Waterfall Raglan Dress and Top

I managed to send off both my giveaway packages this week, thanks to everyone who took part on Instagram. I made this patchwork pouch out of a stack of my favourite Anna Maria Horner prints using the In Color Order Lined Drawstring Bag tutorial . It took a bit of time as I haven’t done any patchwork in a long time but I really enjoyed the process and love the result.

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I used a pink and red striped Tula Pink print for the top of the bag which I think complements the colours nicely. I hope its new owner enjoys using it, and I’m thinking of making another one for myself.

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I’ve been meaning to share this top for a little while, its the Waterfall Raglan by Chalk and Notch patterns. I made both the top and dress versions for my daughter.

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I used a beautiful Art Gallery Fabrics knit for this. The fabric is from the Fleet and Flourish collection  by Maureen Cracknell and is called Swifting Flora Fond.

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I cut a size 5 for my daughter and it fits her well with some room to grow (she is just over 4 but quite tall).

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The loose style of the top looks great over trousers. She doesn’t have many tops at the moment so I am planning to make a few more using this pattern.

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I made the dress using a jersey which is overlaid with a cream corded lace which I bought from Simply Fabrics in Brixton.

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At first I thought the fabric would be fine to use as it has a jersey base but when I did the stretch test I found that it only had about 20% stretch due to the lace which is bonded on to the jersey. When I initially sewed the sleeves they were a bit tight so I unpicked and sewed them again using a 1/4 inch seam instead, which gave a bit of extra room.

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I also  used a thinner fabric to make the facing for the neckline and turned that inwards which made the neckhole a bit bigger. waterfall3

It’s a great dress for twirling in and the fabric makes it special. I also bought some velvet as I have seen some beautiful velvet versions online too.

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Fleur and Dot Dress

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A quick post about my daughter’s birthday dress! I’ve been making quicker than I can blog recently so I’m going to post a few projects with less waffle. This is made using the Fleur and Dot Peter Pan Collar dress pattern (it’s not quite finished in the above photo!).

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I bought this gorgeous fabric as soon as it came out last year. It’s from the Lavish fabric range by Katarina Roccella. It also comes in a beautiful white and pink colourway. I made a small change to the finishing of the cuffs as I wasn’t happy with having the overlocked edge showing, so I turned the edges over twice for a neater edge instead.

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I cut a size 5 and my daughter just turned 4. She is tall for her age so although it’s a little bit big now I’m happy she’ll get some decent wear out of it. The pattern was straightforward with only a few pieces to cut (bodice, collar, sleeves). The measurements were provided for the skirt. I was a bit unhappy about the very small age ranges provided for a not inexpensive pattern. This was a preschool pattern which came with sizes 4,5 and 6. Infant size and Youth are available separately. I don’t plan to repurchase the Youth size but will probably look for a similar pattern with a wider age range.

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I finally bought a tool for adding the popper fasteners which is a huge improvement to hammering them in with the little plastic tool that’s provided. I did put the buttons in the wrong way round at first though! Luckily my husband was on hand to get them out but I don’t recommend doing this!

Altogether it was a fairly quick sew. I learned a few new skills and am less intimidated by press studs!

Moneta Party!

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The Moneta Party’s started! I can share my lovely new dress with you all.I was in two minds whether to join in as I’m supposed to be keeping my pattern and fabric stash under control and I already have the Out and About Dress pattern which is very similar. However the Instagram posts (and amazing prizes) tempted me in. I already had the fabric which is an Observer knit by Art Gallery Fabrics. 

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I wore it to work this morning  with this Great Plains waterfall jacket and it was really comfortable. I love the expression ‘Secret Pyjamas’, that’s exactly how it felt to wear! The weather was still a bit cold for my liking but it will be perfect in a couple of months for a dress like this.

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I’m not very fond of having my picture taken so you’ll have to excuse the awkward poses! 

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I love the length of the dress, as I’m quite short (5’2″) it’s hard to find dresses the correct length and I spent most of my teenage years in clothes that dragged on the ground. I’m still lazy about hemming shop bought clothes but I make sure I hem my sewing to the correct length for me. 

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I made some modifications to the original pattern. I lengthened the sleeves and skirt to full length using the Out and About dress sleeve as a guide. I overestimated the length of the skirt and had to cut some off when I hemmed it. 

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I also gathered the skirt and sewed it to the bodice front and did the same with the back pieces before joining the sides. This is because I hate the feeling of elastic digging into my waist, and I didn’t have any clear elastic at home. I might try this technique if I make the dress again though.

