Harvesting Patterns


Lots of colour inspiration from the natural world right now. Which means it’s a good job someone’s gifted me some Sixties and Seventies patterns that would really suit autumnal. Planning, planning, who else is planning?

autumn vintage patterns

I’m intrigued by these pintucks…


And who can resist a spot of 1967 nautical chic?

style 2087

Do these inspire you? Would you modify any of the details for wearing today?

simplicity 3928

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Sewing A Roman Blind

roman blind

roman blind ii

roman blind iii

roman blind iv

This is my first completed project for the #ginghamalong. Huzzah!

Man, this roman blind nearly killed me. The sash window is a mammoth 130 cm wide and with a drop of 175 cm. That’s a heck of a lot of fabric to handle and I spent a lot of my time on my hands and knees on the parquet floor. Back breaking!

roman blind on floorroman blind on floor ii

The project involved many, many trips to the shops for various bits and pieces. I ran out of nylon cord, couldn’t track down a cord cleat, needed screw eyes, staples for my staple gun, a cut-to-measure rod and dowel… The list seemed to go on and on and I was for ever darting out of the door with my purse tucked into my armpit. So, here’s one of my biggest tips if you’re making a roman blind…

Don’t rely on chain DIY retailer centres. They won’t have what you need, or they’ll only sell them in packs of 100, you shan’t be able to find a helpful member of staff and if you do, they won’t know what you’re asking for. They certainly shan’t be able or willing to cut a single piece of wood to a specific length for you. You’ll find yourself listlessly wandering endless aisles, tears tracking down your cheeks, having lost all sense of time, place and self. ‘Who am I? I used to sew, I think. Used to be good. Can someone staple me to this trellis fencing, please? Just put me out of my misery. JUST. DO. IT!’

Instead, I silently thanked the gods that I lived near something as rare as hen’s teeth – a high street with independent traders. My local ironmongers saved me from suicide by trellis fencing! If you’re making a roman blind, find your local independent shop too.

This sounds like a lot of belly aching, and it was at the time. I hand sewed on 48 rings in order to ensure that the blind’s folds wouldn’t sag. (I wasn’t using rods in my folds.) I’ve since been informed of marvellous inventions such as this.

blind rings

blind rings ii

blind rings iii

I followed the Craftsy course on roman blinds (sadly, no longer available) and the teaching was excellent. So is the standard of roman blind. There’s not a single visible stitch from the right side of the blind. Even the dowel rod is hidden behind matching fabric.

dowel rod roman blind

This was a big old project and I’m glad it’s done. But yeah, I love my blinds. They add a great detail to my new office, which I spent four (five?) days redecorating from scratch. An important step, I felt, in the mental preparation for life’s next chapter. A room of one’s own, and all that.

I bet Virginia Woolf never had to climb a stepladder.

Office Instagram Image

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Ginghamalong Launch Giveaway Winners!

gingham bias tape

Okay, guys, the #ginghamalong has sure struck a chord. There’s a lot of people out there who love gingham and have been salivating over the Pinterest inspiration board. Are you one of them? Going to  join in the fun?

But first, our two launch winners…


Three metres of the Checkers gingham from The Village Haberdashery goes to Me And Two Makes Three, who has vowed to make a top for herself and an outfit for her 20-month-old daughter. My teeth already hurt from the sweetness!


Thimberlina wins two metres of gingham jersey from Girl Charlee UK. (To find out about more unique jerseys you can subscribe to their newsletter here.) I can’t wait to see what this fabric becomes!

To the winners, I’ll be in touch for postal addresses. To everyone else, good luck with your gingham goals. I’ve been working hard on one of mine and followers on Instagram will know how I feel about it so far…

Right. I’m off to organise the grand gingham prize to go with our reveals. Remember, 13 September is our deadline.

May the gingham force be strong in your lives and sewing!

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Ginghamalong + Giveaways

gingham and pins

gingham pyjamas

gingham neckerchief

gingham dress fabric

Ah, gingham. The stuff of school uniforms? NO! The stuff of dreams. Just check out my Pinterest Gingham Inspiration Board, if you don’t believe me. From that gorgeous Brigitte Bardot cinched in dress, to shorts, menswear, accessories … once you disappear down the gingham rabbit hole, it’s difficult to scramble back out.

Gingham is versatile as heck. It can represent rockabilly, mod, happy school days, 1950s domesticity, James Bond suave… Worn by Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Jackie Kennedy, and now you.

