Tag Archives: zip

New for spring…and a call-out for San Francisco local knowledge

A+ skirt with Julia cardigan // Behind the HedgerowInspired by an upcoming blogger’s weekend in Paris (more on that very soon ūüėČ ), I decided to make a spring ensemble to rival the sunniest day!

Early tomorrow morning we’re off to San Francisco (eek!!!) – and right now it’s 10.30pm – and I haven’t packed yet – so this will be a brief post filled with brightly coloured pictures and me looking a bit awkward in front of the camera (out of practice!!).

A+ skirt with Julia cardigan // Behind the Hedgerow

The Skirt…

…is the A+ skirt by Make it Perfect patterns. ¬†It’s a classic a-line shape with a top yoke and different versions to include pockets, button placket, or ribbon detail. ¬†Overall the pattern is well-drafted and clearly explained. ¬†Just a few things to note:

  • The top yoke is unlined. ¬†I thought this wouldn’t have enough structure so I added a facing using the same pattern piece as for the yoke itself. ¬†I also used some fusible interfacing on the facing piece. ¬†A quick fix for a more structured waist.
  • I lined the skirt. ¬†I attached it to the seam line of the yoke/skirt (wrong sides together) and this worked well.
  • My measurements were in between a small and medium and I made the medium. ¬†Now that I try it on I think it’s a bit too big. ¬†With a skirt like this you want it to be pretty snug so it stays in place.
  • I love the pockets on the skirt but I find them a little too low.
  • I do love an a-line shape in skirts but, for me, this one is a bit too flared. ¬†I’m being really picky because it’s only marginally wider than I would like.
  • The zip insertion and instructions are great. ¬†I almost always do an invisible zip but¬†I think I now might be a convert to the lapped zip!

A+ skirt with Julia cardigan // Behind the Hedgerow

To make this my perfect a-line skirt, next time I would use the facing and lining as described above, make the yoke piece slightly narrower which would bring the pockets up a bit higher, size down to small, and make the a-line shape a little less pronounced.

The cardigan…

A+ skirt with Julia cardigan // Behind the Hedgerow

…is the Julia Cardigan by Mouse House Creations. ¬†This is the second time I’ve sewn this pattern. ¬†This is the first version I made.

julia-cardi-title-image-21This is one of my most-warn cardigans (and that’s saying a lot considering it doesn’t even have pockets!!). ¬†You can read a full pattern review here.

With such a love for this pattern,¬†I didn’t change much in this version. ¬†In fact, the only thing I changed was the sleeve length (long sleeves to 3/4 length sleeves). ¬†The fabric itself is much thinner so it drapes a bit differently but I think I’ll love this one just as much.

Overall, I love my new cheery spring outfit. ¬†I can see many sunny days sipping cocktails in the sun…

A+ skirt with Julia cardigan // Behind the Hedgerow

And now onto our holiday…

Yup, we’re off to San Francisco. ¬†I’m American, I live in England, and everyone I meet here assumes I know San Francisco like the back of my hand. ¬†The truth is I’ve never been to California at all! ¬†We’re visiting some dear friends but that’s not to say I won’t have plenty of time for fabric and haberdashery shopping! ¬†So, do any of you out there have any not-to-be-missed suggestions (fabric or otherwise)?! ¬†Where to get the best Japanese food? ¬†Is Alcatraz worth doing? ¬†Any good day trip ideas with kids? ¬†If you want to follow any of our shenanigans and discoveries make sure to follow on Instagram.

A+ skirt with Julia cardigan // Behind the Hedgerow

Thanks to you all for reading and here’s hoping that spring and sunshine will be filling your days!

Laura x


A wild interpretation for the Take One Dress Series

Tinny Dress // Behind the HedgerowI am currently taking part in Victoria’s (As It Seams) fun and fresh sewing series Take One Dress. ¬†The idea is that each month a sewing blogger sews a dress inspired by the previous month’s inspiration piece and then passes another inspiration piece to the next blogger. ¬†It’s pretty addictive viewing!

Last month Tasha from Glitter and Wit set my challenge and today I’m sharing my interpretation of that challenge. ¬†You can see all the photos and read all about it over at As It Seams.

I’m baaaaaack – with a Retro Rucksack

Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio // Behind the Hedgerow

Make this pattern if: you want a truly versatile bag with some chunky hardware – making it feel professional and substantial.

Don’t make this pattern if: you are new to sewing and/or are looking for a quick sew.

Hello hello everyone. ¬†I can’t tell you how good it feels to be sitting down typing this. ¬†I didn’t intend to take such an extended break from blogging but I underestimated how much time and energy is involved in moving house, moving country, saying goodbye to old friends, trying to make new friends, ending schools, starting schools, unpacking boxes (who knew just HOW much paper is involved in packing?!), and discovering a new community. We’ve also had the additional adventure of adapting from city-living to country life.

So far we’ve had to deal with stampeding juvenile cows in the garden (and very nearly in the house), mice, a baby bird in the dishwasher, wasp’s nests, nesting birds and our fair share of bramble scratches and nettle stings. It’s all good stuff – great, in fact (well maybe not the nettle stings and wasps) – but it has meant much time away from my beloved machine and all that fabric!

Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio // Behind the Hedgerow

I have so many fun sewing-related things to share but today I am focusing on a new bag – THE RETRO RUCKSACK by Sara of RADIANT HOME STUDIO. Sara kindly invited me to join her tour and I gladly accepted – there’s nothing like a nice new bag to try to¬†detract from the fact that I’ve been wearing the same clothes for the last three days! I wanted a bag that’s¬†solid and chunky – a workhorse of a bag that could be dragged through all those brambles and nettles yet still look great when venturing in to Canterbury or Faversham. ¬†To achieve this balance of utilitarian and chic I knew just where to turn – Merchant and Mills for some divine British Oilskin.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. ¬†First let’s look at the pattern.

Sara’s pattern has been designed for the multi-tasking woman. ¬†With a variety of pockets (zippered inside pocket as well as large, interfaced patched pocket large enough for an iPad or other such device), recessed zip, exterior pockets, and choice of shoulder or backpack-style carrying she really has covered all your needs. ¬†(She is a mother of SIX after all so it’d venture to say she knows a thing or two about multi-tasking!).

Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio // Behind the Hedgerow

In terms of construction, there were a few hiccups along the way. ¬†I must stress that this is the first project I’ve sewn since our move last month so I’m pretty rusty and am by no means a bag sewing expert. ¬†The written instructions were clear but a few extra photos wouldn’t have gone amiss. ¬†I thought I’d struggle with adding the bits of hardware (first time doing this) or with the zip (which turned out to be the easiest part!) but instead I got tripped up over attaching the exterior side panels to the bag. ¬†I ended up doing it incorrectly but then the next day I looked at the bag and the penny dropped – I knew exactly what I should have done! ¬†TIP: if you get stuck and things still aren’t making sense after reading the instructions for the 73rd time, take a break, go to bed, and try again in the morning.

Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio // Behind the Hedgerow

Even with this mistake, I love the bag. ¬†The hardware and heavy oilskin give it a substantial weight which makes it feel solid and professional. ¬†The size is perfect for my needs. ¬†The choice of carrying methods (on back or over shoulder) is handy. The way the pattern pieces are divided up means that there’s lots of scope for personalising this bag with contrasting fabric (I chose to sew mine entirely in oilskin).

Some other details

  • In addition to the oilskin, I also used a touch of Liberty fabric along the exterior pocket edges.

Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio // Behind the Hedgerow

  • For the straps I used 2-in wide woven tape. ¬†It’s actually made to be used in upholstering chairs – you know, that woven bit on the bottom of the chair? ¬†I think it works great here.
  • I upcycled all my hardware from old bags (which is why it doesn’t all match!).
  • I did a little decorative zig-zag stitch to secure the buckles. ¬†Subtle? Yes, but I love it.

Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio // Behind the Hedgerow

  • I top-stitched along the outside of the zip. ¬†I like the way it looks but, more importantly, it helps to hide the exposed edges on the inside.

Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio // Behind the Hedgerow

I loved sewing with the oilskin. ¬†It’s different from laminate cotton (which is great for this bag too – see the post over at Casa Crafty) and surprisingly easy and liberating to sew with.

Here are the reasons why you should make your next project – whatever it is – with oilskin

  • The fabric isn’t washable (but can be re-oiled) which means you don’t have to pre-wash it.
  • You can’t iron it but it creases really well with your fingers.
  • I didn’t want to pin it (for fear of ruining the water-proof quality) so instead used clips to keep everything in place – worked perfectly.
  • I used a size 90 needle which handled everything well – even when sewing through 6 layers!
  • At the end of your project your hands will feel insanely moisturised!

After making this bag and using it for a few days I’ve realised that I prefer carrying it as a shoulder bag; so much so that I’ve now fixed the strap in place which makes it easier to throw over my shoulder and go. ¬†And if, like me, you tend to always leave the house in a rush, I think it still looks great if you don’t have time to fasten the buckles. ¬†Just grab and go!

Retro Rucksack by Radiant Home Studio // Behind the Hedgerow

In short, this pattern and fabric are a match made in heaven! A huge thank you to Sara for inviting me on this tour.  It has forced me to pause the unpacking and get back to sewing and I feel all the better for doing it!  And of course I have a new bag to boot! If you want to give this pattern a go you can find it here.  The oilskin I used can be purchased from Merchant and Mills here.

Thanks for reading – there will be more sewing goodness coming up soon.

Laura x

Another Simplicity 1652…in Liberty of London (*swoon*)


Simplicity 1652 in Liberty of London // Behind the Hedgerow

Make this pattern if: you want to spend the time to get a nicely fitted bodice.

Don’t make this pattern if: you’re larger than a D cup (the pattern only goes this high).

My youngest brother got married last month and I had a very short window of time to sew something to wear.  The call went out on Instagram and some helpful blogging buddies helped me decide what to make.

I’ve never duplicated dress patterns before but, since I cracked the “amazing fit” aspect of this pattern (well, almost), I decided to take it out for another spin. (Plus, since all the pattern pieces were cut and ready to go I was already ahead of the game).

Simplicity 1652 in Liberty of London // Behind the Hedgerow

Simplicity 1652 is part of the Amazing Fit collection. ¬†The idea behind these patterns is that you choose your dress size and your bust size and then mix and match the pieces to make a dress that’s perfectly fitted to you. ¬†I must say, it’s a pretty good system (as long as you fall within the A – D cup range). ¬†I made a size 12 with a C cup.

