Party Dress No. 2

I finally got round to making another party dress (by Cottage Mama) to match the one I made my eldest daughter a good couple of months ago!!

My motivation was my taking part in Sew Selfless September. This is my third and final piece of selfless sewing. (Not ever! Just for the challenge!)

*By the way, sorry for bombarding you with photos… I can’t choose the best ones!!*

party dress no. 2

I often make one thing using a pattern, and don’t use it again. This dress taught me that using a pattern again is great – I whizzed through it because of course I knew what I was doing.

If you read my post about my first party dress, you will know that I had some trouble with the alignment of the fairies. I was fussy; I wanted them all to line up. So I had some pieces cut from last time that I could use this time; just trimming the sides a little. That definitely sped up the cutting stage!


If I’m honest, I think it’s a tad tight around the bust – well, it’s OK for now, but there’s little or no growing room there.

This is probably because I decided to put in normal buttons, after having problems making that blessed rouleau loop that should have been made to make the loop style buttonholes. I even have the fancy turner tool, but it just wasn’t working.


So of course the bodice back pieces overlap slightly, which is included in the pattern. By this point, I’d already cut the pieces, so I wasn’t going to go back and make it bigger!

Little one needs to stop growing now anyway. She’s supposed to be my baby!


I really need to learn how to tie a proper, neat bow. Having said that, even if I did have that knowledge, I’m not too sure that she’d stay still for me to do it neatly. I can just about manage a scruffy bow before she wriggles away!


I just love this pattern. It’s so simple yet so rewarding. It’s such a classic party dress style. I was shopping earlier today and saw dresses similar to this (albeit not in such a cute print!) and thought to myself – do you know what, Beth? You don’t need to waste £15 on one of those, you can make one yourself. As long as you can find the right fabric, you can sew such pretty little girls’ dresses. And it’s such fun too – bonus!

It’s a shame that I’ve used almost all the fairies side of the duvet cover up now, though… I suppose it’s a good job I only have two girls to clothe in matching dresses!



I will definitely be using this pattern again. I love that it spans all the way up to Age 10. I can see many more party dresses in my girls’ wardrobe in the future… and they’re all handmade :) (Besides gifted ones, of course! We have a lovely family member who often gives the girls beautiful Monsoon dresses – now they’re something to compete with!)


Oh goodness, if either girl turns out to be a tomboy, I WILL NOT BE HAPPY!!P1080309

Anyway… I’m rather impressed with my topstitching. I don’t know if you can even see it but I’ll tell you – it’s neat! It’s all in the details :)


Well, that’s all I have to say about this dress really. There were many more highs than lows – no disasters, and I can’t even remember unpicking anything!! The phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ is proven correct – however I did now that it was already…. this just cements it further in my mind. Must make more garments with the same pattern!

Beth x


Sunday Sevens No. 2

It’s that time of the week again! Here I am to share seven snippets of my week with you.


I began cutting my (stretchy) fabric for my second lottie blouse, but I was excited so started doing it when little one was up. That was trying to say the least!



My daughter came home from school with these envelopes. I just love her spellings! [I think this was actually Monday but I forgot about Tuesday so I will pretend it was Tuesday...]

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Photographing my little one’s new dress, which will be blogged about on Tuesday!

sneek peek


A good chunk of my day was spent sitting in a queue at the petrol station. So I made the most of my time and snapped this pic of a massive tanker type vehicle that made me feel small. It only just about fitted under the roof!

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My lunchtime… little one eating beans with her hands whilst I get stuck into Tilly’s book. Lovely :)



My eldest had her first swimming lesson today. This was my view from upstairs… I could just about see them bobbing about in their hats! (For the record, she really enjoyed it once she got over me leaving her with a bunch of people she didn’t know!)

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Migraine. Missed out on the car boot sale! But my lovely daughter cheered me up:

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That’s it; my week wrapped up. I’ll be back on Tuesday to share my final make for Sew Selfless September :)

Til then… You may join Sunday Sevens anytime – I would be interested to have a nosey at your life! Just click the button below:

Grab button for SUNDAY-SEVENS

Beth x

A Rather Boring Men’s Sunglasses Case

A couple of weeks ago I pledged this:

I, Beth, of After Dark Sewing, pledge this Sew Selfless September to sew three items for three different people – one being my partner.