I’ve been planning a Ginghamalong for AGES. I’m hoping this sewing challenge will enable me to accomplish certain goals. Actually, I’m hoping I’ll accomplish more than one Gingham Goal. What about you? Is there something you can immediately see yourself making? (Gingham Ultimate Trousers with pom pom trim?)


  • Sew an item from gingham by the deadline of Tuesday 13 September – a month from now.
  • It can be anything at all, as long as it’s made from gingham.
  • Leave a comment and link to your item on the blog on Tuesday 13 September, for automatic entry to a prize draw.
  • If you don’t have a social media link to share with me, you can email details to didyoumakethat[at]fastmail[dot]fm

To inspire, here are a few fascinating gingham facts for you:

  • The checkered pattern was first produced in 18th-century Manchester mills.
  • Brigitte Bardot was married wearing a pink gingham dress.
  • There is no right or wrong side to gingham – sewing win!


It can be difficult to find decent gingham. There’s a lot of poly cotton out there. You deserve better than that, don’t you? Yes, Karen! So, here’s a little giveaway to launch the Ginghamalong.

Checkers by Cotton and Steel

Winner 1: Three metres of Checkers gingham, seen above, is generously on offer from The Village Haberdashery. Swoon! Which colour would you choose? I think I’m slightly in love with this mint.

Winner 2: Gingham doesn’t just have to be about cotton. I also have two metres of gingham jersey on offer to a second person from Girl Charlee UK. It comes in four different colourways – so difficult to decide!


  • Be confident that you can sew and share on social media a gingham item by 13 September.
  • Leave a comment below by Friday 19 August midnight GMT, explaining what you’d make with your gingham.
  • That’s it.

Got it? Good. Go Gingham!

ginghamalong button iii

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Adding Pom Pom Trim To Trousers

Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers With Pom Pom Trim Image

Now, this is the beauty of owning a sewing machine. I saw, I desired, I sewed. Simple!

A woman stood in front of me on a London escalator, wearing a pair of black trousers with pom poms at the trouser hem. I’ll be having a pair of those, I told myself. But I wasn’t going to bother trawling the shops, not when I had some polka dot stretch cotton in my stash, and a copy of the Sew Over It Ultimate Trousers pattern. All I needed was a metre of pom pom trim and I was off.

I’ve sewn this pattern so many times now, I could do it in my sleep. This also helps with fitting. I knew that a stretch cotton would need taking in significantly down the leg, and it did.

To avoid my trousers getting baggier and baggier at the waist with each wear, I added some stabilising ribbon at the waist seam. I recommend always having lengths of 5mm satin ribbon in your stash – it comes in useful for so many things. Plus, it’s pretty.

stabilising ribbon

Be aware that the trim shall add length to the finished make, and hem accordingly.

pom pom trim on trousers

pinning pom pom trim to trouser hem

Not much more to say about these! You could definitely sew yourself a pair of trousers this weekend, with added pom pom trim. Go for it!

pom pom trim and fabric black

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Silk Giveaway Winner

DIY Couture Deep V Tunic

The winner of the paramecia silk is Astrid Breel, who likes circles and the way that circle skirts spin round! Astrid, I’ll be in touch for a postal address.

Do you know what the most popular shape was? By some margin, the … TRIANGLE! Followed by the circle, and the rectangle coming in last.

Don’t know what to make of that, but there you have it. Thanks for joining in the fun, everyone. Stay strong – you’re nearly over the midweek hump. Then weekend sewing beckons!

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Knitting The Rio Olympics

union jack

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Olympics are in full swing! And what better way to celebrate than with a spot of knitting. Usain Bolt definitely agrees…

usain bolt knitted

Jessica’s so excited, she’s leaping hurdles.

knitted jessica ennis-hill

I don’t know who this basketball player is. Do you?

basketball player knitted

This is all the handiwork of one of my local neighbours, known for celebrating key events with knitted displays in the front garden.

If you want to knit your own olympics, there’s a handy book here.

Knitted Olympics Image

Are you watching the Rio Olympics? Who’s going for gold?

knitted rio olympics

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No Patterns Needed Blog Tour AND Silk Giveaway

Deep V Tunic No Patterns Needed

No Patterns Needed book

No Patterns Needed: DIY Couture from Simple Shapes is an exemplary piece of authorship and publishing. If I was a betting woman (and I am!) I’d lay money on this becoming an award-winning book. The level of care taken over instructions, design, originality and creative inspiration takes my breath away. Plus, Rosie Martin has given me a silk top that is perfect for the summer. All I needed to do was sew it.