My first version of this dress was made from a linen-cotton blend and can be seen here. ¬†(You can also read the full pattern review is this post so I won’t repeat everything here). ¬†I love this dress. ¬†I wear it often as it strikes that perfect balance between easy-to-wear yet still smart and stylish. ¬†This version, with the Liberty of London fabric, takes it up a notch in the ‘fancy’ stakes. ¬†I’ve worn it once since the wedding but it’s not something I’d throw on for a wander down the shops for a pint of milk.

Simplicity 1652 in Liberty of London // Behind the Hedgerow

Like the first time, I made view A.  For the back I made view A (closed back with invisible zip) as opposed to view B (cut out back) that I did the first time.


Of course I forgot to photograph the back – it’s just like the one above but with the cut out bit filled in. ūüėČ

Simplicity 1652 in Liberty of London // Behind the Hedgerow

The whole sewing process of this dress went really smoothly – it’s amazing how much repetition improves our skills! ¬†I was a little nervous cutting into that lush Liberty (which was destined for Margot’s Ash Jumpsuit) but once the first snip was made I settled into it nicely.

Simplicity 1652 in Liberty of London // Behind the Hedgerow

Simplicity 1652 in Liberty of London // Behind the Hedgerow

So there you have it Рanother summer dress.  Makes a nice change from all those skirts, right?  I have Simplicity 1882, another one in the Amazing Fit collection, in my stash so really must give that a go next.

Simplicity 1652 in Liberty of London // Behind the Hedgerow

What are you making now that summer’s hotting up (or things are cooling down if you’re Down Under)? ¬†We are T-minus 13 days to our house move so please forgive me if you don’t hear from me for a short while. ¬†I plan to document the move over on Instagram so if you’re at all interested in the transition from city-living to country-bumpkin then please follow along!

Thanks for reading,

Laura x


The Willow and Co Glamping Tour and GIVEAWAY

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

I am so down with the Willow and Co Glamping Tour! ¬†This whole collection speaks to my soul! ¬†Dramatic much?! ¬†Well, maybe a tad, but my absolute perfect outfit is Wellington boots, tights, a handmade skirt or dress and a chunky cardigan (preferably hand-knitted but I don’t knit). ¬†For me, this just about sums up the concept of glamping – outdoorsy, rustic, and playful; yet beautiful and sophisticated.

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

So, whether you’re talking about the physical act of glamping (glamorous + camping) or about the Willow and Co Glamping Collection of sewing patterns the adjectives apply equally.

All the patterns in the collection seamlessly combine the qualities of function and beauty.

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

When Rebecca (writer of¬†Rock the Stitch¬†blog and designer of the phenomenal Fawn Lily Dress) asked me to join the tour I don’t think I’ve ever said yes so quickly! ¬†It turns out that ‘yes’ was the easy part – the difficulty came in deciding what to sew!

One thing was for sure – my two boys need clothes and they need them NOW! – so I blinkered by vision to only focus on boy items (but I tell you, the Ash Jumpsuit, Aster Cardigan, Clover Shorts, Fawn Lily Dress, and Persimmon Dress were almost impossible to ignore!).

I finally settled on the


Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

For the Hawthorn Sweatshirt I made a size 4 (for my 4.5 year old son) with the full zip. ¬†I followed Laura’s impeccable instructions to a T! ¬†This is one of those patterns that you can sit back and relax while making, knowing you are in safe hands. ¬†I have only sewn a zip into jersey one other time and, although not a complete disaster, it did get stretched out so one side was considerably longer than the other and some creative trimming had to be done (the end result is here).

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

A few additions I made:

  • I added wool tartan kangaroo pockets. ¬†My kids are pocket crazy – especially this one! ¬†In fact, you can’t really see it here, but there are actually FOUR pockets! ¬†I had sewn on the seam pockets before deciding to do the kangaroo ones.

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

  • I added elbow patches. ¬†I must say, I was a little afraid of having just a plain grey top to show so I thought these patches would add some interest as well as being practical (and oh-so appropriate of our summer trip to Scotland!).

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

  • For the cuffs and hemming I used a fancy stitch on my machine called something like a feather stitch. ¬†It has the effect of looking a bit like a cover-stitch and also meant I didn’t have to stop and install the twin needle. ¬†This is my new favourite stitch!

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

For the Kudzu Shorts I made a size 5 with a straight leg and I omitted the diagonal seam and cargo pocket. These shorts are hugely versatile, will work equally for boys and girls, and use stretch denim – a fun fabric to sew with! ¬†(I stocked up on about 6 meters of it from Minerva Crafts so you’ll be seeing more of these shorts/trousers in the weeks to come!).

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

Take care when choosing the size for these shorts. ¬†From my son’s measurements it wasn’t clear which size was best so I made a size 4 muslin which was super skin-tight (quite funny and maybe appropriate for Eurovision but not for climbing trees and digging in the dirt!). ¬†For this pair I increased the size to 5 and made the straight (as opposed to skinny) version. ¬†Next time I think I’ll even go up to a size 6.

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

I particularly like the waistband on these shorts. ¬†It’s partially ribbed and partially woven which is something I’ve never done before. ¬†They are quick and easy to get on and off yet still look relatively smart.

Hawthorn Top and Kudzu Shorts // Behind the Hedgerow

Both of these patterns are the perfect summer staples that I know will be worn time and again.

Whether your summer plans take you glamping, camping, surfing or gliding;

hiking, biking, swimming or riding;

The Glamping Collection will give you the power;

to keep your kids looking stylish until summer’s last hour.