(As part of Sew Selfless September, hosted by the Sometimes Sewist.)

Well, I made my boyfriend something. I still feel a bit selfish, because it was so easy and simple. (The perfect beginner project!)

But I made something nonetheless. And he’s happy with it, so I don’t feel too guilty that I didn’t put in more effort to make something truly fabulous!

Of course if you read the title of this post you will know that it’s a sunglasses case!

Easy Beginner Project - A Sunglasses Case

The reason I say it’s rather boring is because a) it’s a relatively simple design, and b) it’s grey and plain. I’m itching to add some pretty embellishment! But it’s for a man, so…. it’s grey and plain. And woolly!

It is brighter inside, though (and that little tab); it’s spotty :) He’s even got some pink in there!


To make it, I followed the fabulous tutorial on Create.Craft.Love - however omitted the fusible fleece step because a) I don’t have any, and b) I used a chunky wool suiting fabric, which I think counteracts the need for the fleece (and I was right; it holds up well – hooray!)

This is an ideal project for beginners, because it involves straight stitching, clipping corners, pressing, turning, and a little topstitching. And then very soon you have a little item to be proud of! If you haven’t made a sunglasses case, why not?!


It turned out the perfect size for a pair of sunglasses – phew! When you’ve started dressmaking, it’s nice to make something simple like this sometimes. It gave me a break from unpicking!

Here’s a peek inside (excuse the loose threads… haha).


So there you have it.  A quick and easy little project for Sew Selfless September.

I have one more selfless project completed to share with you – but you will have to wait until next week. And don’t worry, this one took longer than five minutes to make!

Til then… happy sewing and enjoy making one of these if you do – we are forecast to have an Indian summer heading our way in October after all!!

Beth x


Sunday Sevens – My Week

Natalie @ Threads & Bobbins recently started this brand new link party called Sunday Sevens, where you share photos from each day of the week

I like randomness, so I thought I’d give it a go this week.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a very fascinating week, but you can gain a small insight into my life nonetheless


I don’t just sew. I made this all by myself. (From a flat pack, though, I will admit!)
I did have two very willing little helpers, of course. They mostly liked the door, with it’s magnetic clasp.
Photo taken before I loaded all our lotions and potions onto it

my new cabinet


The day went by in a flash. But evening time is sewing time…



I had a look around a few charity shops in the morning, and came away with two cot sheets at 99p each (100% cotton – they won’t be cot sheets for much longer!) And a cute fleece for the little one, which in hindsight I could have made myself if I found a nice fleecy fabric… but it was only £1.99 and so soft – I had to have it.
(Not much of a haul; it was rather disappointing, but admittedly I don’t really need anything anyway.)



There’s an age difference of almost 4 years between my girls.
It’s fairly rare that the two of them play nicely nowadays, since they always both want the same thing – so I do cherish the moments that this rarity occurs!



This sums up my week, basically. Excitement on EastEnders!!

friday - sunday sevens - eastenders


The weather turning dull = a trip to the library!

library books


Our weekly walk/bike ride to the car boot sale and park.

sunday sevens

I hope you enjoyed having a nosey at my life!

If you’d like to join in, click the button below:

Grab button for SUNDAY-SEVENS

Beth x

It’s an Apron for a Bottle!

Random? Yes. Unnecessary? Yes. Cute? Yes. Fun? Yes!

I came across this tutorial for these adorable washing-up-liquid bottle aprons on Pinterest (of course) and immediately pinned, knowing I had to have a go! How cute are they?! (photo pinched from ‘Hostess with The Mostess’)


So, this week, following my Sew Selfless September pledge, I had a go. Here she is! Don’t ask why the top turned out narrower than those in the photo. I guess I was meant to add a seam allowance; there was no mention of this in the tutorial. I think it looks cute regardless.

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It was quite a cool coincidence that my soap bottle is red and white too! (Unusual – normally it’s clear!)

It was really quick and simple to make. It would have been even quicker had I followed the instructions to the tee – but they involved glue, which I consider cheating!

Here’s the link to the tutorial if you fancy making your own. You will need to download the template, which you use to cut two pieces of fabric, and stitch them together. Perhapy add seam allowance if you want them to turn out wider than mine.

