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!


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!



Unselfish sewing OR a dress for Jenny


So back in December, my friend Jenny asked me if I’d be able to help her out with something rather exciting. She makes music under the name Rooks (and go check it out, because it’s amazing) and wanted to do something a bit different for her album launch in March. Namely, lights. So of course I agreed, because, frankly, when offered the opportunity to make a dress with lights in it, who’d say no?

What is it?

A sleeveless shift dress. With lights. You heard me. Lights.

Is it blue?


What’s the fabric and where is it from?

Black crepe from the indoor market at the Bullring. The bodice was lined with a black and white bird print cotton bought in Walthamstow.

What’s the pattern?

An altered version of the Lilou dress from Love at First Stitch.

What was good about making this?

Figuring out how to sew lights into a dress, and then threading them all the way through was a challenge but a fun one. It also meant that the dress had an incredible structure to the skirt due to all the wire snaking around inside. However, the absolute best thing, sappy as it is, is that I got to see one of my best friends wearing a dress that not only looked great, but that gave her a lot of joy, as evidenced by her switching it on and off after the gig to show people how it lit up. That was pretty magical

What was bad about making this?

I learnt that black fabric is not particularly interesting to sew with. I also found it really stressful to make something for someone else; as much as I worry about the fit when I make things for myself, I know that ultimately I can bodge it around myself. Not the case here by a long shot!

Would you make it again?

It depends if I’m asked!