Would you like the chance to win one of these patterns AND the fabric to sew it with?!  Just enter below for your chance to win just that Р2 yards of fabric (the same fabric used in the Willow and Co Lookbook) and the pattern of your choice.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you want to see more of the Willow and Co patterns sewn up then check out all the blogs on the tour.

Willow & Co Glamping Tour

Thanks for reading, happy summer sewing and good luck with the giveaway!

Laura x

Simplicity 1652 – Minerva Craft Blogger Network

Simplicity 1652 // Behind the Hedgerow

The more garments I sew for the¬†Minerva Craft Blogger Network¬†the more I enjoy it. ¬†Choosing from their extensive range of patterns and fabrics started out being totally overwhelming but I’m now slowly starting to know the patterns/designs that suit me and which fabrics would work well for them. ¬†This month’s choice was heavily inspired by Trine’s awesome version.

Last month was all about kid’s pjs so this month I made sure to get in a little selfish sewing…and boy am I glad I did! ¬†This dress is definitely in my top five favourite things I’ve sewn for myself!

Simplicity 1652 // Behind the Hedgerow

Dress: Simplicity 1652. ¬†Size 12, Cup C, Front – View A, Back – View B. ¬†Fabric:¬†Black/white pinstripe cotton-linen blend. ¬†Buttons:¬†self-covered with Liberty scraps. ¬†Tights:¬†hand-dyed ombre tights ‘sunset’ from BZRShop. ¬†Boots: Camper Annie Ankle Boots.

The Dress

Simplicity 1652 is part of Simplicity’s Amazing Fit collection. ¬†What this means is that you have multiple choices for not just the size of the dress but also the bust size (and in some cases, the fullness of the skirt). ¬†This allows you to mix and match thereby giving you an¬†amazing fit. ¬†Well, that’s the idea anyway.

The dress has three sleeve options and two back options.  I went for View A in the front (short sleeves and button tabs Рjust say NO! to chunky chains sewn onto clothing!) and View B in the back (cut-out triangle).

Simplicity 1652 // Behind the Hedgerow

This dress also has really great pockets that are sewn into the front section seams – easy to do and makes it a bit more interesting than pockets along the side seams.

The Fabric

For this dress I chose a versatile black/white pinstripe which is a cotton-linen blend (click on photo to learn more about it). ¬†I love this fabric! ¬†It’s easy to work with (yes, it frays so make sure to finish your raw edges) but it’s a great weight and is suitable for cooler weather (tights and cardi!) or just as is with sandals in summer.

Also, with this fabric there were lots of options in terms of how to lay out the fabric (ie, which direction you want the stripes to go in for each pattern piece).  I had fun sketching out all the different possibilities and finally decided on doing vertical stripes for the main bodice, skirt and sleeves, horizontal stripes for the button tabs, and bias cut stripes for the side bodice and back.


I’ve made a Simplicity Amazing Fit dress before (Simplicity 1800 – you can see it here) so I should have been fine with the method of construction. ¬†But, alas, much time had passed and I’d forgotten just how mad this method it! ¬†I don’t think you’ll find any sewing blogger writing about the Amazing Fit collection without referencing the odd construction process.

Simplicity 1652 // Behind the Hedgerow

In short, you sew the bodice pieces together and then you sew the skirt pieces together Рthis part is pretty straightforward Рbut then you sew the bodice to the skirt inside out (so, you sew with the wrong sides of the fabric facing each other) with a large seam allowance in order to tweak the fit.  Then you have to take it apart, make your adjustments and then put it back together the right way around.

Some other notes on construction:

  • The front bodice is unlined. ¬†I didn’t really like this and next time would try to draft a lining.
  • I added a lining to the skirt. ¬†The fabric is rather sheer so opted for a lining here. ¬†I drafted the lining based on the assembled skirt pieces and then attached it along the skirt/bodice seam line.

Simplicity 1652 // Behind the Hedgerow

  • The sleeves were trickier to set than I expected. ¬†You are instructed to set the sleeves¬†after¬†the side seams are sewn and lately I’ve been setting sleeves into an open side seam and then closing the side seam and sleeve seam with one line of sewing. ¬†Next time I’ll do it this way.
  • For the buttons on the tabs I made my own covered buttons with scraps of Liberty print fabric.

Simplicity 1652 // Behind the Hedgerow

Sizing and Fit

The last time I made an Amazing Fit dress I made size 12¬†with a D cup. ¬†After sewing it I thought it fit well but now that I’ve worn it for a while I realise that it’s actually too big in the bust (but I’ll still wear it!).


This time I made size 12 with a C cup and this worked *much* better. ¬†I’ve actually worn this dress a few times already so I feel confident in saying that I’m happy with the fit.

The only issue I have is that there is a bit of gaping in the back along the top of the zip. ¬†I’m a bit stumped about how to remedy this – if I were to take it in anymore then I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to move my arms!

Simplicity 1652 // Behind the Hedgerow

Final thoughts

So, I guess the final question is – Is it¬†really an amazing fit? ¬†The short answer is yes! ¬†I didn’t really make any adjustments from the size 12, cup c pattern so, for something so closely fitted around the bust,¬†is¬†pretty amazing! ¬†Now that I’m happy with the fit I want to rush out and make more from this collection (before I forget all the details of construction). ¬†I already have Simplicity 1882¬†in my stash so I really should get sewing!

And here’s me taking a pic of my photographer for the day…
Simplicity 1652 // Behind the Hedgerow

…and my photographer… (follow me on Instagram if you’re interested in seeing more behind the¬†hedgerow scenes shots!).

