Tag Archives: quilting cotton

Oliver+s Book Report Dress and leggings – KCW Fall 2013

Book Report Dress - title image

Guess what guys?  It’s my birthday today and I’ve been given a strict order from my family that I will NOT spend all evening on the computer writing this post.  Jeez, what kind of family is that, wanting to spend time with me and all?!?!  With gifts and dinner being prepared for me (cuttlefish with capers and harissa followed by a celeriac and mushroom torte, in case you’re wondering…oh, and cupcakes…big ones filled with dulce de leche….and some divine dessert wine we picked up this weekend in Germany) I couldn’t protest too much.

book report dress - back view at bug house

So, let’s got on with it.  This is a straight-up all-girl, ultra-useful Autumn outfit.  The dress is Oliver+s’s Book Report Dress and the leggings are from Go To Patterns.  I feel a bit lame and unhelpful by saying this but both these items sewed up without any hitches (apart from a minor sewing machine error – skipped stitches and the top thread occasionally breaking…any thoughts on a cause?!).  I didn’t even alter or change a single thing.  It was such a treat to be in Liesl’s good hands while sewing that I decided to just follow the instructions and not tax my brain too much on alterations.  Plus these patterns are pretty much spot-on so why mess with a good thing, right?

book report dress - action 2

Book Report Dress

book report dress - action

This dress is rated as two scissors.  All other dresses I’ve made from Oliver+s have been three scissors and I really could tell a difference.  This one just came together so easily without any hiccups but without sacrificing any of the subtle details, professional finishes and overall style that we’ve all come to expect from Oliver+s.  To be honest, the most annoying part of this project was step one – making and sewing the button loops.  I don’t know why I find this process so tedious.  I even tried to use a tube turner which is a long skinny thing you put through a tube after you sew it right sides together.  It’s meant to turn the whole tube right side out but I can never get it to work.  Has anyone had any success with one of these?  In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, it looks like this:

The black fabric is from The Village Haberdashery.  The mustard yellow is Kona cotton from my local fabric shop.

I sewed a size 6 for my 5.75 year old.  I knew it would come out big (some of her measurements put her in size 4) but I have an awful habit of making things too small so I was fine with a bit of growing room.

book report dress - neckline button detail

Overall, I do like the dress but I can’t say it’s one of my favourite pieces ever.  For me, the jury’s out on the shirt hem.  My favourite features are the hidden pockets along the front horizontal seam, the contrast yoke in the back and the button opening along the neckline.

book report dress - pocket detail

Go To Leggings

This is the second time I’ve made these leggings from Go To Patterns.  You can read about the first pair here.   With only two pattern pieces to work with you can sew these in an evening and be done in time to catch the news with a cup of tea.  Again, I made no changes or alterations – aren’t I boring today?!

book report dress - back

The petrol blue jersey is from Kitschy Coo and it really is a lovely colour – I’m wondering if I have enough left to make a pair for myself.  I had the size 5 pattern piece cut out so used that but just made it slightly bigger when cutting out the fabric because the first pair are already getting small and I was too lazy to trace the size 6.  This worked ok.

I’m being called for dinner so I’ll leave you to sip my champagne and enjoy!

book report dress - cuff detail

Realistically I will get one more KCW item sewn.  Let’s hope I can get it up before Sunday.

And, as Margot’s expression tells us, I think we’re finished here.

book report dress - final

Thanks for reading,
Laura x

Death of a Geranium

Help wanted!!  What started out as this…geranium dress - fawnhas ended up like this…
Torn geranium dress - sad MargotWe’ve had our first sewing casualty of the season.  Margot wore her (favourite!) geranium dress on a school trip and came home with this.

Torn geranium dress - detail

It makes me sad too, but, hey, she’s a kid and being a kid is a tough (and sometimes rough) job – these things happen.  She said she was having fun when it was torn (something about rolling down a grassy hill) so how can I be upset about that?!  I would, however, like to fix this but my mending skills are virtually non-existent.

Torn geranium dress - sad Margot 2Does anyone have any suggestions as to how (if?) this can be repaired.  As you can see, it’s not on a seam and I can’t think of an obvious solution (apart from re-making the entire bodice, for which I don’t have enough fabric).

Torn geranium dress - detail 2I’m not looking for perfection – just a solution that would make the dress wearable.

Torn geranium dress - detail wearingWith all that vast sewing knowledge out there, surely someone has a clever suggestion?!

Thanks for helping a mama in need!

