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!

Posted in sewing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

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.)


Continue reading

Posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized | 22 Comments

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!


Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 16 Comments

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!


Continue reading

Posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 239 Comments

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.

Continue reading

Posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized | Tagged | 36 Comments

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.)


Continue reading

Posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized | Tagged | 22 Comments

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.

Continue reading

Posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 36 Comments

Behind The Scenes At Did You Make That


Behind the scenes posts are always fun, aren’t they? So without, further ado…


Here’s the sewing machine that is permanently set out in a corner of my living room. Rachel from House of Pinheiro was recently snapped using it, when she came to stay. It’s a Bernina Activa 230 Patchwork Edition. It’s a great machine!

Continue reading

Posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized | Tagged | 30 Comments

Dogs In Space!



I’ve been waiting all my life to type a blog post title like that. LOOK at this fabric from Stoff & Stil!

Continue reading

Posted in sewing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 22 Comments

I Fell Off My Pink Cloud With A Thud


Is pink one of the most hotly contested colours in a female’s wardrobe? After my Instagram feed was flooded with images of women, including Margaret Atwood, wearing pink pussy hats I think the answer is YES!

It’s a colour we’re able to debate, challenge, subvert … and wear.


Continue reading

Posted in sewing, sewing and knitting, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 55 Comments