Monthly Archives: May 2014

By Hand London Make – The Feel Good Flora Dress

Hi Everyone, I’m really excited with what I have to show you this week! I haven’t sewn anything for myself for awhile, and it’s well overdue I readdress that balance! We can’t have my son out dressing his mother each day of the week can we? That just wouldn’t do.

It’s been a pretty hard week or so for me, and one of those times when you just feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. I’m not usually a down beat person, so i’ve done my best to keep smiling. Two saving graces have been that the sun has been out and i’ve got to spend lots of time taking walks with Evan and pottering about in my garden. Here is a little teacup garden I made which makes me happy each time I look at it:
2014-05-15 16.53.05

On our sunny walks we have been to lots of parks and I’ve realised that one is never to old to play on children’s play equipment, zip wires being a personal favourite, followed by a good climbing frame. This comes with the exception of any roundabout or ride that spins round in circles, that’s a surefire way of reminding yourself that actually you’re not as young as you feel, and are going to end up in a crumpled heap covered in vomit if you’re not careful. At what age and why do we lose our ability to spin round and round in circles and not feel sick?

The second saving grace is that I’ve had my Flora dress to concentrate on. The fabric I chose is so happy, summery and perfect, it’s really lifted my spirits to work with it. Having something to do in the evenings and take your mind off troubles really helps when you’re down. Sewing is a great way of clearing the mind, and when making something you are going to wear you can even try to visualise yourself in it, feeling good, feeling happy, your future self in a better place. I’ve been trying to manifest all of this positivity in to each stitch, and perhaps for this reason it came together almost effortlessly. Very therapeutic indeed!

I followed the By Hand London sewalong. Unfortunately I didn’t get the dress finished in time to enter it in to the competition, but I did manage to vote on the other entrants. My personal fave was by Lou Weez,  whose simple red polka version I thought was gorgeous, and looked great on her. The prize however went to Shauna, with an equally stunning dress, so well done Shauna !!!

The Flora Dress pattern comes with various options, a faux wrap sleeveless bodice, or a fitted tank bodice. I decided the faux wrap would suit my fuller bust. There was also an option to dip the hem, and why wouldn’t you? I think it’s a lovely feature of the pattern, and is one of the things I like most about Flora.

The sewalong instructions were brilliant, and really easy to follow. I did find working out what size I needed to cut a bit troublesome though. It seems like my body shape is a bit all over the place, measuring a 16 at the waist, a 14 at the bust and a 12 at the hips! Usually on the high-street I fit in to a UK12, so it came as a bit of shock to find out my real sizing! I decided to cut a size 16, and adjust if I needed to.

I made a muslin first which came out huge, and I found it difficult to gauge if I needed to sew up a different size, or make any adjustments. I decided it was best to stick with the size 16 and I could make smaller if needed. I did decide to make a gapey back fix though, removing 3cm from each side of the back bodice, as the muslin version of the bodice was really baggy on me there. I could have smuggled a few kittens in all that extra fabric. It was the right choice, and I’m fairly happy with the final fit. I do think perhaps I could have got away with a size 14. It feels a little roomy and I think is even more noticeable when I study the photos. I can see the fit on the bodice is not totally spot on. Still, it’s comfortable, and I have a dress that fits, so all is not lost. I still need practice in achieving the perfect fit, and to learn more about my body shape and gain confidence in switching sizes at the bust/waist and hips. It’ all changed so much since having Evan!

Look, it's like a tent under here!

Look, it’s like a tent under here!

The Flora dress pattern asks for 60″ wide fabric, of which the full width is used to create a fantastically full and flowing skirt. The fabric I ordered was advertised as 60″, but it actually still wasn’t wide enough, so when I cut out the skirt pieces I had to sew on an extra little patch at the corners to get the full width. I made sure I pattern matched, so it’s hardly noticeable, especially given the skirts fullness when on, but it is worth noting that you find the right width of fabric if you don’t want to run into similar problems. There is an option to cut the skirt using 45″ wide material, but because of the directional print on my fabric this wouldn’t have worked.

Looking pretty happy here, the feel good vibes are working!

Looking pretty happy here, the feel good vibes are working!

My fabric choice was inspired by Heather B’s Painterly Poppy Dress, which I drooled over when she blogged about it back in April. I really liked the print and this one reminded me of it, with all it’s floral stripiness. What do you think Heather? It’s not quite on a par with the poppy fabric, but it makes for a great Flora Dress!!