Laura x

A new dress, some good music and even sewing on TV


I write this post with lots of songs and images running through my mind.  I, like most other avid sewists with access to the BBC, am downing my sewing tools each Tuesday night to watch the four-part (why only four?!) BBC series, The Great British Sewing Bee.  It’s compelling television – 8 contestants (as of writing, already down to 6), two judges, and lots of timed sewing challenges.  It gets my sewing juices flowing even more than usual (which is saying a lot!) and hopefully it will inspire a whole new generation of sewists.

So, shall we talk about the dress?  It’s Simplicity 1800 from the Amazing Fit Collection with an open neckline, princess seams and a pleated skirt.  You have lots of choices to make before cutting the pattern – dress size, bust size and skirt size.  I made view B in a size 12, D cup with an average skirt.  I used a quilting-weight cotton by Alexander Henry Mecca for Moderns Mercer Park Grey from Pink Chalk Fabrics.

While making this dress I have had the Of Monsters and Men album, My Head is an Animal running through my head constantly.  I will never look at this dress without hearing those songs.  That’s what I love about sewing, or crafting in general; it can really tie you to a time, a place, a person, or, in this case, some music, in a way that buying something online or in a shop can’t do.  If you’ve not come across this band (they’re from Iceland – which will tie in nicely to our summer holiday plans!) then of course I recommend you check them out immediately!  My goal was to finish this dress to wear to their gig in Brussels – I achieved my goal but it seems that the band brought the Icelandic weather with them.

Ok, back to the dress…

simplicity1800 (1)


Before starting this dress I wasn’t aware of how the Amazing Fit worked.  For this collection you cut out the pieces based on your pattern and bust size so there are different pattern pieces in each dress size for a B cup, C cup, D cup, etc.  This is actually quite clever because it means you’re more likely to get a good fit the first time and less likely to have to do scary things like small and full bust adjustments.

simplicity1800 (4)

New dress in action – the kids can’t seem to understand why we’re taking pictures of me and not them!

I also like the overall look of the dress (pretty important if it’s something you plan on wearing!!) which was a happy surprise because this pattern was passed on from a friend so not something I necessarily I would have chosen off the shelf.  When looking at the photo I was most concerned about not liking the open neckline but that turned out to be one of the nicest features!  It’s nice to sew something out of your usual style once in awhile!

simplicity1800 (2)

The only design change I made was to add piping to the edges of the pockets and along the seam up to where the skirt is sewn to the bodice.

simplicity1800 (7)

simplicity1800 (8)


Although each step of the instructions is clear and easy to follow, the way they have you do the construction is not.  I did do a muslin (which I would highly recommend if you’re going to follow the instructions the way they are stated). Basically you attach the bodice to the skirt inside out (you sew the pieces wrong sides together) to do the fitting. This is fine but then when you sew the real thing you have to jump back and forth in the instructions because the original instructions don’t include attaching the lining.  I had to make little notes to myself in the margins because with all that jumping around it was very easy to leave out steps.  As it turned out I didn’t need to adjust anything from the muslin so in hindsight I wish I’d just gone for it!

simplicity1800 (9)


I’m quite pleased with the final look of this dress. It was rather time-consuming to make, with the muslin sewing/fitting issues, but I’m pretty sure I’ll wear it often once it finally warms up a bit!  Now that I know how the Amazing Fit system works I’d be interested to try another pattern in the collection and be confident to just sew it without going through all the fitting steps.

Good music, inspiring sewing and even a new dress.  It’s a pretty good day.  Even Manu agrees…

simplicity1800 (10)

So, what about you guys?  What music is driving your sewing machine these days?  Have you made anything from the Amazing Fit collection?  What do you think of it?  What will you be making for Spring and Summer?

Thanks for reading,

Laura x

Valentine’s Day chocolate pouches

valentine post 1

All of my time recently has been spent trying to set up this blog, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to make something small and colourful for the kids for Valentine’s Day morning. What could be better than heart pouches filled with chocolate?!  Here we go…

cutting patterns

I knew what I wanted them to look like and I took Noodlehead’s gathered clutch tutorial as a starting point. I quickly realised that it was going to be impossible to attach the lining to the zip as she instructed so I had to think again.

valentine post 5

In the end, I first attached the zip to the exterior fabric pieces and then sewed the exterior front and back together, right sides together. For the lining I followed the same procedure except without the zip – I just folded the fabric away at the opening to leave space to attach to the zip.

valentine post 3

I then inserted the lining into the exterior and, very carefully, topstitched along the top and bottom of the zipper, making sure to catch the lining underneath. This was quite fiddly, even with the zipper foot, and, if I were more patient I would try to get over my pathological dislike of hand-stitching and just do it that way.

valentine post 7

The little pull tabs were an after thought but quite a sweet one, I think.

Living in Brussels, there is never a shortage of chocolate with which to fill such things!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!!