Kids off school. Putting them to work. #lifeofablogger

A post shared by Laura Fisher (@behindhedgerow) on

Start ’em young!

If you’re inspired to give this pattern and fabric a go then you can buy the full kit here. ¬†It includes the pattern, fabric, interfacing, zip, lining and thread. ¬†It also includes yellow buttons for the tabs. ¬†If you want to do covered buttons (which are surprisingly easy to make and very effective) then you can find everything you need for that here.

Thanks for reading

Laura x

Minerva Craft Blogger Network – Simplicity 1666, Lisette Attache Dress

Simplicity 1666 // Behind the HedgerowOK, so here’s what you fabulous sewists should do – stop all that holiday sewing and make a dress for yourself!

I know, it’s a bit indulgent at this time of year and, to be honest, I know for a fact I wouldn’t have taken on this project right now had I not already committed myself to the Minerva Craft Blogger Network.

Simplicity 1666 // Behind the Hedgerow

But here we are, two weeks before Christmas, the dress is done, and I love that I have something new, special and versatile to wear to all the holiday outings.

The Dress

Simplicity 1666 // Behind the Hedgerow

For my second month as part of the Minerva Craft Blogger Network I’m sharing with you the Lisette Attache Dress (Simplicity 1666). ¬†I made the dress (view A) but the pattern also includes a peplum top, a straight skirt and a bag. ¬†After all my blathering on last month about pushing ourselves with our sewing projects, this month I took it a bit easy (I was accurately predicting my mild panic about getting all the Christmas sewing done). ¬†You can’t go wrong with Lisel Gibson’s Lisette patterns (or her Oliver+s patterns for that matter). ¬†I knew I was in safe hands as far as the construction goes.

The challenging part of this project came in the¬†style. ¬†The shape of this dress is not something that I would usually go for – my default dress is boxy and rather shapeless. ¬†The Lisette Portfolio Dress (Simplicity 2245) that I’m wearing in that little image up there on the right is pretty much my perfect dress. ¬†I also recently purchased The Camber Dress pattern by Merchant and Mills which I can’t wait to try out.

This Lisette dress is more hourglass shaped and I even wore a belt! ¬†I¬†never wear dresses with belts. ¬†I mean never! ¬†I bought this belt about five years ago and this is the second time I’ve worn it.

The Fabric

The fabric for this dress is an aubergine crepe¬†(but comes in ten different colours). ¬†It was a bit of a challenge simply because it was new to me. ¬†As it turns out, it was easy to sew and quite forgiving (although does fray quite a bit – make sure to overlock or zig zag your raw edges). ¬†It drapes really well and has a lovely weight to it (I didn’t find it necessary to line the dress).


Simplicity 1666 // Behind the Hedgerow

Do you like it better with or without the belt??

I was feeling a bit reckless when I started this dress and took two shortcuts that I normally wouldn’t do (but thankfully turned out ok).

  • First, I didn’t make a muslin. ¬†I just couldn’t face making the dress twice and I’d made other Lisette patterns in size 14 so felt fairly confident it would fit.
  • Second, instead of tracing my size onto pattern paper and then cutting out, I just cut my size straight from the printed pattern. ¬†Maybe you all do that anyway??

To make the dress I followed the instructions pretty closely – it is Liesl after all. ¬†It consists of six panels which give the dress a lovely shape – it skims the body without being overtly fitted. ¬†Also, with these panels it’s quite easy to make adjustments to the size in just the right place.

Simplicity 1666 // Behind the Hedgerow

The only two alterations I made (and these are tiny!):

  • I used an invisible zip instead of a normal zip and installed it using this tutorial from The Coletterie (by far the best tutorial I’ve come across).
  • I planned on hand stitching the hem on the sleeves and at the bottom but, after doing one sleeve, the fabric looked puckered and bumpy so I opted for machine stitching instead. ¬†If you sew with this fabric be careful as it doesn’t crease when ironed so you have to persuade it to behave.

Simplicity 1666 // Behind the Hedgerow

Sizing and Fit

My measurements fell in between size 12 and 14 and went for the 14 (always better too big than too small, right?). ¬†I basted the side seams to start with and was so relieved that it fit on the first try. ¬†After taking these pictures and wearing the dress all day I realise that the fit isn’t actually perfect – there is a bit of gaping between the top of my bust and shoulders. ¬†Even though overall I’m happy, I’m curious to know what a size 12 would look like. ¬†There is a bit of stretch in the fabric so perhaps I could have got away with a size smaller. ¬†What do you guys think? ¬†Does it look too big?

Simplicity 1666 // Behind the Hedgerow

Final thoughts

I am happy with this dress. ¬†I’m still not completely comfortable with the whole belt thing but, I must say, it does feel decidedly grown up! ¬†I was sort of swishing my way through the day with purpose and determination!! ¬†It’s a dress that gives you confidence! ¬†If you like what you see here you can buy the full kit – fabric, thread, zip, and pattern – over at Minerva Crafts. ¬†Made in black, this dress would be endlessly versatile and even kind of sexy. ¬†Go on, give it a go!

Simplicity 1666 // Behind the HedgerowThanks for reading and here’s hoping you find the time to sew yourself something fabulous for the holidays.

