What To Sew For Afternoon Tea

afternoon tea collage

It’s afternoon tea week! I consider myself a bit of an expert as my sister and I love to track down a good afternoon tea. It’s the perfect occasion for dragging out your glad rags.

vintage handbag


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The Village Haberdashery & Hampstead Heath

Did You Make That At The Village Haberdashery

Yesterday was Ella’s 5th birthday – so what better way to celebrate than with a trip to see Annie at The Village Haberdashery, with Ella wearing her High Five Kerchief? Sounded like a good idea to me!

Make Day Amazing

This was my first visit to the new, larger store in West Hampstead. It’s amazing – and beautiful. Here is their oh-so-serene teaching and workshop space…

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Practising bound buttonholes

Bound buttonhole red cotton

I’m working on a project that requires four bound buttonholes.

Bound buttonholes seem scary because you slice your scissors through a pattern piece. If you mess up, you mess up – and you’d better have spare fabric to hand.

So, how do you make sure that doesn’t happen. Practice!

I always practise my bound buttonholes before starting on the project itself. Even if you count yourself familiar with this technique, it’s important because you…

  • Flex your memory muscle
  • Familiarise yourself with fabric quirks
  • Prep for those details you might overlook ie ensuring that the fabric grain on your welts matches the fabric grain of your pattern piece
  • Build your confidence. Hey, I can totally do this!

If you want a good step-by-step guide to bound buttonholes, you can buy my ebook here. It’s a bargain, and covers steps such as these…

thread tracing bound buttonholes

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Three Deep Questions

scissors or rotary blade

Question One Is there a case for launching straight into a make, without toiling first? I hope so – because I’ve just done precisely that.

I do this when:

  • The general fit is forgiving
  • It’s an outerwear make that doesn’t require uber precision
  • There’s enough fabric to allow you to cut generous seam allowances – fit can be let out. Remember, you don’t have to follow the 15mm rule
  • I’ve studied the construction lines and judged opportunities to tweak fit as I work

Question Two How do you cut out fabric when there are lots of fiddly pieces?

I usually swear by my Olfa Rotary Cutter but my Merchant and Mills shears have proved themselves to be a reliable, workhorse alternative – especially when there are odd little quirks to a pattern piece that a blade needs to negotiate.

damp fabric

Question Three Do you ever impatiently cut out pattern pieces when your fabric is still damp from its pre wash?

I have! Here are the cut pieces, out in the garden to complete their drying session in the sun. Yes, there may indeed be some shrinkage. I don’t think I particularly care.

So, what about you? Do you toile, do you snip, do you damp cut? Do tell!

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Summer Holidays – How To Still Make

Knitting and spade and bucket

The schools have broken up and everyone is off on their holibobs! But how do you squeeze making into the back of the car, along with everything else?

This is why I love knitting. It’s so transportable. This was me last year, on the Isle of Wight. I’m wearing a Miette cardigan whilst knitting a Miette cardigan. (Which means that cardigan has officially been waiting a year now to have the buttons sewn on.)

knitting on the isle of wight

If you do a bit of planning, you can also take some hand sewing on holiday with you.

Did You Make That Hand Sewing

I’m wearing my Tilly and the Buttons Bettine Dress.

If you’re attending one of the myriad summer festivals, you’ll likely find stalls set up to help you make – all you need to do is join in the fun.

And I’m most impressed by a sewing pal who recently took a John Lewis mini sewing machine to Frankfurt, Germany with her to complete a baby quilt for her friend. Now, that’s dedication.

Baby quilt

Unbelievably, this entire quilt was sewn in a hotel room in Frankfurt.

Please do remember that you are allowed to take knitting and crochet needles onto planes. Yes, really!

Tell me. How do you incorporate making into your holidays away from home?

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Ogden Cami Sewing Tips

ogden cami neckline

Fabric Choice Affects Sizing

Take note of how tight the weave of your fabric is. A light, fluid viscose with a bit of spandex (my first version) is going to fit differently to a tightly woven silk (my second version). This is not an accurate science, but a bit of forethought and adjustment can save a make.

Consider Hand Stitching Your Hem – And Keep The Hand Stitches Loose

Loose stitching allows the hem to ‘move’ with the fluid drape of the top. One of my biggest errors as a newbie Sewist was to pull my hand stitching Nice. And. Tight. All you do is create tension, in yourself and in your hems, which distort. Relax!

hand stitched hem

Loose Hand Stitching

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What Should I Sew This Weekend?

Ogden Cami True Bias Did You Make That

This! The Ogden Cami from True Bias. I tell ya, I’m in love and it layers up like a dream.

Ogden Cami Did You Make That

Twinned with my Miriam cardigan from Quince & Co

What do I like about this pattern?

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GBSB Live – The Winners!

Patrick and Esme, Did You Make That

Below are the names of my ten winners. They each receive a free pair of tickets to The Great British Sewing Bee Live.

Thanks to everyone for taking part in this giveaway! I hope I’ll see many of you at Excel in September.

  • Vena Jacobs
  • Adele Ebdon
  • Caroline Joynson
  • Gemma Luker
  • Ann Warners
  • Claire Nightingale
  • Mumokio
  • Ali Thompson
  • Susan Bowdler
  • Leanna Levine
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The Great British Sewing Bee Live – Giveaway


Patrick Great British Sewing Bee

First things first, you lucky people. Have you heard that 2017 is the year of the first live event associated with The Great British Sewing Bee?

Highlights shall include:

  • Over 100 workshops
  • Live refashion challenges set to members of the public
  • Ex-contestants – living, breathing, moving and sewing!
  • Drop in clinics for your sewing emergencies
  • Over 200 exhibitors aka people willing to take your money in exchange for goodies

I have ten pairs of free tickets to The Great British Sewing Bee Live. To throw your hat into the ring, simply comment on this blog post. In your comment, I want to hear what burning question you’d ask Patrick and Esme, given the chance.

To comment, you should be confident of being able to visit this UK-based live event, 21-24 September in London.

Ten lucky winners shall be picked at random. The closing date for this giveaway is midnight GMT Wednesday 19 July.

I also have a discount code of DYM to give readers £1.50 off advance purchases of adult tickets bought here. Go on, go on, go on! I’ll be attending, but don’t let that put you off.

Esme Great British Sewing Bee

So. What is the lure of a live event, for a franchise that’s already had four successful TV series? To find out, I recently attended an intimate Q&A with no other than Patrick and Esme from TGBSB.

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She Walks In Beauty Like The Night Of Cloudless Climes

closet case patterns charlie caftan liberty tana lawn

I expect at some point I shall get bored. Of making Charlie Caftans. Or maybe not. Two more future makes already light up my imagination. The question is: at what point do you reach maximum caftan on a sewing blog? Hey, I’m willing to take one for the team and see where breaking point lies. When readers scream, ‘For the love of all that is sacred, make something else, Karen!’

But not quite yet.

charlie caftan liberty tana lawn

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