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I made a size small but graded the waist to a medium. I was happy with the fitting although the neckline is fairly wide. It does look beautiful and is a bit different to dresses I already have. 

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This was my first time using a twin needle and I was surprised to find it was actually quite easy! I was a bit sceptical about finishing the neckline without a facing but am really happy with the result. 

I will probably make another one of these soon but will try a shorter length as the maxi length is hard to manage when sewing. Now I’m off to look at all the beautiful Monetas! 

Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress


This shift dress has been in my wardrobe for a while now. I bought the fabric and pattern at the Knitting and Stitch Show in October. There was a dress on display in another print and it looked like a straightforward project. Another friend on Instagram also posted about her plans to sew the same dress so we ended up having a mini-sewalong. 

She did say that her first attempt was quite small so I erred on the side of caution and used a smaller seam allowance than stated. It’s actually a bit loose now but I don’t mind that too much. 


I improvised a loop with elastic and used a button instead of a hook and eye fastening. I find them a bit fiddly when I can’t see the fastening easily.

The fabric is a beautiful navy floral crepe which washes perfectly. The colours were less bright when wet but got brighter again once the fabric dried, to my relief. I couldn’t find it on the website so it may have sold out, but they have a great selection of dressmaking fabric available. 

I usually throw the dress on with navy smart trousers for work or jeans on my days off. 


It also goes well with my Driftless cardigan. It’s a versatile and comfy dress and great for showing off patterned fabrics which don’t need a lot of design details. 

Next I’m working on my dress for the Moneta Party. There’s still time to join in if you haven’t already! 

Grainline Wardrobe Basics

I bought a few Grainline Studio patterns in the Black Friday sale – the Scout Tee, Lark Tee and Driftless cardigan. I have been planning a handmade wardrobe for a while and want to get ahead so I can join in with Me Made May later in the year. I have a few dresses and tops now but not that many basic every day tops. I also prefer to wear fine gauge cardigans and have realised that I’m not really going to be able to knit my own ones so why not try sewing them instead?

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This Scout Tee is made with Observer fabric in Speck Stardust Metallic print. I made a size 4, grading the waist to a size 6. I looked at the garment measurements afterwards and realised that the grading was probably not necessary as there is a lot of ease in the pattern anyway.

dsc_0818I’ve tried to move away from making clothes in quilting cotton as it feels quite stiff and crisp even after washing, but this print was so pretty with the metallic splashes that I decided to make an exception. It feels quite comfortable on, although I usually wear a thin layer underneath.

dsc_0813This top is made with an Indonesian lawn I bought on holiday in Dubai. The fabric is very soft and light. It says Liberty on the selvedge. Although it does not appear to be genuine, the fabric is comparable to tana lawn.

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I was planning to make this a toile but I love the print now I’ve made it up and have worn it a few times already. This weight is ideal for the pattern as it drapes well and is comfortable.

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Finally, this is my Driftless cardigan. This pattern was more of a challenge, with 11 pieces to cut out. Unfortunately I forgot to cut out the lower hem bands and threw the remaining fabric away before I realised, so improvised by slip stitching the hem. It is not really noticeable and gives a reasonably neat finish.

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The fabric is a featherweight jersey from Fabworks  which has now sold out. It was a bit slippery so a challenge to cut out, but easier than expected to sew. I am planning another in their amazing felted wool jersey. The teal has sold out but there is some navy and black left if you’re quick.

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I’ve got a few more projects ready to blog about so am looking forward to sharing those with you as well! In the meantime, I am also planning for Edinburgh Yarn Festival, my first visit there and first trip away on my own since I can remember!

Makelight Course Review

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Despite a nasty bout of flu, I’ve had a good start to the year. I signed up to the Makelight ‘Beautify your Instagram’ course on impulse, with the idea of improving my photos and connecting with other makers. I didn’t have any real expectations otherwise, but have noticed a huge improvement in the quality of my images, because I’m thinking so much more about my lighting, composition and colours. I have always been drawn to bright colours, (think Rice Denmark ) but this hasn’t always come across in my photos, as I would not pay much attention to lighting and the background or composition. I found the Insights report provided very useful in focussing my attention on choosing colours I love. This can be challenging, as I do enjoy being spontaneous on social media and having to think about lighting for example, means that I can’t just post snaps of what I’m making at night!  Being patient has its rewards though, as I’m really pleased with how my photography is improving.

