Liberty, Oh Liberty.

On Wednesdays there is a big market in the centre of Oxford. You can find foods from around the world, fruit and veg, antiques, homewares, habadashery – and a really friendly man selling genuine Liberty fabric.
He has bolts and bolts of it – the choice is unbearable.
So I finally bought my first ever Liberty fabrics! I managed to hold back on buying the whole stall and only bought 2 metres – I see it as lucky that I had to catch my bus!
I chose these:


The top one is jersey; the other is cotton.

The price? £8 per metre. Amaaazing for Liberty – however more than I usually spend on fabrics. So I hope they are as good as they are said to be!

Of course, I didn’t buy with an idea of what to make, so I thought I’d ask you lovely people – what shall I make?! A totally open question!!

I have 1m of each – so probably some tops?! I want to use it soon because my stash is seriously overflowing and I need to justify my purchases!

There’s too much choice nowadays…

What can I make with 1m of floral jersey?


And 1m of cotton lawn?


Thank you for any suggestions!

Beth x

Simple Sew English Tea Dress *Cap Sleeves Tutorial*

Recently I joined forces with a few other bloggers to make up a blogging team for Simple Sew patterns. How exciting! I will be sharing some tutorials for their patterns. I hope that you will find them useful!

First up what do you think of the fabric I chose?

Art Gallery fabric (Whitetree)

Beautiful, right? It’s called ‘Wild and Free Luminous Field’ – from Whitetree Fabrics. Click the logo below to be taken to the page on their website to buy!

White-tree-logo Master

Now on to the tutorial. I’m just going to share the cap sleeves part today – I will share photos of the entire finished dress ASAP. Head over to Laura After Midnight’s blog if you want a detailed tutorial of the whole dress – minus the cap sleeves!

There are no instructions for the cap sleeves in the pattern. So this is the way that I did it – I am sure there are more ways to insert them; in fact I came up with a few – but this is my preferred method. Please READ THROUGH all the instructions before starting! If you are stumped by anything, just leave a comment and I will help!

You will be using the sleeve type marked ‘Option C’ on the pattern paper. If tracing, ensure that you mark the notch, and where the gathering marks are.

Simple Sew cap sleeves pattern piece

Then cut the sleeves out of your fabric, transferring the marks as well. I use a pen to make a little dash where the wiggly gather symbol starts and ends; that’s all you need.

Simple Sew Tea Dress

You may notice that the sleeve does not go all the way round the armscye. You will be left with a gap of a few inches, at the front.

So, to fill that gap, we can use some bias binding. I’m quite a fan of bias binding; it’s so versatile and pretty easy to use.

You don’t need an awful lot; I used 75cm. (I also bound the shoulder seams with it.) You can either make your own out of the fabric you’re using (or any other fabric), or buy pre-made. There are plenty of tutorials online explaining how to make your own!

I think it’s best to hem the sleeves with bias binding, because of the way they’re curved. So before sewing the sleeves to the bodice, attach the bias binding to the hems of the sleeves (this is the edge with no notch on):

  1. Open out your bias binding and pin to the WRONG side of the sleeve.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

2. Sew together along the crease line.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

3. Flip the bias binding over to the RIGHT side, and, still on the RIGHT side, sew in place close to the inner edge of the bias binding.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Once you’ve done this on both sleeves they should look like this (right and wrong sides):

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

In terms of the construction of the dress so far, you should be up to step 5 or 6 (it doesn’t matter if you have sewn the bodice to the skirt panels or not, which is step 6). You should have:

  1. Sewn in the four darts
  2. Sewn the shoulder seams
  3. Attached the facing

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

So we are inserting the sleeves BEFORE sewing the side seams.

First you need to gather the small section at the sleeve head, between the marks:

  1. Set your sewing machine to the longest stitch length.
  2. Sew two lines of stitching about 3/8″ and 5/8″ away from the raw edge, between the marks.
  3. Pull the bobbin threads of the stitching, to create lots of little gathers. You can pull them quite tight as you will be creating some sweet little gathers at the top of the sleeve. You’ll spread them out a little later to fit the armsyce accurately.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Now you’re ready to insert the sleeves.

Take one sleeve and lay it RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER on top of the corresponding armscye of the bodice, matching the single notch.

Pin the sleeve to the bodice from the notch to the edge.

 Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Then pin the opposite side; start at the end, which will lay right up to the side seam. Pin until you get to the gathered section.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Pull the gathers until the sleeve piece fits snugly in place, and pin the remaining gap.

Now you’re ready to sew. Starting from the edge where the sleeve and bodice meet (forget about extra few inches for now), sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance all the way to the end. Take your time to ensure there are no puckers!

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Wa-hey; that’s one sleeve inserted. Now repeat with the other!

Now to finish off, we just need to tidy up those few inches. Take your bias binding – you will attach it to the seam allowance in a slightly different way to how you attached it to the hem of the sleeves.

  1. Open out your bias binding and pin to the RIGHT side of the sleeve, with a 5/8″ SEAM ALLOWANCE. (Don’t put the bias binding right up to the edge of the fabric, or you’ll risk the armsyce being too tight!) Sew along the crease line of the bias binding. Note: you can either bind just the gap of a few inches [just stop when you’re past the gap], or bind the seam allowance of the sleeve too. I chose to bind the seam allowance as I like the finish inside.

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

2. Trim the seam allowance of the bodice/sleeve flush against the bias binding.

3. Flip the bias binding over to the WRONG side, and EITHER slipstitch (by hand) the bias binding down, OR stitch in the ditch (from the RIGHT side!) [I slipstitch!]

Simple Sew Tea Dress Tutorial

Give the sleeve/bodice a good press, and unpick any visible gathering stitches from the sleeve head.

Ta-dah, that’s it! :)

Simple Sew English Tea Dress

This is what the inside will look like if you sewed the bias binding all the way round like I did:

Simple Sew English Tea Dress

Neat, huh?

And this is what the bodice looks like on! (Excuse the towel on my head; I haven’t dyed my hair purple!!)

Simple Sew English Tea Dress

I hope that this made sense – please do let me know if something’s confusing, and I will answer any questions you have if you’re making the dress.

Beth x


A Matching Three Piece!

Hello! I’m back to the land of wifi, blogging and sewing, after a lovely trip camping in South Wales. BEAUTIFUL area, and we had nicer weather than England did, would you believe it?! But now I’m back to normality; time to share something.

S, my eldest, has a new dress. She’s so happy! [Her top front tooth fell out a couple of days before I took the photos…! I’m just starting to get used to seeing that big gap now!]

Blue Ridge Dress

Do you recognise the pattern? It’s the Blue Ridge Dress – the brand new pattern by Hello Holli.

You may remember that I made one, as a pattern tester, for A. I am still in love with this dress; I put her in it an awful lot!

So I just had to make one for her big sister. This time the fabric is still cute but a tad more grown-up. She chose it; aghhh she’s growing up now, making her own fashion choices!

Blue Ridge Dress

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that she also has a matching headband and bag. More on them later…

I had 1m of the adorable owl fabric, which was enough to make it in her size. Which is Age 3! She’s 6!! Little skinny minny. It fits her perfectly around her chest. I was going to lengthen it a tad but I wouldn’t have been able to, so I made the most of the generous 6cm hem allowance and turned it up just 2cm. I think it’s fine for a summer dress!

I used up all the scraps immediately, which I was pretty impressed with. I decided on the spot to make a matching headband and bag. I actually made these before the dress – I love quick projects!

Blue Ridge Dress

I totally made up how to make the bag as I went along… I just cut shapes out of what fabric I had – and that was the size the bag was to be! It turned out narrow and long so I improvised with a flappy foldover top. Unique, hey?!

Floppy bag

The handle’s ends are enclosed in the side seams. It was cut from the length of fabric I had; and it turned out pretty perfect! To say she is happy with her bag would be an understatement.

Blue Ridge Dress

She’s also really happy with her headband – I just measured the sizes against one she already owns. It’s as wide as it could be due to the fabric available!

S chose the button on the dress. And I chose the red binding. I think we did pretty well design-wise!

This time round, instead of stitching the binding in the ditch, I slipstitched it by hand on the inside. This takes that bit longer, but I love the finish.

S's Blue Ridge Dress

A final back shot:

Blue Ridge Dress

Has anyone else got this pattern yet? If not and you have girls under 14 – why not?!

Beth x

P.S. Yes, she did enjoy posing for these photos!

A quick skirt and a quick post!