Having a twirl, not easy as my high heels were sinking in to the wet grass

Having a twirl, not easy as my high heels were sinking in to the wet grass

With my skirt material quite pattern heavy, I decided I wanted to save it for the skirt only, opting for a plain green polycotton for the bodice. I found almost an exact match at B&M Fabrics in Leeds Market, so big up yourselves B&M for having such a great selection of colours. The girl who served me was lovely too, and reminded me that I wouldn’t need to wash it if I didn’t want to, because of the polyester content it doesn’t shrink.  Leeds market shopping trips are the best. I chose green by the way because it matches my eyes, and I think it’s my favourite colour, plus there is a massive green gap in the dress section of my wardrobe.

I lined the dress with a medium weight plain white cotton. It worked well, especially in the bodice, but I think it makes the skirt a little heavy, giving the dress a formal, dressy feel. I do have plans to wear this dress to a wedding though, so it’s all good. I’ll just have to make another Flora version to dress down! I’d like a light, floaty version to mooch about in on hot days. If I do this I probably won’t line the skirt. I do regret using white for the lining colour though. It shows at the neckline on the bodice, which stupidly bothers me, and in retrospect would have been better in a matching colour. I don’t mind it so much on the skirt though.

Here is a shot from the back, showing off my first invisible zip insertion. Not bad eh?? If I do say so myself. It’s a shame I didn’t get the waistline to match up perfectly, but I was happy enough to not unpick it and put it in again.

I’m not sure how flattering the box pleats are on the back of the skirt. I’ve not got a huge derrière, but with the bulk of the lining in the mix I feel a bit like one of those dolls you place on top of toilet rolls in the bathroom.
loocover Does anyone have one of these or even know what I’m talking about?? Why would you want a creepy looking doll watching whilst you do your business? it’s just plain pointless, ‘oh no, my toilet roll is dusty!!!’ I suppose the last thing a lady wants is a dusty arse. Anyways… I’ve not actually worn it out yet, so I’ve no idea if this will put me off wearing it or not?

I’ve not taken many photos of myself for this blog yet, so have no idea of poses that work or a signature style. I might just stick a flower in my mouth and hope for the best. Who’d have thought it, it worked, it worked! It actually looks kinda cute ;)

As always attentive readers, I would love to hear what you think, especially advice on the fit and how I could improve it. Love to you all xxx

Toddler shirt for boys

Isn’t spring great? Everything is teeming with life and growth as the earth awakes from it’s hibernation. A sign of spring for me is when the frogs start to appear in the pond at work. I sometimes spot newts as well, they like to hide out under the pond lining where it is nice and cool. Very sensible in the sun, newts.

In celebration of my amphibian friends, I present to you the Toddler shirt for boys – in Cloud 9′s Ed Emberleys Frog print and green scribble, both of which are from the happy drawing collection. These frogs don’t look very happy do they? Perhaps they have been farmed in a French frog leg factory? Or maybe there are no princesses around to offer kisses, and release them from evil spells? Either-way, maybe if I sew them in to a super duper shirt it might put a smile on those froggie faces? Let’s see …


No smiles from the frogs here, but Evan’s cheeky grin makes up for it.

Boys Shirt

This shirt is a pattern I have been working on and will be releasing shortly as a free download in 3 sizes, age 2-3, 3-4 and 4-5 years. It’s a short sleeved casual shirt, featuring a western style yoke at the back, reinforced collar and button panel, and coordinating sleeves.

cowboy yoke

I’m really happy with how it turned out. It was the first project I’ve used my serger on, so all my seams are mega – tidy and professional looking. It makes a massive difference to the overall finish of the garment, and kept the seam bulk down. The cowboy style yoke was fiddly to match up with the bottom back panel, but it turned out fine, and looked even better when pressed.

I used medium weight interfacing for the collar and button panel, to provide added structure and strength. I like the overall balance of the shirt, the collar meets in the middle (although I chose not to add a top button, because what toddler wants a tight fitting garment?), and the hem is level all the way round. The fit is good, and it looks great on. So all in all I’d say it’s a success.


Fault wise I think the buttons are perhaps a little big for a typical shirt, so I’d choose smaller next time. I also wanted the sleeves to be turn ups, but when turned you can see the inside arm seam, so I need to find a way of making this tidier. I also think I gave the arms a little too much ease, when they should have less on a child’s shirt pattern, so I’ll reduce this slightly next time.

toddler boy shirt

So, what’s with the headphones? We went to a friends wedding over the bank holiday weekend, and it was amazing! They had a huge marquee in a farmers field near York, and a loud dub/reggae sound system which played a really eclectic mix. These are Evan’s ear protectors, or ‘Blippers’ as he likes to call them. We were packing to go when I took these photos and Evan really wanted to wear them. I thought they might add to the frogginess somehow?? The wedding was brilliant, we danced, camped in a tent, and sat round a bonfire drinking rum and ginger beer. Evan tried his hardest to steal a dance with some of the little girls there, but he was rebuffed. Oh well son, there’s a life lesson in there somewhere. Congratulations Mr and Mrs Crawford-Davies, you make an awesome couple and know how to put on a great party. Can we do it all again?