Laura x

An incredibly useful Autumn outfit

Renfrew Top and Yoked Skirt // Behind the Hedgerow

I first mentioned the sewing of this outfit during Selfish Sewing Week¬†way back at the end of September. ¬†With such a lengthy delay I almost didn’t bother blogging about it at all, but I’ve been wearing these two pieces probably more than anything in my wardrobe and I couldn’t help but share. ¬†For me and my style this outfit comes pretty close to perfection for an Autumn jaunt around town.

Renfrew Top and Yoked Skirt // Behind the Hedgerow

Renfrew Top by Sewaholic

Renfrew Top and Yoked Skirt // Behind the Hedgerow

This top has been on my bucket list since appearing in my Top 10 list¬†in May. ¬†I’ve put it off for a while because Sewaholic patterns are drafted for a pear-shaped figure, which I’m not, and was a little concerned about getting the fit right. ¬†I finally crumbled – I just¬†needed that cowl neck!

The Details

The Renfrew Top is a fitted knit top with banded hems (banded hems = no hemming of sleeves or bottom = no wavy hems!).  There are three variations that can be mixed and matched at will.

My version has a cowl neck (view C) with long sleeves (view A).  The fabric is bright red organic cotton jersey from Kitschy Coo.

I made a size 10. ¬†My bust and waist measurements fit nicely in size 10 but my hips were size 4. ¬†Why I didn’t grade down to size 4 on the hips, I don’t know?! ¬†(But it all worked out in the end…keep reading ūüôā ).

Renfrew Top and Yoked Skirt // Behind the Hedgerow


This really is an easy-peasy sew. ¬†Scared of sewing with knits? ¬†Don’t be! ¬†The Renfrew is a great starting point. ¬†A few things to remember:

  • Use a ball-point (jersey) needle.
  • Use a stretch stitch (to allow the fabric to stretch without breaking the stitches). ¬†On my Brother machine it’s stitch 3 and looks like a lightning bolt.
  • Use a walking foot if you’re so inclined. ¬†My feelings toward my walking foot run hot and cold. ¬†I use it because I assume it keeps the layers of fabric lined up nicely but, in reality, I rarely notice a difference. ¬†Also, it’s really loud and clunky to sew with. ¬†Does anyone else find this? ¬†I have a¬†really cheap one that looks like this:

Anyone know if a better quality foot would make a significant difference? ¬†Do I need to add one to my ever-growing Christmas list (along with a new camera, lenses, a serger, a dress dummy, some fantastic black leather ankle boots…I could go on).

The instructions for this top are expertly explained. ¬†I’ve just pulled on them out to check the notes I made while sewing – but there are none. ¬†In other words, there’s not much I can add to help you with construction – everything you need is in that little envelope!

Renfrew Top and Yoked Skirt // Behind the Hedgerow

The Fit

Here’s where things get a little tricky. ¬†When I tried on the top I was initially disappointed because it was too big around the hips (surprise, surprise, right?!) and was very, very¬†unflattering. ¬†Look at my saaaad face ūüôĀ .

Renfrew top (before shrinking to fit) // Behind the HedgerowBut then I washed it….and now I’m happy!Renfrew Top // Behind the HedgerowI¬†did¬†pre-wash my fabric but that second wash gave it just the right about of shrinkage for a perfect fit! ¬†It’s not often that shrinking a newly sewn garment is a¬†good thing but I’ll take it! ¬†**Note to self – and to you too – pre-wash jersey fabric¬†twice¬†before sewing.**

And look, this top is also great layered. ¬†First with a cord blazer (this was the too-big-version)…

Renfrew Top // Behind the Hedgerow

And with my new Vogue jacket

Renfrew Top and Yoked Skirt // Behind the Hedgerow

Simple Yoked Skirt from Simple Modern Sewing

renfrew top - yoked skirt - sewing bookSimple Modern Sewing is a lovely Japanese sewing book with 8 patterns that can be made into 25 different garments.  The styles are all simple and comfortable yet elegant.  The instructions are a little hit-and-miss but, for me, the extra work is worth the effort.

I made the Wrap Skirt earlier this year. ¬†Which, in case you’re wondering is NOT, I repeat NOT a wraparound skirt….the cause of much head-scratching and frustration in its construction.

renfrew top - yoked skirt - sewing book wrap skirt picWrap Skirt // Behind the HedgerowThe Details

The yoked skirt is a slightly a-line skirt with, yup!, a yoke.  I pretty much lifted the whole look for this skirt from the book.

renfrew top - yoked skirt - sewing book skirt pic

I had this tweed-like fabric in my stash that I picked up in a remnant bin for ‚ā¨1.

selfish sewing sneak peak 4

Since I had already made the wrap skirt in size large (and the yoked skirt used the same pattern) I went for the lazy option and made size large….another sizing fail.

The Construction

This skirt was fairly straightforward in construction.  Of course the invisible zip can be problematic but I followed The Coletterie tutorial (as usual) which made the process painless.

Renfrew Top and Yoked Skirt // Behind the HedgerowI also added a lining, which slowed things down a bit. ¬†It was the first one I’d done with an invisible zip and it’s pretty messy on the inside around the zip. ¬†I can live with that.

