Tag Archives: giveaways

Playing with a new silhouette + Sew Essential £25 Fabric Giveaway

My BV Sewalong post saw me playing with a different silhouette for me. Culottes and a crop top. (We’ll skim over the double denim element for now!) Being a long time lover of skinny jeans and long baggy tops, I never thought I’d say that.  I mentioned in that post that it was a silhouette I was interested in exploring further.  Actually for a while I’ve been pinning images that are different to the style I’ve been used to wearing. And yet up until now, my makes haven’t fully been reflecting this “interest” in evolving my style. Why….when I could pretty much make myself whatever I want, do I still fall back on skinnifying jeans and making oversized drapey tops?? It’s a safe bet for getting worn is why. I mean, who wants to spend time experimenting on something that may or may not get worn, when you could be making yourself another drapey tee that will definitely get worn??

Well I’ve decided I do. I’m feeling the need to bust out of a style rut. I’m not short on Me Made clothes in my usual style, and it’s time to try something new. So this week I’ve been playing a bit. Not over committing my time of course 😉 Two super quick projects to test out a slightly adapted version of that silhouette. I refashioned a sweatshirt into more cropped proportions….culottes in portia fabric by john kaldor

Then using the same pattern I hacked for my denim culottes, I whipped up a super quick stretchy version in this monochrome fabric by John Kaldor. (Scrowl down for deets on the Sew Essential giveaway!) As you can see I made absolutely no attempt at pattern matching. I’m mildly annoyed at myself for this. But these were an experiment first and foremost and only ever intended for mooching and lounging.  A wearable toile. So I can live with that 😉culottes in portia fabric by john kaldor

They are just the right kind of stretch. And to ramp up the speed, ease and comfort factor I gave them a simple elasticated waist..kinda like culotte pyjamas…but the kind of pyjamas you could get away with nipping to the corner shop in….culottes in portia fabric by john kaldor

So….what can I conclude from this little experiment? Don’t be a donut and take 5 minutes to stripe match. This pattern can work in a knit too! But most importantly, I now know this is a silhouette that works on me and I feel comfortable in. So let the culotte and (marginally) cropped top sewing begin! If you follow me on IG you’ll have seen that I’m already playing with ideas for a cropped and semi fitted sweatshirt. I’m also looking to pick up where I left off with these trousers as an alternative to the bottom half. I’ve cropped them to the lower calf and now they’re perfect. So another pair or two of those. Oh, and I’m gonna have a play with my Copycat Crepe Top pattern and try some shorter variations! I can feel some exploration and experimentation coming on 😉culottes in portia fabric by john kaldor

The pattern I used for this and my denim culottes is this New Look 6083. It’s a really simple wide leg trouser pattern which I hacked fairly majorly for the denim ones but kept simple on this version. Most impressively the fit was pretty spot on straight out of the envelope. The fabric is from Sew Essential and is by John Kaldor and get this…..it’s called Portia!! In fact there’s a whole range of fabric by that name, lol! Well I had to didn’t I 😉


If you want to win  £25 to spend on fabric at Sew Essential:
  • Leave a comment below to let me know which fabric you would choose from their selection
  • For additional entries follow Sew Essential on  Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  (Make sure you let me know in the comments so I can put your additional entries into the hat!)
  • Giveaway closes midnight GMT on Sunday 10 April 2016 and is open internationally.

Good luck!

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The Big Vintage Sewalong: Vogue 9082 + Pattern Giveaway

The Big Vintage Sewalong

When I was contacted and asked if I would like to participate in The Big Vintage Sewalong…I of course said yes. It’s in aid of a fantastic charity AND since I preach alot with The Refashioners about “pushing yourself out of your comfort zone” being a good thing, I figured I should really put my sewing machine where my mouth is. Regular readers will know, vintage….and feminine…is clearly out of my comfort zone!  So the pattern I selected may come as a surprise. Don’t get me wrong here…had there been the option of a 70’s or 80’s pattern that involved trousers that would have been much more up my strata. But the selection of patterns that form part of the fundraising element of the event, are resolutely feminine and all pre 70’s. So I was left with the challenge of interpreting a very feminine silhouette…in a way that wouldn’t betray my own style aesthetic and what I feel comfortable in…

