The case for the prosecution

The case

Over the last few months I’ve been noticing something strange in amongst my usual sewing projects. Namely that there’s been things that haven’t been made by me for me. It seems that – unwittingly – I may have become an unselfish sewer.

Clue 1 – Christmas waistcoats

It started off casually enough when, building on our Christmas card, I made matching waistcoats for the boy’s brothers for Christmas. Yes, it’s a gift but well, they’re part of a joke, nothing more. Plus I’d already made a white one for the boy, so making two more wasn’t much of a hassle.

Clue 2 – A very loud shirt

© Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (

My brother is a lover of loud vintage shirts and I figured what could be better than a loud vintage shirt chosen by your sister but a loud vintage-esque shirt made by your sister? This train of thought led to my making a Negroni shirt for him for Christmas using the most insanely loud Liberty fabric I’ve ever seen from the rag market (and man do I love that fabric).

It was a dream to make up and even more of a dream when, on Christmas day, not only did he love it as soon as he opened it but it was a perfect fit (I’d been a bit worried about making something without any measurements).

© Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now (

As for the particularly professional photos with this one, my brother’s a DJ and he also runs amazing events in Bristol, so the fact he wore the shirt to one of their events is pretty much the highest honour I could ask for!

Clue 3 – Secret Valentine’s Exchange

In mid-January sign ups went live for this year’s Secret Valentine Exchange. I’d not taken part before, but I know a lot of people who really love it as a swap, so thought I’d get on board. Besides, it’s not really selfish sewing if you’re going to get something in return, right?

My gift went to Nina, and based on her love of orange and blue and her frankly awesome knitting skills I made her a knitting needle roll using this tutorial from Guthrie & Ghani. The chambray was in my stash from my shirt dress, whilst the orange came from a single fat quarter. I made the piping out of some bias binding I had. I also sent some yarn and knitting needles, because you can’t have an empty needle holder or needles with nothing to go on them!

In return I received a wonderful gift from Amy, you can find out more on my Instagram feed.

Clue 4 – sewing for a baby

The boy’s sister-in-law has just had a baby, making me an auntie by proxy, so of course I sewed something up for the little baby, I mean, he’s so cute (baby not boy) that it would have been cruel not to. Plus, I already had the bib pattern from the sewing I’ve been doing as a part of The Big Sew (which, yes, is also unselfish, but shh, or rather, click through and find out how you can help!) so it wasn’t even like it was that big of a deal. Honest.Verdict

It seems it’s confirmed. I am a handmade gift giver, no two ways about it. Still, given that my next few projects are all for me, I don’t think the title will stick too hard!


The most ridiculous time of the year

Before we start, yes, it is now February. And yes, this is a blog post about Christmas. Your point…?


Ah Christmas. A time for all sorts of ridiculous things, including, for reasons I’m still not entirely sure of, a decision to make matching Christmas outfits for me and the boy, along with a bow for Pickle, and then pose for a “family photo” which got used on all of our Christmas cards….

To avoid us turning into a Buzzfeed listicle about people who love Christmas a bit too much, I’m not going to post either the actual photo or any of the out-takes. If you’re really good, maybe, just maybe, Father Christmas will bring them to you next year / I’ll show the picture to you at some point in the future in a real world setting.

It went into the real world too!
(This is just before I went out for my work’s Christmas do.)

What is it?

For me; a holly print dress with a sweetheart neckline and three-quarters circle skirt. The boy had a waistcoat and bow tie of the same material, whilst Pickle had a bow that was attached to her collar.

Is it blue?


What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

I bought several metres of holly print polycotton from Minerva Crafts. I lined my dress with some cream cotton I already had, and the waistcoat with white fabric from the rag market.

Imagine this is being worn by a man with a beard.
Also, note the holly shaped buttons #twee

What’s the pattern?

My dress is a modified Mortmain dress by Gather patterns; the sweetheart is the same one used on the second space dress whilst I drafted the three-quarters circle skirt specifically for this dress. The waistcoat is Simplicity 8023 view A, and I copied the bow tie from a pre-existing bow tie that the boy has. Pickle’s bow was the easiest of all; a square of fabric tied together and attached to a new collar, so no pattern needed!

What was good about making this?

The best thing was probably the fact that it made me laugh every time I thought about what we were doing, and then laugh again every time I have seen the picture since. Or maybe the actual best thing was when the cards started landing and people were telling us how much they had enjoyed the cards. That was pretty nice too.

(and yes, that’s a horrendously corny answer, but if you can’t be corny at when writing about Christmas, when can you be corny?)

Why yes, there is a cat treat out of shot to get her to look up long
enough to show off her fancy bow tie. How did you guess?

What was bad about making this?

There was a fair bit of strategy involved in getting Pickle involved in the photo, which probably counts as part of the making. In the end, we got the collar on her the day before so that she wouldn’t then run away as soon as I tried to pick her up for the photo (she hates having her collar changed).

Would you make it again?

This was a fairly niche make… And whilst I have already had friends ask what our plan for next Christmas is, I’m a bit worried about making a rod for my own back. So for now, let’s say no, but maybe ask me again in December / next February!


Good things happen to those who….*

05-img_0720For Christmas this year, amongst the things I bought for the boy was a copy of the Walden shirt pattern Negroni, the thinking being that it could either be something that we made together (if he had any interest in learning to sew) or something that I could make for him as a delayed gratification gift.

Possibly unsurprisingly, he had absolutely no interest in learning to sew, so I made up my mind that I would make him a shirt. We found some fabric he liked, I traced off the pattern and everything was ready.

And then some time passed. And a bit more time. And suddenly it was September, nine months after Christmas, eight months since the fabric arrived, and as part of this year’s #sewphotohop I discovered that the fabric was still sat in my stash box, waiting to be used.

The time for waiting was over.


Perfecting blue steel….

What is it?

A long sleeved men’s shirt with flat felled seams and a left hand pocket.

Is it blue?

Yes (because he’s a boy after my own heart!)

What’s the fabric and where’s it from?

The fabric is a lovely shirting cotton with tiny purple pansies and blue steering wheels (best description I can think of!) bought from Fabworks Mill.

04-img_0718Super shirt for a super man…

What’s the pattern?

Negroni by Walden, the menswear arm of Colette in version 1 (but with only one pocket).

What was good about making this?

Seeing him wear it. That’s basically the best thing. Once the sappiness is out of the way though, there were a couple of things I enjoyed with this:

  • Pattern matching was an absolute dream, mainly due to the tiny repeat. I’m really pleased with the way that the final shirt has matched up.
  • Although a bit of a nightmare, the self finishing yoke and the placket pieces were really nice visually.
  • I got to use my own labels! These were a birthday present from the boy, so it seemed fitting that the first thing I used them on was something for him.
  • Learning how to do flat felled seams; they’ve got a really neat look to them.
  • The buttonholes came out neat as, well, a button, which is always an added bonus.


Someone’s been taking hints from my posing…

What was bad about making this?

Apart from the guilt about how long it took to get moving with this, I had a bit of a mare doing the flat felled seams on the armhole and the cuffs did not want to behave, although it was nothing that a bit of rigorous pressing and topstitching couldn’t hide.

Would you make it again?

I would. Maybe not often, but I am pleased with it, and I also see it being quite a useful last minute (ok, last several days) gift in the future!