If anyone would like to test this pattern for me please get in touch. I’d love to get some feedback on it from the sewing community. This is going to be my second pattern release, so I’m still fairly new to testing and will welcome all the help I can get. Plus who can resist the chance to make this cute little number?

Vintage upcycled aprons

Second to sewing, I love cooking. I dream of having a big farmhouse kitchen, with a large wooden table, pots and pans hanging from the ceiling, an aga to cook in and a huge Welsh dresser displaying all my vegan cookbooks, fresh cut flowers and vintage finds. Scarily, I just realised I am describing my mums house to you, minus the vegan part… I can rest assured I’m not a complete carbon copy! (Mum I love you if you’re reading this) :)
These aprons I present to you are a manifestation of my domestic goddess dream. An ulterior realm where I spend all day cooking and mixing exotic cocktails. In reality I don’t really use aprons, as having a toddler around most of my clothes get covered in mud/jam/porridge/chocolate and usually a mix of all four. My aprons are too pretty to be treated with such disrespect.

Mini Apron 2

The half length ruffle apron

I made most of these aprons back in November, to sell at local craft fairs. Is it cheating a bit to put old makes on your blog? I didn’t start this blog until March this year, but really wanted to feature my aprons. I worked hard on them on the run up to Christmas (thank goodness for online shopping!) and they look great as a collection. In fact I’d go as far as to say that it is sewing these aprons that inspired me to start this blog. Documenting my makes enables me to keep a part of my projects with me, that I decide to give away or sell. Bye bye my pretties! I hope you get to live out your domestic fantasies.

Mini Apron Bow

Finished with a big oversized bow

All of these aprons are upcycled from different fabrics I have collected either from car boot sales or charity shops. Most of them had previous lives as duvet covers, cushion covers, curtains or old items of clothing. One of them is even upcycled from something upcycled! Now that’s thrifty and almost entering the realms of fabric reincarnation. I wonder if I could reach sewing Nirvana?

Floral Gathering Apron

Floral Gathering Apron

The most fun part of making the aprons is choosing which fabrics coordinate well together. I love mixing up floral prints with coordinating bold solids.

Cute Ruffle Apron

Cute Ruffle Apron

I also used some of the fabrics to make my handmade tags. Nifty huh! I got to pink away whilst the other half came in handy with his precision gluing techniques.

Blue Gathering Apron

I used three patterns to make these aprons, all of which you can download online for free!

Mini Apron

The ruffle pattern apron is cute and girlie and makes a knee length mini apron that looks a lot like a skirt when it’s on. It’s a fantastic simple pattern, mainly made up of lots of rectangles of different sizes. They are very quick to make and sewing all the ruffles is really fun. I’ve made well in to double figures of this pattern, and now I’ve got used to my overlocker they are even faster to do.

Visit the One more Moore blog to get the Ruffle Apron Pattern.

Green Ruffle Apron

Green Ruffle Apron

I loved the half length ruffle apron, but I also wanted to make a full length version, for optimal clothing protection! This Ruffle Apron Tutorial seemed to fit the bill. Again, really simple and quick to make, and actually I think my favourite design of all three. A perfect mix of practicality, prettiness and it looks great on.

Another Ruffled Apron

Another Ruffled Apron

The third pattern I used was the Gathering Apron Tutorial from Reformation Acres. How could I not make this ingenious design that is half apron, half carrying pouch. It will come in handy when my imaginary self harvests the apples from my fruitful orchard. (Does an overhanging apple tree from next door count??) I think so! Seriously though I loved making this pattern, and people who visited my craft stall were well impressed when I showed them it’s kangaroo like pouch capabilities. I found it a little tricky to do the waistband on the pattern, the instructions weren’t quite clear how to fold it over and hide all seams. It was also quite a few layers to topstitch through. I think I did it differently for all of the three versions I made, but apart from that it’s an easy to follow pattern and looks stunning when finished. How gorgeous is that gathered top!

Floral Gathered Apron

Showing gathered pouch

Showing Gathering at waist

Another kangaroo pouch!

For more apron patterns see my Apron Sewing Pattern board on Pinterest.