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This is the only bit of sewing that the instructions tell you to do… but of course I broke the rules slightly; instead of hot-gluing the ricrac and ribbons on, I hand stitched them. Anyone can glue, right? (Besides, I don’t own a hot glue gun!)

Here’s the ricrac around the bottom, and a bit also along the top (the top is just folded under, and I made sure to stitch right through to the back to secure it in place – whereas the piece around the bottom of the apron is stitched so that it isn’t visible at the back).

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And then once that was in place, I also hand stitched the two pieces of ribbon on:

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I wanted to finish it off with a little bow. I was just tidying up my explosion of ribbons after I’d found my tutorial on how to make the perfect bow, when I spotted a cute glittery gold readymade one sitting there on the table. It was fate.


And just to show it tied at the back… a perfect fit!


So, there we have it. My first totally selfless make for Sew Selfless September. I’ve posted this to my sister, purely because I am trying to be totally selfless. It’s a very random gift – there’s no occasion to celebrate. I purposely didn’t write a note explaining what it’s meant to be for. I wonder what she thought it might be…

I’ve already made my second make for SSS, but I’ll blog about it next week. It was also a quick sew and used less than a fat quarter of fabric, so if you’re after inspiration for quick and simple projects, this is the place to be at the moment! Til then, happy sewing everyone!

Beth x

A Bottle Apron!

Sew Selfless September

Wow, two posts from me in two days – aren’t you lucky!

This is just a quick one, though.

A few days ago I came across a post by Thread and Bobbins, where she pledged to sew selflessly in September, by making things for other people.

I now feel like it would be selfish not to participate…

So, I am joining. Without further ado, this is my pledge:

I, Beth, of After Dark Sewing, pledge this Sew Selfless September to sew three items for three different people – one being my partner.


Of course, I’m a bit late seeing as we’re nearly midway through September… but don’t panic. I didn’t pledge to make extra-special-stress-inducing-no-sleep-allowed projects. The items may not be fancy, but I WILL make THREE things for other people.

I have specified that one of the items will be for my partner. This is because I have never sewn anything for him before. There’s no way I’m making him clothes, but he may get a little accessory. I’m thinking phone case – but I might change my mind yet.

Of course, I do sew for others fairly often – my two daughters, especially. However, I have been meaning to make my youngest a party dress to match her sister’s – but I guess I have been selfish recently. Maybe I will do that this month. You will have to stay tuned and find out, because even I don’t know what’s going to happen…

Beth x

Sewing: What to Read

Since May this year, I have been writing monthly sewing articles for my local newspaper, in a bid to get the community sewing.

I thought I would share my latest article with you; you may find it useful too. Note this is aimed at beginner sewers!

Also note that I am not the most knowledgeable person about sewing books, for I only own a handful. I would like more, but can’t justify the purchases just yet. For example, I haven’t actually made a single thing out of Tilly’s book yet!

Sewing books

Sewing: What to Read

With so many books available, all claiming to help you learn to sew, it can be difficult choosing which to buy. I have compiled a short list of my recommended books to help narrow the choice down.

You can buy specialist books for every area of sewing; quilting; toy-making; dressmaking; soft furnishings; childrenswear, etc. To begin with, it’s worth purchasing one or two key books, which cover a range of techniques. You can then explore different areas to find what you are most interested in.

Last year I purchased Alison Smith’s ‘ The Sewing Book.’ I call it my sewing bible; it is a very comprehensive guide to sewing. It’s my go-to book when I need to learn a new technique, or jog my memory for a technique I haven’t used in a long time.

the sewing book

It gives you all the information you need to know, from the basics – the tools you need; how to cut fabric properly; different stitches – to hundreds of techniques; all with very clear photographs and instructions. It also has a quite a few good projects, so you can get started practising your new skills. I really love the glossary at the back, for there is a lot of sewing jargon to remember.

inside the sewing book

I have not read through the whole book – and don’t plan to. It’s not the kind of book you can read before bed; but it makes an excellent reference book. It’s one of the pricier books, but if you can get it on offer you will be laughing. I have also seen it in the library so it’s worth trying it out there first.

Here are two books that are more ‘project-heavy,’ but they are beautiful. They’re written by the queen of pretty sewing, Cath Kidston. I own both ‘Sew!’ and ‘Make!’ but there is another called ‘Stitch!’

sew! and make!

