M6885 Shirt Dress – More Than The Sum Of Its Parts

M6885 pattern

Want to sew a shirt dress with interesting details, but without sleeve plackets or a gazillion buttons? Welcome to the M6885 shirt dress!

This is a dream to wear. I can say that with confidence because I’ve already worn it for a meeting. The true test of a successful make is whether or not you sit twitching, fidgeting and tugging when you should be erudite, focussed and professional. I’m not saying I’m any of the latter, but at least I wasn’t twitching.

M6885 close up

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Bend Like The Green Reed

pinned sleeve

“The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” Confucius

The M6885 is a GREAT pattern. But for now, you’re going to have to take my word for it.

Life has seriously got in the way of this make, and progress has been achingly slow. It’s been worth it, though. If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll have seen most steps along the way. The lawn cotton is from The Sewcial Studio. It’s been a dream to sew with, and I don’t say that lightly. (Though I recommend a microtex needle, and it’s best not to leave pins in the fabric overnight.)

basted hem

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In Vino Veritas – In Wine, Truth

bronte parsonage signpost

There’s been a distinct lack of sewing at Did You Make That Towers, largely because there’s been a distinct lack of home time at Did You Make That Towers! I’m 200 miles from home in Haworth, West Yorkshire.

Haworth was the home of the Brontes. As a student, I spent a summer working at the Bronte Parsonage, and two of my university friends would come and visit me. Little did we know that this cobbled village would become our lifelong mutual touchstone; the place we returned to as our lives scrolled through marriages, jobs, pets, children, homes, journeys and adventures.

So, what better way to celebrate our latest reunion than with a bottle of something cold, crisp and fizzy.

In Vino Veritas wine

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Top 5 Tips: Sewing, Reading, Motivation

top 5 essentials for sewing

My Top Five Sewing Essential Stockpilers 

  • Overlocker thread in a variety of colours. Stock up when you see it.
  • Microtex needles, fine enough for your more delicate projects.
  • Pins regularly need replacing. As Ooobop‘s mother would tell you, throw out a blunt pin immediately! (I always think of Janene’s mum when I toss a pin. I’ve never actually met the woman.)
  • Quality interfacing. I really need to stock up on mine from here.
  • Chocolate. Enough said.

My Top Five Weekend Reads

Top 5 weekend reads

I’m trying to even out the balance between blog reading and physical books. Here’s what is in my reading pile:

  • I’m brushing up on my Shakespeare, because I have tickets booked to see Twelfth Night at The National starring Tamsin Greig.
  • I spotted this sage green old sewing book last summer and couldn’t resist buying it. The tone can be a bit dour, but that’s half the fun of reading it:

Some know instinctively what suits them, while others never trouble, but rashly choose some colour or style that attracts the eye, the result usually being disastrous.


Ahem, moving on…

  • Sewing magazines – my backlog is stacking up.

sewing magazines

My Top Five Motivational Tools


  • I learnt about the Chalkboard Method from Braid Creative and I LOVE it. My chalkboard is from Flying Tiger but I’m secretly hankering after these. Every Monday I write down one goal for the week, prop up my chalkboard somewhere I can see it every time I walk into the office … and you can bet your bottom dollar that task gets done. Incredibly simple, incredibly effective.
  • Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique? 25 minutes dedicated work, rewarded by 5 minutes play. If I need to plough through a project with no distractions, this is what I use to stop myself wasting yet another hour on Twitter. I don’t bother downloading an app, just use this uber simple online Pomodoro.


  • Stationery. Nothing more motivating than new stationery.
  • Deadlines. What’s that famous Douglas Adams quote? I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. Nah. I love a good deadline and I love meeting it.
  • My final piece of motivation? A sewing project that needs completing. On which note, I’m off to sew!

Happy weekends, everyone. Hope you found some inspiration there.


FINAL TOP TIP Girl Charlee UK is having a flash sale over the weekend. Go, check it out!

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15mm – the rule of thumb


15mm. I never knew this tiny measurement would become such a key part of my life. But it’s the standard seam allowance in most sewing patterns and now I can eyeball 15mm with impressive accuracy.

It’s not always clever or wise to eyeball, so sometimes I use measuring tools. Get me! If I don’t have a measuring tool, I use my thumb. From thumb tip to the base of my nail is about 15mm. (That’s how long my thumb is. You should measure first if you want to sew by your own rule of thumb.)


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Creativity And Motivation

First of all, the winner of my Liberty tana lawn giveaway is … Foodie Nelly! I’ll be in touch for a postal address, my friend. Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last blog post. You’ve given me a lot of brilliant feedback regarding future blog posts!

An overwhelming majority of readers want more of this:


Ella and I have been training!


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7 Years Of Blogging & Giveaway


Wow, how did that happen? Seven years of sharing my sewing, my life, my dog. It’s my bloggiversary today. I’ve made lots of lifetime friends, I’ve made a lot of clothes (I just chucked some out this morning!) and I’ve written lots and lots of words. I won’t count them up.

I’ve grown seven years older, but I’d hazard a guess that I’m not hugely wiser.

To celebrate my ignorance, a giveaway!


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Butterick 5455


Looking for the perfect dress to layer with cardies, that can make either a summer or winter outfit? Welcome to the Butterick 5455! It’s a much lauded pattern, sadly out of print. Source it, if you can.

Look at the gorgeous bodice detail with those tiny and flattering pleats. Linen works well, and you can see why.



Do you know what’s really good about a bodice that’s fitted with pleats? If the final make still isn’t sitting quite snug enough to the neckline, you can just add an extra couple of pleats! That’s what I did.

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How To Sew A Really Good Pleat


I have one big issue with pleat instructions in sewing patterns. They instruct you to construct pleats from the right side of the fabric, but we usually mark crease lines on the wrong side of fabric.

That’s a recipe for inaccuracy.

But there is an alternative and I’m here to share it!

Mark crease lines in chalk on the wrong side of the fabric. Then thread trace the lines, ideally in a silk thread. (Silk thread is super slippery, which makes it much easier to remove the basting.)


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Interview with Mark Creasey, Girl Charlee UK


One of my favourite makes from Girl Charlee UK

When I decided to leave a steady job, I discovered allies and compatriots in the most unlikely of places.

Whilst packing up my office desk and handing in my security pass, I was also opening up Did You Make That to blog buttons, something I’d never done before.

One of the first people to engage with me was Mark Creasey of Girl Charlee UK. He’d re-envisioned his own career to become part of the sewing world and had some great words of wisdom for me:

It’s better to fail at something you love, than succeed at something you hate.

I wanted to interview Mark on his own new life and what he made of the sewing community. Thankfully, he agreed to indulge me!


Gotta love a man in a Santa onesie.

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