Renfrew Top and Yoked Skirt // Behind the Hedgerow

The Fit

Oh, dear, another fitting failure! ¬†This is how stupid I am. ¬†I was so confident that the skirt would fit that I made¬†the entire skirt – outside, lining, yoke, yoke facing, zip, all top-stitching –¬†before I decided to try it on. ¬†This is what I got:

Yoked Skirt // Behind the HedgerowAre you kidding?!?! ¬†It was something like 4cm too big on¬†either¬†side! ¬†Well, I put this baby down for a good few weeks. ¬†In fact, I thought I would just abandon it altogether (or save for when I finally succumb to a life of sausages, Belgian frites, beer and macaroons). ¬†I even surprised myself when I picked it up again and broke out the seam ripper. ¬†I took in the requisite centimetres and sewed it all back up, trying to match the pattern on the lace as best as possible. ¬†Now I have an awesome fit! ¬†In fact, it fits better than almost anything I own (I’m learning, through sewing, that most of my clothes are actually a bit too big for me).

Renfrew Top and Yoked Skirt // Behind the Hedgerow

At the end of the day…

So, with a reasonable amount of effort and a nice dose of luck, I have an entirely functional and versatile outfit. ¬†This makes me happy. ¬†I would recommend both these patterns as good wardrobe-builders that don’t require too much specialist knowledge.

And, no sewing project is without its lessons learned:

  1. Try on your garment at every stage of the sewing process Рnot just at the end.
  2. Don’t give up! ¬†You never know when the perfect garment is just around the corner.
  3. Simple, basic patterns are awesome.

Happy sewing to you all.  What have you been selfishly sewing for the season??  Or, have you been knee-deep in Christmas sewing?  Tell me all about it!

Thanks for reading,

Laura x

Mr Green Jeans – KCW Fall 2013

Banyan trousers photo collage

If you are reading this and are interested in sewing for children then I’m sure you’re already aware that we’re in the throes of Kids Clothes Week Fall 2013…day two to be precise. ¬†I’m working away on many projects and trying to squeeze them all into this one little week. ¬†I find that the sewing is manageable – it’s the photographing, editing and writing that sucks away all the time.

green banyan trousers - title image

So, in the interest of high sewing productivity, this post will be short and sweet.

green banyan trousers - back view

green banyan trousers - side view

These jeans are made from Figgy’s Banyan Pants pattern. ¬†I’ve made the shorts version once before – you can read the full pattern review here¬†(and I’d forgotten until now just how detailed it is!). ¬†Just for a point of comparison and to give you an idea of the different direction this pattern can go in, here is a pic of the shorts version.

banyan shorts - t-shirt and shoesThe construction of the trousers was identical to the shorts so there’s not much to add to the pattern review. ¬†Here are the particulars of this version.

green banyan trousers - hanging

  • Size. ¬†My son is almost 9 and very, very skinny…like green bean skinny…I guess these trousers are rather appropriate! ¬†I made a size 6/7 for the trousers but extended it to the length of size 8/9. ¬†This worked well for trousers (so glad I didn’t go any bigger) but they’re still a teeny tiny bit too short. ¬†He can wear them for now but I’m going to have a think about how to lengthen them – with the cuff at the bottom it’s not as simple as just letting down the hem.

green banyan trousers - cuff detail

  • The fabric is a green denim that I bought from Jo-Ann’s while I was in the States this past summer. ¬†This was my first time sewing jeans. ¬†I used a jeans sewing needle (that sucker is thick!) and, for the most part, it was no more difficult than quilting-weight cotton.

green banyan trousers - stylin'

  • Since discovering flocking (read all about it here), I want to add it to everything. ¬†George liked the idea of a lightning bolt so we worked out that part together and added it to the back pocket. ¬†It’s very hard not to get carried away with it!

green banyan trousers - back pocket detail

  • And finally, I added petrol blue piping to the slanted pocket seam. ¬†I think it’s subtle enough for a 8-year-old boy to get away with and still satisfies my craving for adding details.

green banyan trousers - piping pocket detail

I’m happy to tick this off my sewing list (it’s been on there since buying the fabric in July). ¬†George is happy with his new pair of trousers and, if we’re lucky, he can wear them a full week before he grows another three inches and they sit in my ‘repairs and alterations’ box patiently waiting for some length to be added!

green banyan trousers - sitting

Onwards and upwards!  Next up РOliver +s Book Report Dress and Go To Patterns Leggings.

Hope you’re all enjoying this week of frantic kid sewing – all the photos in the KCW Flickr pool and on the KCW blog and beyond inspiring – I literally have to drag myself away from the computer and into my sewing room!

Thanks for reading,

Laura x

Pattern mixing and remixing – Project Run and Play, Week 1

Popover dress remix - waist down

I nearly didn’t participate in this season of PR&P. ¬†I need my sewing to be useful and functional – who (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) needs a breezy new sundress in Mid-September? ¬†But, as the pattern rolled around in my head certain elements started jumping out at me to make the dress more Autumn-focussed:



and, not-so-logically, ombre!

So, here I present to you my


Popover dress remix - wearing, black background

Are you guys familiar with PR&P? ¬†In brief, it’s an online version of Project Runway exclusively for kids’ clothes. ¬†This is series 7 and will take place over four weeks. ¬†Each week the contestants get a new sewing challenge:

  • Week 1 – Pattern Remix (Oliver + s Popover Sundress)
  • Week 2 – Candy Inspired
  • Week 3 – Mad for Plaid
  • Week 4 – Signature Style

At the end of each challenge we, the public, get to vote for our favourite (voting for Week 1 has already started) and the lowest ranking has to ‘go home’ ūüôĀ .

Popover dress remix - playing

As a sewist who wants to get more involved in pattern design, and as someone who needs deadlines to encourage productivity, I thought this would be a fun challenge. ¬†Also, I am fascinated by the creative process and observing each person’s journey of turning this pattern into their own unique vision. ¬†The remix challenge this week is to take the Oliver+s Popover Sundress pattern (which is free and downloadable here) as a starting point and to turn it into your own creation.