The Big Vintage Sewalong

I think the key with ANY sewing pattern is to look past the styling on the pattern  envelope and start looking at the fundamental form and proportions of the pieces. What is the essence of this silhouette? For me it is the cropped proportions of the top, how it hits at the narrowest part of the waist and is complemented by a bottom half that is high waisted and fitted around the waist and hips. This is a style that reoccurs throughout fashion decades. Not least today, where cropped tops and high waists are re-emerging as a fashion favourite…The Big Vintage Sewalong

Image 1, 2, 3 and 4

It’s a silhouette that I have been tentatively interested in exploring. I say tentatively because as a a 40 something mother of one…my waistline in no way resembles the waistlines above, lol! No matter. There are ways around that. That’s the beauty of sewing our own right? Adapting to suit us!

Another timeless “trend” that I have been obsessing about recently is denim! More specifically….gasp…..double denim!! (NEVER thought I would say that!) Denim is not new of course but it  is very prominent right now. And I am obsessed! As soon as I saw vogue 9082 I knew that denim would lend an air of modernity to the vintage silhouette…PicMonkey Collage

image 1, 2, 3, and 4

So that’s what I went for!

I knew the pencil skirt was not me (If it is your thing there is nothing stopping you from making up the dress in denim and/or adapting it to a highwaisted skirt too!). So, I opted to take the top from the pattern and make that up in denim. As I said, I graded between sizes cutting smaller at the shoulders and larger at the waist. I also lengthened  it to hit in the most flattering place for me. Then retaining the essence of “high waisted and fitted in the waist and hips” I hacked a simple wide leg trouser pattern and turned them into denim culottes…The Big Vintage Sewalong

I used a 9oz denim from Remnant Kings (see sidebar to right for exclusive discount code) for both pieces. For the culottes adding jean details like a fly front, rivets, pockets and contrast topstitching in a retro orange. Then tying in those design elements with the top by adding the same contrast stitching to that too. Essentially the same silhouette from the hips up…the same concept of having a matching set…but the variation knocks it up a decade with a 70’s vibe that is much more my style…The Big Vintage Sewalong

For me, a vintage sewing pattern is like any other. It’s about interpreting the basic shapes to suit you. That’s the point of sewing for me. But I am very pleased to have been pushed out of my comfort zone with this.  As I said, this is a silhouette that I’ve tentatively been interested in exploring, but I probably wouldn’t have gone this far with it had I not been faced with this pattern. And now?  Now I’m thinking this may become my staple silhouette for the summer. It’s much more “exposing” of my figure than the coverall long tops and skinny jeans that I traditionally favour. But I feel surprisingly comfortable, and dare I say, a little more feminine in this. You’ll definitely be seeing more of this silhouette from me in the coming weeks. So thank you McCalls for asking me to take part and pushing me out of my comfort zone! I love the result!

Vintage patterns are interesting in terms of proportions.  Just as body shape changes over decades, so does a pattern draft. The waist on this in proportion to the shoulders was tiny. Late 50’s early 60’s pattern? Huge boobs tiny waist. I don’t have the tiny waist. So I had to grade to the larger size at the waist. But I do have some boobage in tow….and the interesting thing to me about this pattern was the dart intake was perfect and there was no need for an FBA! On a modern pattern there’s no way I would have gotten away with that on a semi fitted top like this! Food for though right?? MAYBE I have a 1950’s bust!

The other great thing about Vintage patterns is that no matter what the trend, they’ve been there, seen it, done it. Some styles are timeless and as we know, trends are cyclical. Just check out these. Vintage patterns…Modern trends…

Culottes comparison

image 1, 2, and 3


Image 1. 2, and 3

Jumpsuit comp

Image 1, 2, and 3


Image 1, 2, and 3

So…Vintage patterns…not to be ruled out obvs! Especially if your bod is more 1950’s than modern day.  Silhouettes and basic styles can be brought bang up to date with the use of unexpected fabrics like denim in this case….but oh….can’t you see that ensemble made up in some rad scuba or interesting digital print??

The Big Vintage Sewalong

You can purchase this pattern along with a selection of other vintage lovelies as part of this campaign and all proceeds will go to The Eve Appeal.