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One thing that has really surprised me is that I have been able to use objects I already have at home as props. I had always thought I’d need to go out and buy lots of new things for this purpose, but it turns out that I have plenty of bright and pretty things to use already. I also like having glimpses of work in progress in some of my pictures. I have also got to ‘meet’ many other people on the course, some of whom are very inspiring. qodqjwr2wh3rvfzunvq8Emily and Stef have created a friendly and eclectic community of businesses and makers and I was amazed to find myself in a Facebook group of 300+ members!  The Live Q&A sessions were extremely valuable as Emily answered individual questions on all kinds of issues – branding, lighting, equipment, styling, sojmetimes for nearly two hours. The amount of time given was much more generous than I had expected, and the Instagram feedback session (where individual feeds were reviewed) was particularly helpful, even though I wasn’t lucky enough to have been chosen.

Having been quite busy in the month with work and family commitments, I wasn’t able to go through every lesson or Live Q&A, so I’m very glad to be able to access those and the workbooks after the course finished. I’m sure I will be referring back to the lessons and continuing to build on the skills I’ve learned. The main benefit to me is that it has reawakened my love of photography and finding beauty in things around me – this is something I took great pleasure in a few years ago but had put aside for a while. I would really recommend this course to anyone who wants to develop their social media in a meaningful and enjoyable way.

The Makelight ‘Photography for Makers’ Course is due to start shortly or you can try the taster course for free.  Follow me on Instagram here .

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Children’s Makes

I’m playing catch up with a few makes so you’ll all have to bear with me while I race through them so I can get to the new stuff!  I have been posting some of them on Instagram so they might be familiar to anyone who follows me there.

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This skirt was made using a tutorial for a Flat Fronted Skirt found here on the Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom blog. I love this Dashwood cuckoo clocks print and it has been very versatile due to all the colours in the print.

 

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My daughter has worn it lots with coloured tights and bright cardigans.

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Didn’t realise the above shot was so moody but I still love her little poses!

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This is the Oliver and S Culottes pattern (from the Lunch Box Tee + Culottes set). I bought the Cotton and Steel apples print with a skirt in mind but thought this pattern would also work well.

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I cut a size 4 and the waist was a little big for her, but I cinched it with a row of hemming inside the waist seam. The box pleats are very cute and gives a very nice tailored look.

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She chose to wear this with red sparkly tights, an orangey-red cardigan and a cute Uniqlo x Liberty top. Bright and a bit over the top!

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This mirror from Bangladesh is her current obsession. She has her fads (like her mother!)

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These moments are rare but precious. The little one takes every opportunity to attack his sister, and he finds plenty of them! But he gets away with it thanks to his mischievous smile.

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See?!

He’s wearing the Oliver + S School bus Tee in a C. Pauli organic interlock from The Village Haberdashery. I wasn’t too hopeful as my printer scaled the pattern smaller and although I cut a 2T it was tiny and I realised too late. I used a 1/4″ seam and it fits, because he is small for his age. It won’t last too long though.

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So that’s a whistlestop tour of a few things I’ve made. I have also made a few clothes for myself which I will blog soon.

Flannel Pyjamas

These flannel pyjamas were all but made a year ago, with just buttonholes and the pyjama hems needed. I didn’t feel like getting my sewing machine out for a few months after we moved house, and hadn’t worked out how to do the buttonholes on my new Bernina machine. The buttonholes are actually far easier to do than on my Pfaff Select so once I sat down to finish it was very straightforward and quick.

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The fabric is Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent flannel. We already have some pyjama bottoms in circulation in a different print from this collection, and after a year or so they were in need of replacing. The fabric washes really well and doesn’t bobble too much. I tried to get the placement of the pocket to match the pattern underneath, as well as matching both sides and am pleased with the result.

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The pattern is from Sew Adorable which is a beautiful book with traceable full sized patterns for lots of useful and stylish children’s clothes including some dress-up and toys. I like the classic style of the patterns. The sizing only goes up to three so N won’t be getting anything else from this book but there are a few patterns I like for boys in there.

 

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The pyjama top was the most challenging part but the steps were fairly straightforward and well illustrated. Sadly she won’t fit into it after this winter but I might seek out another pyjama pattern for older children or even adults one day to make a family collection!

There are a few glimpses of our new house in the background – its not yet finished after over six months but feels like home now after several months of chaos!

Akita Top

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I just subscribed to Seamwork which is a brilliant sewing magazine. The best thing about it that you get two downloadable pattern credits a month, and all the patterns are designed to be quick to make. I have seen lots of these beautiful tops on Instagram and had looked at the link before but didn’t want to pay for the individual pattern. I used one of my credits to get this pattern and the second for the Moji trousers pattern. This is a link to subscribe to Seamwork which will give you the first month for half price, which makes it an even more amazing bargain!