I’ll start by apologising for the dreadful photos in this very quick post!! It’s the summer holidays and I don’t have a lot of spare time!

This is my greatest dressmaking achievement of late – and it’s not even great.

skater skirt

It’s the Skater Skirt from issue 12 of Love Sewing magazine.

I like it, but I did lose interest when I realised that it’s too big. I made the smallest size, so if I want to make another I’ll have to grade the pattern down. That should be pretty simple seeing as the pieces are very basic shapes.

[FYI in the photo below, the mark on my top is from the camera!!]

skater skirt

The reason why I didn’t take it in before finishing is that it has pockets – yay! – and I couldn’t even be bothered to think about how to take the sides in with pockets there… So I just left it as it is and am calling it a muslin!

skater skirt pockets

It’s dead comfy, so it is wearable and I will wear it – but only around the house!

I got the purple jersey from my local-ish fabric store. They have a very limited supply of dressmaking fabrics – they do stretch to a few plain jerseys and this was one of them. I’m happy with the quality of it and the colour’s nice; this photo shows it a little more accurately as the camera’s flash lightened it in the above pics!

skater skirt

I’m glad I didn’t use an expensive jersey with a pretty print!

Well that’s all I have to say about this very basic skirt… I do recommend the pattern – if it fits you! :)

I must make one of my daughters a skirt or something with the leftovers. One day!

Beth x

P.S. I’ve been dreadful at reading blogs recently so I’m so sorry if I have missed your posts… I’m trying to keep up but you know what it’s like… don’t take it personally! <3

2015 Sewing Goals [6 Month Check]

OK, we’re nearly 7 months through the year but I planned on doing this at the end of June and time flew by…

Those of you who have been with me a while may remember me setting myself some sewing goals at the start of the year. This is quite a popular thing to do in the blogosphere. (I wonder how everyone else is getting on?)

So now I think it’s time I checked over my progress so far this year. There’s nothing like a bit of public declaration to spur me on to completing them all…

Here are the things I proposed to accomplish this year:

Sew something every week. Finish a project and start another. Just keep sewing all year!

Yes, I’m definitely on track with this. In fact I have too many on the go…

Use A LOT of the fabric from my stash before buying new. This means I need to make some small things because I have a lot of fabric about the size of fat quarters but not a lot that’s bigger than 1m. I don’t have a big stash compared to a lot of other bloggers, but I also don’t have a big house!!

Ummm….. I might quietly pass this one. I have acquired some huge mountains these last couple of months!! In fact the postman just delivered me 4 more metres…

Make a quilt. That’ll use some small bits up :)

Whoops, I’ve not started this yet. Only 5 months to go until my deadline. Will I do it?!

Refashion a few items I have hanging around – a (stretchy!) maxi skirt, a sweatshirt, some t-shirts.

I have done a bit of refashioning. I refashioned that sweatshirt, and some jeans into girls’ dungarees. I think that’s all I’ve done! I was going to start refashioning the maxi skirt into kids’ leggings but abandoned it before I even started cutting!

Make my daughter a costume for World Book Day instead of sticking her in a ready-made one (unless her favourite book is genuinely one of which she already owns a costume for!) [Never have I done this!]

Hooray, a bit fat YES! I did this! If you weren’t following me back in March, you have to see this!

Elmer Dressing Up Outfit for World Book Day

Sew with knits. Make a Coco dress and/or top like everyone else in the sewing world!

I made a Coco dress! I’ve made a Plantain top, a wiggle dress and a Morris blazer. I’ve just made a skater skirt in a lovely rich purple jersey that I’ll share with you one day!

Try some embroidery. The little bundle of embroidery skeins that came in my Sewing Santa gift really was the little push I needed to try embroidery. I have embroidered in the past – years ago – but I have never actually embroidered a whole picture. I have done some little cross stitches in the past, actually… you can make really sweet motif etc., can’t you. And I will this year!

I have made some progress with this. I sewed this sweet hoop in lazy daisy stitch months ago but never got round to sharing it!

embroidered two little birds

The link for the free pattern I used is here if you’re interested! I used lazy daisy stitch, French knots, and bog-standard back stitch for it.

embroidered little birds

You may have seen my embroidery on my sister’s apron, too, and my daughter’s dungarees. Oh, and the cute flowers on the skirt I spent ages on only to find I’d messed up the sizing!