Deep V Tunic Did You Make That

This is the Deep V Tunic, taking inspiration from the triangle. (The 15 patterns are grouped in three collections inspired by the circle, rectangle and triangle.) If you’ve seen Instagram photos of Rosie at her book launch, this is the top she was wearing. Doesn’t she look amazing? I admired the top all evening and then gave a whoop when I realised I could sew my own version.

I chose some silk fabric that I’ve previously used here and here. I was thrilled to see that in the book Rosie had used silk from the same sample sale. Serendipity! Here’s a detail from the placket, laid out on a top I already own. (You use an existing garment from your wardrobe to judge neckline distance and depth of armhole.)

silk placket

As with previous reviewers of this book, I was trepidatious to step away from paper patterns and wing it with chalk and a ruler. But once I began, I was hooked. Such a journey of adventure! Not too off piste, though. Rosie provides truly excellent and meticulous instructions – all beginning with your own measurements.

No Patterns Needed Body Measurements

For this top, you cut out a variety of rectangles and, um, sew them together. Not quite that simple, but not far off. The placket insertion is made super-easy and you’ll feel very placket proud. The sleeve caps are so brilliantly modern. Indeed, the whole piece feels effortlessly urban, whilst still suiting a stroll on the beach.

If you’re interested, the print on this silk is of paramecia

sleeve cap

Any tips for sewing this top?

  • The book doesn’t supply fabric amounts, so make sure you’re confident you have enough fabric before cutting out.
  • Directional prints could be an issue if you’re making this for the first time, as you might not necessarily understand what piece is for which part. (I didn’t!)
  • There’s a front centre seam. If you’re using a strong or repeating print the seam will cut across patterns.
  • If you want to incorporate the front seam split, be sure to finish your centre seam accordingly ie don’t overlock both raw seams together. (The front seam split is one of the last steps and easy to overlook.)
  • The sleeves are voluminous, which means people will be able to spy your sleeve hem finishes. Take care.
  • Use decent interfacing on the placket and sleeve caps. Now is not the time for cardboard cheap interfacing.
  • Unless you are very body confident or a friend of tit tape, you’ll want a vest to wear beneath the deep V. But it’s otherwise no trouble at all. None of those wardrobe malfunctions we all fear.

No Patterns Needed Collage

What else can I say? Oh yes – very important. How can we help support Rosie? Easy!

  • If you like this book, post a reader review on Amazon. Now! 
  • If an Amazon reader review has been helpful to you, click YES to ‘Was this review helpful?’

Your reward for reading this far is a FABRIC GIVEAWAY. Would you like 1.5 metres of my silk for yourself? Then leave a comment below saying what your favourite shape is – the circle, rectangle, or triangle. This giveaway is open internationally and shall close on Tuesday 9 August at midnight GMT.

Rosie Martin has just raised the bar for sewing books. I look forward to seeing what else her future holds, as this woman is exceptionally talented and I am proud and privileged to have become acquainted with her through the sewing community. The future of sewing isn’t a triangle, circle or rectangle. It’s Rosie-shaped.

Triangle Silk

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Sewing A Kimono Dressing Gown


sew over it kimono dressing gown

My recent stay in a hotel with communal bathrooms left me yearning for a summer kimono dressing gown that I needn’t be ashamed of. No more scuttling across the corridor, clutching a shower hat to my chest. Only billowing silk as a door was shut and steam clouded the windows.

Or something like that!

sew over it kimono dressing gown on bed

For a couple of years, I’ve had a summer dressing gown that I loathe. Shop bought and constructed from the most heinous polyester. It makes me sweat the moment I shrug it over my shoulders.

There had to be a better way, but I was keen not to spend money unnecessarily. It didn’t take me long to plunder my stash and my bookshelves to find the perfect combination. The Sew Over It Vintage book (page 58) has instructions for a kimono dressing gown and my stash held some lemon print fabric. Time to sew!

lemon fabric

This book doesn’t supply pattern pieces; it’s all about sewing from body measurements, which were easy enough to take. I set to with lots of sewable swedish tracing paper to trace the pattern pieces. Then I cut out my fabric pieces and started sewing.Kimono Image iiI wasn’t so naive as to expect a kimono in slippery fabric to stay closed with no more help than a tie belt, so I added an internal tie stitched to one internal side seam and the front edge of the kimono that would lie under the overlapped front pieces.

kimono tie Image

kimono tie

If you’re sewing this kimono, my tips would be:

Use fabric with drape, and not necessarily a natural fabric. Natural fibres will crease like the devil itself, demand hand washing, and a hot iron with every single launder. Seriously. You have time for all that? Consider high quality polyester or viscose. Emphasis, high quality.