If you would like to be entered into a draw to win a copy of this Vogue 9082 pattern then you can do that too! To enter hop over the The Eve Appeal website and do something to help them raise awareness or funds for combatting women’s cancers. Whether that is sharing their message on your social media, making a small donation or signing up to their newsletter, or just reading their guides and getting yourself clued up on the signs for yourself. Do something, then hop back here and leave a comment and you’ll be entered into the draw. Giveaway is open internationally and closes Midnight GMT on Friday 1st April.   **GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED**

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Giveaway: Nominette Custom Woven Labels

A couple of weeks back I was contacted by a representative of custom label specialist Nominette, asking if I would like to try out and review their product. Well naturally, I said yes and last week these arrived in the post….NOMINETTE LABEL GIVEAWAY

I was a bit indecisive about what to put on my custom labels. Although their custom label service provides the opportunity to stamp your “brand” on your makes (maybe with a blog name, or a logo), I don’t really see myself as having a brand, and I don’t have a logo as such.  There’s also the option to add fabric content and laundry instructions to your label. If you’re going into production this is of course, a fantastic option. Except for me, the things that I make are usually one offs, the fabrics vary, and they’re certainly not “production” quality…they’re better than that; they’re handmade by me and with all their little quirks and “faults” they are completely one of a kind.

So I opted for a simple little message that will remind me of this every time I put on a handmade garment….NOMINETTE LABEL GIVEAWAY

It’s simple. But it says it right? (I also wanted a generic statement so that I could split these up and give some away!) I went for a very simple design. A 25mm end fold label.  I chose the Helvetica font option (there are 5 standard font options available). The background colour I chose was beige/903 with text in grey/12.   I feel duty bound to point out that the colour of the finished label is very different from the screen colour on the site. And while they do state this clearly when making your selection, the difference is quite a big one. (You can hop on the site and pop in those options to see what I mean).

However, and somewhat fortuitously I actually LOVE the final colour of these labels. Much more so than the screen colour actually. So absolutely not complaining. I think they look subtle and elegant, and when you think about how they are woven, then the colour you choose for your text must subtly affect the overall colour of the finished ribbon. I’m calling this a very happy accident indeed!NOMINETTE LABEL GIVEAWAY

As you can see….I got alot of labels! The minimum order quantity is 100 at a cost of £37 inc VAT. (There are much cheaper options than this. The 14mm ribbon for instance comes in at just over  £16 for 100 labels). I actually think the 37p per label cost is pretty good value for money. I’m pretty impressed by the quality it has to be said. These will definitely add a touch of luxury to my future makes!

As a home sewer, and not a particularly prolific one at that, I pondered a little on the concept of ordering 100 labels in one go. If I make, say, 3 or 4 garments a month, it would take me 2-3 years to get through these labels.   Objectively I have to ask myself the question, had I not been offered these for free, would I have ordered labels in that quantity? (I understand completely btw that making these available in smaller quantities would exponentially increase the unit price. Simple maths).  Initially, I would likely have said no. But now that I’ve seen them, maybe. Like I say, the quality is great. I also think it depends how you look at it.  If you buy something that’s gonna last you 2-3 years, that’s not bad going actually, is it?  There was also some discussion when I posted about these on Instagram about the quantity and the initial outlay.  And a potential solution to that dilemma would be a kind of label co-op. Get together with a fellow sewist (or a few sewists) agree on a simple design, and split the quantity and cost.  Which seems like an awesome idea to me. Overall I think they are decent value for money, good quality, and the service is fast and efficient. While I think that smaller minimum order quantities would be preferential for us home sewers, there are cheaper options available and/or ways around the quantity issue if you box clever….NOMINETTE LABEL GIVEAWAY

So yeah, I’m not going to hold onto all 100 of these labels myself.  I’m going to create a little label co-op! I count myself as quite fortunate to be offered the occasional freebie to review and it just seems right, and nice, for me to share the love with my fellow stitchers a little. So I have set aside 3  x 20 labels to giveaway. I don’t want any “follows” or “sign up to this or that” in return. Just let me know in the comments if you fancy a set of these labels to finish off your handmade garments and you’ll be entered into the giveaway.  At the end of the week (Midnight GMT on Friday 18th March) I’ll pick 3 names randomly and each will receive 20 labels. Simples. Giveaway is open internationally….good luck!   **GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED**

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FO: The poshest pyjamas ever (+ a double Giveaway!!)