My design elements

With the Popover Sundress as my starting point, I knew I wanted sleeves and a slightly more fitted bodice. ¬†I kept things in the family, so to speak, and turned to the Oliver+s Fairy Tale Dress (which I’ve already made twice before – here and here if you’re interested).

Put simply, in very non-technical drafting terms, I sort of blended the Fairy Tale Dress bodice with the Popover Dress skirt.  From there I chopped up the pattern pieces into ever-widening sections (remembering to add on seam allowances) to create the ombre colour effect.

I used the Fairy Tale Dress tulip sleeves. ¬†I didn’t add a contrast fabric to the interior – I thought it would make it too bulky to gather around the cap. ¬†Instead I just hemmed them.

Popover dress remix - sleeve detail 2

I added an invisible zip to the back. ¬†I was hoping to avoid this but couldn’t. ¬†Not my best zipper insertion but hey-ho.

Popover dress remix - zipper detail

I finished the neckline with bias binding – a presumably easy option but I did manage to get myself into a muddle when trying to conceal all the raw edges at the back opening.

Popover dress remix - neckline detail

I added a pocket.  The shape was based on Oliver+s Jump Rope Dress (view B) although I decided not to gather it at the top.

Popover dress - pocket detail

There’s quite a wide hem. ¬†In hindsight I should have hand-sewn it for a cleaner finish. ¬†The red along the bottom edge was a last minute addition.

Popover sundress remix - hem detail

Thoughts and comments on the process

There are two main points I want to make here. ¬†(I know I’m going on a bit but bear with me! ¬†I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this!).

Popover dress remix - dress with cardigan

Designing clothes is A LOT of work…

When I write down my design elements, the process seems so neat and simple. ¬†Let me tell you – it wasn’t!

I’ll be the first to admit that, to look at, this dress¬†is simple. ¬†If I were following a pattern to make it, it would be extremely straightforward (apart from the zipper insertion, perhaps), but the process of figuring out the design (which largely isn’t even¬†my design) was a time-consuming challenge of balancing how I wanted it to look vs what would actually work/what I was able to do.

I take my hat well and truly off to all the contestants of PR&P – and to all of you who design patterns from scratch. ¬†Sometimes I hear complaints about how expensive independent patterns are but, for me, they are worth¬†every penny. ¬†Even to design a potato sack would be more work than it looks on the surface – not to mention a dress, blouse, jacket or trousers. ¬†I’m officially in awe of all pattern designers!

Popover dress remix - dress on black

…but I LOVE the entire process.

It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a nerd and while figuring out how all the technical elements of the dress would work, I was reminded of complex math(s) equations (the ones that take pages to work out) and that feeling of achievement when getting it right (all the while knowing that one miniscule mistake along the way would have ruined the whole thing).

What?!?! ¬†You don’t get that feeling when designing patterns?! ¬†Hmmm…

Then, on the flip side, there are the creative elements of the design Рhow I want the design to look.  As I learn more about sewing I have more proverbial tools in my sewing box to call upon.  This makes the process more fun but also forces me to be selective so as not to over-do it.

By drafting my own pattern I really am starting with a blank canvas. ¬†I suppose the same can be said for a purchased pattern but I find that it’s too easy to be (overly?!) influenced by the pattern envelope or images I find online.

Popover dress remix - sleeve detail

For this design some of my considerations were:

  • How wide should each colour block be? ¬†[graded from skinny to wide.]
  • Should I make a boat-neck and hope that it fits over her head without any closures?[wouldn’t work – had to go for a zip.]
  • Should I add a collar? ¬†[decided to keep neckline simple to make the ombre effect the stand-out feature.]
  • Should the neckline bias binding blend in or be in contrast? [I thought red would be too much here.]
  • Should the pocket totally blend in or be in contrast? [I actually made and sewed on a pocket to blend in but didn’t like it – from a distance you didn’t notice the pocket – just the red line across the dress.]

There were many more questions running through my head but you get the idea.

And, you wanna know the thing I love BEST about this whole process? ¬†The thing that makes me giddy with excitement?? ¬†It’s bringing these two elements together in one creation –¬†that beautiful moment of figuring out the technical details to make your creative vision become a reality. ¬†It’s like a graceful, intricate tango between the left and right sides of the brain* to achieve a common goal. ¬†It feels so complete and utterly fulfilling.

Popover dress remix - full dress with doll

Wow – I really didn’t realise how much I had to say about this project. ¬†I love blogging! ¬†Had I not sat down to write this I never would have given the process such thought (much less put it into words).

So, do you guys design your own patterns? ¬†How does the process work for you? ¬†Are you participating in PR&P? ¬†I won’t be joining in for Week 2 – I’m afraid ‘Candy Inspiration’ doesn’t fill me with inspiration – but I might try to join in with ‘Signature Style.’ ¬†In the meantime I’ll be getting ready for Selfish Sewing Week (and I’m even lined up to do a guest post over at Imagine Gnats for it).

I thought you might like to see what my ‘photo shoots’ (ha!) look like it real life!

Popover dress remix - outtake

Thanks for bearing with me – a long one today!

Laura x

*While listening to a TED lecture today I heard that the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that connects the left and right sides, is thicker and stronger in females.  Just an interesting side note.