Know the labels for your body. What does nape actually mean? If you don’t know, you’ll take the wrong measurements. I may sound patronising, but if you’d like to peer into my sewing room’s waste basket, you’ll see a whole set of kimono pieces resting in there, because I mistook the top of my shoulder for my nape. (Your nape is the base of your neck.)

Have lots of fabric and be ready to guesstimate. There aren’t any fabric requirements in this book (though page 19 helps you judge fabric allowance). For this make, I’d allow a good three metres of fabric, especially if your fabric has a narrow width.

Finish your seams. Kimono sleeves billow and people will see your innards.

Try your kimono on before adding loops for your belt. You’ll want to be confident of where the kimono sits on your natural waist. Otherwise, your make will twist up your body.

My final tip? HAVE FUN! The kimono doesn’t demand close fitting, and you can work with some amazingly striking fabrics.

Then you’ll be able to drift across a hotel corridor, waiting for the man of your dreams to scoop you up in his arms and plant a kiss on your lips.

Either that, or you have something great for lounging on the sofa in front of the telly!

kimono lounging

kimono full length

For other kimono sewing adventures, visit here.

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The Big Vintage Sewalong – B5880

B5880 dressThis is my contribution to The Big Vintage Sewalong – the Butterick 5880. I’m sure by now you’ve heard of this initiative that has been running since March and ends in September. That’s a lot of sewing in support of The Eve Appeal.

I always forget. Forget how long the last stages take. Those steps that I think will be the work of a couple of hours eat up a day. Hand sewing the lining? A matter of moments! Yeah, right. Though this may be my most favourite lining fabric ever, bought from Ditto Fabrics.

polka dot lining fabric

polka dot lining with chalk

I’m not gonna lie; this is no easy make. I made at least two toiles of the bodice and a full calico toile of the dress, before even starting to cut out the fashion fabric. The cap sleeve structure is gorgeous to wear but blousy and you’ll want to make sure it’s not too blousy.

It’s an odd one. Too fitted and you’ll spoil the breezy effect of the dress. Not fitted enough and it will bag. But that notched neckline is to die for and the dress is incredibly comfortable to wear, fabric whispering over your hips. Whispering, Pour me a martini, darling. 

notched neckline B5880

What else? The skirt was shortened by a good three inches and pegged by two inches at each side, which means four whole inches were removed to give the hem of the skirt more shape. (A pegged skirt tapers towards the bottom.)

Shortening the skirt section is no easy task because you need to shorten the flounce at the same time. My solution? I just lopped three inches off the bottom of the flounce! But be aware that final adjustments may still be necessary, so baste and be ready to use the seam ripper.

And yes, that flounce. Unbelievably, this pattern comes with no instructions for stay stitching. But with the weight of that overlay, you’re going to need stay stitching like never before. It’s my opinion that you also need a waist stay. My dress doesn’t have one (deadlines…) but I’ll be adding one.

vintage buckle coral

With said deadline hoving and my brow resting atop my sewing machine, my last task was to make a self fabric belt twinned with a vintage buckle I was gifted many years ago. Darling long ago reader, did you send this to me? Please put your hand in the air, if so!

For such a relatively simple silhouette, the guts of this dress involved a lot. The bodice is fully underlined with silk organza, the waist seam was strengthened with the slevedge of silk organza and fusible interfacing was used to strengthen the seams where my invisible zip went. Too often, as I stood over my ironing board I would mutter, Patience, patience

guts of B5880

sewing underlining

So! Not a simple make, by any stretch of the imagination. I flex my muscles like this about once a year. It’s a good exercise; keeps the brain nimble. Indeed, my intrigue around the new-to-me lining construction kept me powering on through to the end. Learning, learning, always learning. When I stop wanting to do that, you can tip me into my grave and dance on it!

Oh, and if you seek the perfect accompaniment to hours of hand stitching, I passionately recommend the audio book of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. To. Die. For. Very. Clipped. Tones. And. Heartbreak.

Rebecca was published in 1938. This pattern was published in 1951. I don’t really know what those numbers mean in 2016, other than that over many, many years women have achieved fantastic things and I dearly hope shall continue to do so. Whether it’s with a pen, a needle, or a speech, I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings. One thing I do know. The future’s looking pretty female right now.

With thanks to The Big Vintage Sewalong for inviting me to take part.

B5880 flounce

b5880 pinned

B5880 rear

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