I don’t think I’m alone in feeling the need to “snuggle down” on winter evenings. And to be fair, on a weekend, I’d rather just lounge around in something comfortable than get properly dressed if I’m not going out anywhere; but equally I don’t want to look a total state when answering the door to take in the inevitable swathe of parcels that are arriving here ready for Christmas wrapping!

Enter the comfiest, most luxurious “pyjama” set I think I have ever owned! In fact they’re a little too luxurious to be called pyjamas. Let’s go all Margot Ledbetter and call them “loungewear”, lol!wendy ward pyjamas

The luxurious element comes in part from the style of these trousers but also the use of this delicious modal and silk mix jersey from Fabric Godmother. I’ve used the slate colourway (also comes in teal, plum & burnt orange) here in combination with a small amount of marl jersey in stone. It’s always tricky to relay the feel of a fabric in a blog post. Both of these jerseys are soft and drapey and similar in weight. But the terms were surely invented for the  modal silk jersey. My oh MY! Gah! SOOOO soft. The picture bottom right shows the underside and you should just be able to make out that it has a slight “fluff” to the underside. Yeah….the side that sits on your skin…I’m in love…fabric godmother jersey

In terms of working with it, it’s very stretchy. Hence the amazing drape. But that also means playing with your serger settings. I upped my differential feed half a notch to combat some slight stretching out under the presser foot (the marl is more stable). My Janome hates stretchy knits. Like crazy hates them. So I didn’t go there. (The tee and trouser hems are left raw on my makes).

Beginners Guide to Dressmaking - T Shirt

The Top and trousers are both from Wendy Ward’s “The Beginner’s Guide to Dressmaking” book. It’s a book that focuses on simple styles that are simple to sew which regular readers will know puts Wendy and I firmly in the same camp. (Except she’s a best selling author, teacher and designer and I totally fangirl her, lol!). For me, the top is not a resounding success. For me, a lover of loose boxy styles, it’s a little snug around my hips/tum. (I suffer with bloating that can make me look pregnant; making snugger fit tops unwearable some days). So next time I may add in a little more fullness there. By contrast I’ll probably reduce the width of the neckline. I wear a bra ALL the time and hate my straps showing. So there’ll be a little adjustment there too. All part of trying out a new pattern for the first time. The neckline construction is actually a pretty neat trick and I observed some subtle shaping in the drafting of this pattern which I found interesting. Subtle curves to the shoulder line and hips…that kinda thing. Nice.

Beginners Guide to Dressmaking -tshirt-page-001


Beginners Guide to Dressmaking - Trousers

The TROUSERS though….were a win straight out of the gate!! I LOOOOOOVE these and am never taking them off! If you want a super quick, easy and comfy pair of pyjama bottoms to sew up for Christmas…stop looking….you’ve found em! The waistband is a folded over band of jersey into which the trousers are gathered to the back, with deep pleats at the front. I cannot overstate how comfy these are. All over but especially the tummy. I would have loved these when I was pregnant, but they’re also perfect for days like yesterday when my tummy was particularly tender.  They’d make the perfect handmade gift too. The only alterations I made were to the waistband and hems. The fabric is super stretchy. So I had to cut the waistband much smaller than the pattern to account for this. The drape and stretch of the fabric also equated to additional length at the hems! I’ve left them long in these pics so you can see that…and how the fabric drapes and pools like liquid….sigh…

Beginners Guide to Dressmaking -trousers-

So….what do you think? Poshest pyjamas ever?


Wendy & Josie have joined forces to offer you a fantastic double giveaway in time for Christmas!!! One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Wendy’s book. She’ll dedicate it in whatever way you like. So keep it for yourself or gift it to someone else for Christmas. PLUS Josie is offering 2.5m of the Venice Modal & Silk Jersey . Enough to make the trousers! This is a “follow to enter” set up so there are a multitude of ways to enter and each one gives you an additional entry into the draw so an additional chance of winning. You can enter by following:


So that’s 12 ways to enter! And a possible 12 entries into the draw. Remember to leave a comment here letting me know which of these you have done so I can tally up how many entries to put in for you! (If you already follow any of these, let me know too as that counts 😉 Giveaway is open until Sunday 13th December Midnight GMT.

Don’t forget…Fabric Godmother has 10% off for my readers when you use the code PORTIAXMAS at checkout until Christmas eve. I’m told there’s a limited amount of the slate left 😉


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