Sew! comes with free pre-cut fabric, buttons and a Cath Kidston label for you to make a floral shoulder bag, so it is good value for money. It also comes with a full-sized pattern sheet; you do not need to bother with enlarging patterns and templates, which I have seen in other books. The book details some techniques at the start of the book, which are useful, but nowhere near as comprehensive as those in The Sewing Book. The projects in this book are nice (mostly homewares and bags), and apparently they are suitable for beginners to advanced sewists. However I have made up a few of them myself and found the instructions quite vague in places, so they may not suit a real beginner.

inside sew!

Make! is similar; again it demonstrates a few techniques and has lots of projects for you to try. It comes with a free cotton tote bag, pencil and an embroidery skein, so you can get started beautifying the bag – provided you have some fabric. This book is not so much about sewing from scratch, but adding designs (mostly embroidered) to ready-made items. An example is ‘flower-trimmed pajamas’ – you are not taught how to make pajamas, but how to embroider little flowers onto your own plain pajamas. I personally prefer Sew!, but if you are interested in needlework, and decorating things you already own, Make! is worth checking out.

inside make!

If you would prefer to actually make your own pajamas, I would recommend Tilly Walnes’s new book, ‘Love at First Stitch.’ Tilly was a contestant on last year’s The Great British Sewing Bee, and she writes an amazing blog called Tilly and the Buttons. Her book focusses on dressmaking, and it’s brilliant.


Tilly writes in very simple terms, and I think the layout of the book is one of the best I’ve seen. It’s laid out in a very sensible order; she begins at the beginning. Meaning, she takes you as a beginner dressmaker through the basics, starting with a simple scarf project, and as you work your way through the book you learn more advanced skills to make more advanced garments. You finish with an impressive dress, featuring pleats, darts, lining, and a belt. If it’s dressmaking you want to do, I urge you to buy this book!

Inside Tilly's book

There are loads more books out there – of course I haven’t come across them all myself. These are just a small pick of the best, in my opinion.

If you would prefer not to fork out on new books, but have access to the internet, I would recommend you join Pinterest. It’s a fantastic resource for finding websites offering advice, explaining techniques, and even giving free tutorials, patterns and templates. It’s a must for all creative people, but be warned – it can get addictive!

That’s it!

I own more books than those few; I had to stop somewhere. So for you, I will write up a bit about the others I have.

The loveliest book I own is Handmade Glamping, which is a beautiful book of gorgeous projects. Oh, I’m just flicking through it now… the things are so pretty!


It’s not strictly a sewing book as it dabbles in many crafts – there’s a fair amount of crochet in there, and other projects like this clay bunting!

inside handmade glamping

So it’s ideal for those who don’t just sew. I haven’t learnt to crochet yet – I did give it a go many years ago, but didn’t have the patience at that time to progress. I should use this book to learn, shouldn’t I? There are beautiful things in there. I think I’ve made it clear this book is pretty?!

inside handmade glamping

I also own Sewing: In No Time, and Quilting: In No Time.

sewing & quilting in no time books

I would say these books are aimed more at the intermediate sewer; the instructions can be a little vague. Nevertheless, I have made quite a few of the projects and they’ve always turned out well.

The cushion here was the inspiration for my ribbon offcuts cushion, in fact! (This is from Sewing: In No Time.)

inside sewing in no time

And an example of one of the projects I’ve made from Quilting: In No Time is another cushion. I have made a few of the patchwork cushions – they’re great!

inside quilting in no time

Finally, I have one little book full of different embroidery stitches. It’s one of those classic books you will always refer to – a bit like a dictionary.

freestyle embroidery stitches

I don’t do much embroidery work, but it’s a very well written book, with clear diagrams, so I will always hold onto it as it is difficult to remember how to do every type of stitch! There are also quite a few cute templates in the back, which will be useful.

inside embroidery book

And that’s it for my tour of my little library!

Do you have any recommendations of books for me? There are a few new ones out by The Great British Sewing Bee stars – but you know, I don’t want a whole collection of books that have a good chunk taken up by techniques that I already know. I do own the sewing bible, after all! So I’d like books with good projects in, that I can’t just find online.  Hmm…

Beth x