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The fabric is organic cotton voile from the Palos Verdes collection, Cloud 9 fabrics. It is much lighter than most of the clothes I wear but is nice as a layer under a cardigan or for wearing at home instead of a t-shirt.

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I am not a huge fan of bias tape especially as I had to make it myself, but it didn’t actually take a terribly long time. I misunderstood the instructions and had to unpick the seam and the bias tape seams on one side which slowed me right down. I plan to make a couple more of these as I have a lot of one and two yard pieces of fabric in my stash. It is possible to make the top out of one yard of fabric by seaming at the shoulders.

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This is a straightforward pattern and I’m sure my second attempt will be quicker. I’m looking forward to trying more Seamwork patterns soon.

 

Why Muslim women should learn to sew

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I’ve been sewing on and off for about 10 years now and although I still consider myself an adventurous beginner I have found it to be a fulfilling and enjoyable creative process which has brought me a lot of pleasure. I have sewn my own clothes on occasion and many times for my children and feel I’m ready to take the next step and make more clothes for myself.

I’d like to share that process here as well as make it easier for other Muslim women to make their own clothes. I enjoyed watching Rumana‘s stellar performance on Great British Sewing Bee  – with some relief, as a friend applied on my behalf a few years ago and I didn’t make it past the interview stage! I don’t think I could have managed a lot of those challenges, especially in front of a camera. I also realised that there was a lot of interest in sewing and dressmaking, but that many people feel like it’s something that they won’t be able to do themselves.With the explosion of hijab blogging and modest fashion for Muslim women, I’ve often been interested but also feel that it taps into the disposable and commercial nature of fashion blogging – looking for the next thing to keep pulling in readers and continuing to perpetuate the myth of looking perfect and having endless clothes and accessories to wear, which most people can’t aspire to. In addition it occasionally doesn’t fit into the ethos of hijab and being less materialistic, but seems another way to display one’s sense of style. This is not by any means a criticism of all Muslim fashion bloggers, who I am often slightly intimidated by!

For myself, sewing is a creative pastime but is also very practical. I personally believe sewing is an essential life skill, in the sense of being able to hem a skirt or sew on buttons. In addition, there are a lot of other benefits, especially for Muslim women who feel they may have less choice on the high street (although many companies are remedying that – Inayah is my favourite). Here are some thoughts I had on the benefits:

  1. Choice – I hear a lot of people complaining about the length of sleeves,  lack of suitable ankle length skirts or dresses. For example, often the fabric and colour will be perfect but the neckline may be too low, or the dress may have short sleeves or a slit. By choosing to make your own clothes, the ball is in your court.
  2. Quality – By and large the quality of high street clothing is now quite poor compared to what it used to be. A lot of clothes in affordable shops are made of cheap synthetics which lose their shape, bobble or fade quickly. Your £15 could go on a beautiful organic cotton jersey rather than on a polyester blend t shirt.
  3. Ethical concerns – We should all be concerned about where our clothes come from. A friend of mine recently visited a clothing factory in Bangladesh run by a well respected organisation yet there were very young looking children laboriously embroidering clothes in silence. By making our own clothes, the labour involved is not a source of guilt, but a source of satisfaction.
  4. Cost – the cost of high street clothes is going up all the time, while the quality is decreasing. Sewing can be expensive or can save money depending on the fabric you buy, but there are many bargains to be had. I do believe that well made clothes are more equivalent to quality designer wear than the high street, without the price tag.
  5. It’s easy! – OK, haute couture is not easy to achieve but the majority of clothes most people will wear are simple to make. T-shirts, blouses, dresses and skirts are all achievable by beginners with the right pattern. There are also many free sewalongs which walk you through from beginning to end, making it even easier. You can also easily achieve much nicer finishes, such as French seams.
  6. Tailored to you – for me,  being shorter than your average European, shopping is often frustrating as sleeves and hems are too long, the waist is in the wrong place or pockets are too low for comfort. You can make clothes to fit you, rather than a standard size.
  7. Slow fashion – by making your own clothes, you appreciate the effort and work that went into them and treat them with more respect. While it’s not practical to assume you will make all your own clothes, throwaway fashion becomes less acceptable.

Convinced? I will be posting some patterns that are hijab friendly or easily adapted to be shortly. In the mean time, please use the hashtag #hijabisewist on Instagram or Twitter so we can find your posts!