Get on your bikes and ride!

Several years ago I bought a bike. I’d not ridden a bike in at least a decade, so I made a couple of crucial decisions when making my purchase, chief of which was that the bike had to be something that aesthetically I liked the look of so that, even if I didn’t ride it very often, I’d feel happy when I did ride it.

The result of this was that I bought a bike that is highly unpractical for someone who lives on the top of the hill, but a bike which, nonetheless I love. I try to cycle to and from the station whenever I’ve got a meeting (although not if it’s raining after a rather unfortunate experience), and I have a rule that whatever I’m wearing to the meeting is what I’ll be cycling in.

The upshot of this is that I regularly cycle in pretty much all of the things that have appeared on this blog, and I’ve got a bit of a reputation amongst my friends and family for having a bordering-on-ludicrous bike.

This dress is the next logical step.
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A quest and a question

Got my questing face on…


I’ve spoken before about my love of shirt dresses and the quest for the ultimate shirt dress pattern of joy.

The Sew Over It shirt dress had been on my radar for a while ever since the first SewBrum I went to where Gabby was wearing a fabulous contrast shirt dress.

I actually bought the pattern in the middle of last year but it has languished in my stash pile for a while whilst I searched for just the right fabric to do it justice. It took surprisingly longer than expected, but I think (I hope?) you’ll agree with me that the wait was worth it!

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Chambray shirt dress


Remember the quest to find the shirt dress of shirt dresses? Well it continues with a new contender. This dress has already had a lot of wear since it was finished at the end of April, and has become a firm wardrobe favourite for being both comfy and casual and fancy and formal, meaning it’s great for work, lazy Sundays and impromptu nights out. Winner indeed.

What is it?

A shirt dress with a pleated skirt

Is it blue?


What’s the fabric and where is it from?

The fabric is chambray and it came from a shop on the Goldhawk road

image1 (1)

What’s the pattern?

The infamous McCalls 6696 in view B

What was good about making this?

For the most part the instructions were really clear and straightforward; possibly more so than I expected from one of the big 4. Additionally, by using the best poppers ever rather than buttons, I managed to avoid hours of buttonhole misery and got it from “bit of fabric” to “ready to wear” in about fifteen minutes (not a joke, I was determined I wanted to wear it out to dinner that evening).

What was bad about making this?

There are a lot of pieces and a lot of steps, so there were times when I got a bid bored of this. I also found that the back has a bit more fabric than I’d like. Also, it needs 140cm fabric to fit the skirt pieces which means that it took a while for me to find a fabric that I both liked and wanted to make this dress in.

Would you make it again?

I think so, although I’d sort out the back bodice. It’s had a lot of compliments already and is so easy to throw on it would be silly not to have a second (or third, or fourth…). I think I’ll probably go for something patterned next time though, just because


Black floral Nicola shirt dress

IMG_4542 I have a search. A search for the perfect shirt dress. As an item of clothing I blooming love them but as a thing to make I’d felt pretty daunted by it as a possibility.

I’m going to say right now that this dress is not the perfect shirt dress. In fact, this dress very nearly got consigned to the WIP pile for all eternity and even once complete it very nearly caused a meltdown and immediate binning.

But more of that when we get there, for now….

What is it?

A black floral shirt dress with V-shape neckline and full length sleeves

Is it blue?

No (note to self: this is becoming a bit of a trend at the moment. Must buy more blue fabric)

What’s the fabric?

A super soft cotton (polyester? rayon? I have no idea) that’s black with white and red flowers (best description I can think of for them)

What’s the pattern?

The Nicola Dress from Sewaholic

Where’s the fabric from?

I got it at the Birmingham Rag Market during SewBrum for the princely price of £1 per metre!

1-IMG_4078What was good about making this?

I got to try out a new skill with this dress; making sleeve plackets! I realised I hadn’t quite read the instructions correctly about half way through, but I was pretty please when I did it, as evidenced by my immediate wearing of said sleeve…

IMG_4536What was bad about making this?

Where to start? With the collar piece that I cut to the wrong size because the schematic diagram for the layout wasn’t particularly clear? The confusion around finishing the facing? It doesn’t help that I got so far with making it and then ran out of time before Christmas, so left it unhemmed and unbuttonholed (?) for about a month. By which time I was fed up of it and bored, a feeling repeated when I hand sewed on the buttons (whodathunk a shirt dress would have lots of buttons….).

The absolute moment of (near) tears though was when, having finished it, I tried it on with the belt that comes with the dress. It looked hideous. A moment of learning the hard way that I do not suit a loose bodice or fussy waistlines with extra fabric. I looked – and felt – like a giant sack of potatoes.


For then I remembered my old friend the cinch belt and lo, with a bit of a nip in and reallocation of fabric folds, the dress was completely redeemed. And now I love it. So much so that I’ve worn it a couple of times already in the fortnight since making.

Would you make it again?

Nope. This dress is not the dream shirt dress that I was hoping for and, whilst I’m pleased with the finished product, I think that I wouldn’t make it again. I have however found out about the fabled McCalls 6696 shirt dress that seems to be getting a lot of positive press in the blogsphere, so have bought a copy and plan on making that after my current (nearly finished) project.

The great shirt dress search continues…