I should sit down and embroider something again soon, because it’s nice and relaxing!

And a bit of studying when my hands need a rest: learn more about different fabric types. I learnt everything in school but remember very little of the jargon now. I do find it hard to buy the right fabric for dressmaking.

I think I’m getting more knowledgable about different fabric types. I think it’s partly due to me buying a lot!!

I think that’ll do! Oh, one more – finish a project before starting another one!! Ha, I will try!

Erm, I certainly haven’t achieved this one! But I didn’t think I would. Which sewist actually does?!


I don’t think I’ve done too badly.

Must start work on that quilt, though!

And stop buying fabric!

Beth x

S’s Sewing Diaries

Hello! I think it’s about time I updated you on S, my 6-year-old’s, sewing adventures.
She has made two more things on her little yellow sewing machine since I shared her teddy, Mr Buttons, with you.
Firstly, and quite some time ago, she made a string of padded hearts. This is what one of you lovely people recommended she makes!

Padded hearts

This kept her occupied for a good couple of hours. She spent ages choosing fabrics from my scrap bag and cutting hearts out.

She made them by sewing wrong sides together – no fiddly turning right-side-out – leaving a gap, stuffing, then sewing up the gap.

Padded heart

I rather like the shabby chic look of them!

I helped her string them together (I punched a hole in each with a hole punch (LOL) and threaded some twine through!)

padded hearts

She’s really happy with them and they are hung on the back of her dining chair!

padded hearts

Then last week she wanted to make some clothes for her best friend, Teddy. She wanted to make a top or a dress but I managed to persuade her to make a skirt that doesn’t need fastenings.

So she made a simple elasticated skirt – and it’s so darn cute!

Teddy's skirt

Featuring the cute animal fabric for the third time in a row on this blog! It must be almost finished now… I only had about 80cm of it – we’ve done well with it.

teddy's skirt

I helped her with pressing the casing and hem (helped her as in I did all of it…) and she did the sewing.

I think she did really well considering she hasn’t learnt to sew in straight lines yet!! I just had to unpick a bit once as it’s pretty important to keep the line of stitching on the casing straight so that the elastic will fit in!

teddy skirt

She wanted to add a ribbon bow – in pink, because it’s Teddy’s favourite colour. So before inserting the elastic, she sewed a long piece of ribbon starting in the middle, going all around to the middle again. We placed it just under the casing and I think it worked rather well! She used a zigzag stitch because that’s much more fun than a boring straight stitch, isn’t it?

I threaded the elastic for her as she got in a tizz about that, but she did do the majority of it!

teddy skirt

Now she wants to make a top because of course Teddy can’t go topless. Hmm I guess we could make something with Velcro to fasten at the back….

Keep an eye out for the next instalment of S’s Sewing Diaries!!

Beth x

Baby Doll Nappies & Wipes

After all the dressmaking recently I have felt the need to make some smaller, quick projects. I have wanted to make some cloth nappies for my daughters’ dolls for some time now – so I did that last week!
(By the way, if you’re not British… by nappies I mean diapers!!)

Modelled by Baby Annabell, this is nappy number one:

baby doll nappy

Yeah – you don’t get much cuter than this!

It was dead simple to make – literally two pieces of fabric sewn together, pop on some Velcro and Bob’s your uncle!

baby doll nappy

doll nappy

The inspiration came from a guest post on Craftaholics Anonymous. You have to make your own pattern, but it’s not hard.

Of course I had to make one more for when this one is dirty…

doll nappy

I can’t get enough of this cute fabric! (It’s what my Blue Ridge Dress is made of if you can’t put your finger on where you’ve seen it!)

The nappies are lined with a really fluffy fabric. Now, the tutorial recommends you use minky. I am all for recycling, upcycling, repurposing, etc. etc. – so mine are made with an old dressing gown. I think it’s better than expensive minky!

Finally, the tutorial tells you how to make a sweet little wipe case and wipes. It’s a very simple project – great if you’re lazy like me and can’t be bothered to figure out the best sizing!

The wipes are made with the dressing gown’s hood lining, which is a flannel/brushed cotton kind of fabric. They are fraying a bit, but who cares?!

doll wipes

doll wipes

So this was all cheap to make, with stuff I already had. And they’re going down well with my girls, so all’s good. I do love a cheap, quick and easy project every once in a while.

Beth x