . They are held regularly and give the opportunity to sew ( but no tuition) . the environment is lovely.

A beautiful barn with5 bedrooms ( all with ensuites), a huge sewing room with stunning views, and hosted by Esther who was not only very sociable , but caters for everyone with delicious food and cakes!

I really can’t speak highly enough of the catering – Esther coped with vegan, vegetarian and gluten free AND there was a bottomless chocolate treats drawer.

So on to the sewing.

I had precut 3 dresses, but ended up completing 2 as I spent some time helping my friend Mary with altering a pattern for her.

The first dress was the Named Patterns Solina dress from Breaking the Pattern. I had this book for Christmas a couple of years ago, but this is my first make.

The fabric was an impulse buy from Pound A Metre at £6.75 for 3 metres- its my favourite colour, I couldn’t resist.

I made very few alterations to the pattern – my usual reduction in bodice length, and shortening the overall length ( I am only just over 5’ 2”)

The instructions in the book are very good, making construction straightforward.

I am so pleased with the results. I really love this dress! its comfortable to wear, and feels stylish. I even had one of the employees at The V&A compliment me on it when waiting to go into the Alice exhibition for my birthday outing.

Colour co ordinated to the exhibition
Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea

The 3 days at the retreat was extended to include some walking in the area. a perfect combination of sewing , walking and time with a great friend.

#Make Nine 2021 and 2022

I have participated in this challenge for the last few years – and admit have never yet completed it.

So no surprise to see that my #makenine2021 didn’t get all boxes ticked either!

Only 3 items completed – and one of those ( the Papercut Stacker jacket) hasn’t made it to the blog yet.

So, am I doing this again in 2022? Yes! I enjoy the planning, and enjoying looking back to see how plans change over the year.

Notably the 2021 nine were predominantly winter based makes- this probably reflects my mindset when compiling the grid in January. My actual makes for 2021 included many more summer makes than planned, largely influenced by actually going on holiday to Greece.

For 2022 I have repeated a few of the makes intended for 2021.( 3 items).

New items include a Moneta dress ( one of my go to patterns for the English summer), a cardigan ( Misusu Cuddle cardigan), the shelby dress which I acquired last year but didn’t get around to making, and 2 fabrics from the stash. The Shelby dress will also be made from stash fabric – i just haven’t decided which yet.

I printed out the Cuddle cardigan pattern today-so I am hopeful at least one item will get completed !

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen! 

By the time this is published, Christmas will be over, and the presents will have been given.

My herd of reindeer will have gone to new homes!

I have had a mini production line during November / December producing little reindeer . The pattern has a slightly Nordic feel to the design, and is available here on the internet.

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”