The Eighties Called. They Want Their Clothes Back.

liberty sewing book

I bought this book for £1.50 from a shop on the Isle of Wight. What’s not to love? Liberty! Sewing patterns included! The Eighties! Not just a piece of history. There’s some pretty detailed information in this book, plus basic pattern blocks can always be adapted. I’m hopeful there’s something here I could sew.

Always check the line drawings…

sewing pattern line drawing

But, oh these Eighties moments, frozen between the pages. Flipping through this book, I am swept back to an era when Princess Di pie crust collars were de rigeur, flounces ruled and Laura Ashley was a lifestyle goal.

Would you join me on a stroll down memory lane?

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments

The Launch Party Of Dreams!

Having fun at the launch party! copy

Last Thursday we celebrated publication of The Little Book of Sewing with a party at The Village Haberdashery – and what a party it was!

I’d ordered photo-printed cupcakes carrying miniature images of the book cover but – doh! – ordered them for the wrong day. Still, that didn’t spoil our fun.

Kate of The Foldline arrived early to film a pre-party book interview with me – you can see it here.

karen with the foldline

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Should I Wear This Dress To The Book Launch?

V8825 how to sew vogue dress

Do you ever feel as though you were born to live in a certain decade of your life?

I found my youth hard. I was too ‘fat’, I loved make-up despite the fact that my 20s were lived through the Britpop era when women were expected to be lads. My writing was gauche and immature.

But I loved to write. I vividly remember the evenings I would sit on my bedroom floor, with an electronic typewriter, hammering out letters to friends who rarely responded. It didn’t matter. I took huge comfort from the fact that Carol Shields only began writing novels at the age of 50. 50! Could anyone imagine being that old and still able to write?

And so it is no small irony that The Little Book of Sewing is published in my 49th year and I find that my sewing empowers the woman I am today. If only we knew back then what we know now.

Life will be fine, little acorn. More than fine. You’ll wear some fancy dresses, too.

how to sew a crepe jersey dress

Want to draw attention away from your white legs? Wear even whiter tights!

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 36 Comments

When Blog Readers Help You Write A Book

publication day

It’s publication week for The Little Book of Sewing! Have you been joining in the Instagram fun #thelittlebookofsewing? I’ve seen so many great and inspiring stories, including how this book inspired Kathy of Sew Dainty to launch her own jewellery business. Check out those acrylic scissors – swoon!

sew dainty

Sew Dainty Jewellery

Of course, it takes more than one person to write a book. From my editor, Ellen, to Sam who designed the cover, to the production person who picked out those gorgeous yellow endpapers to … you, dear readers!

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Designing The Cover For The Little Book Of Sewing

stitched up sam

When it came to cover inspiration for The Little Book of Sewing, my editor asked me to send over a few visuals that I liked. Amongst them was a link to Stitched Up Sam’s Instagram feed. I really like the way she combines the traditional technique of free motion embroidery with some edgy images. She chooses to work with lovely fabrics and her embroidery is always so neat!

david bowie embroidery

Having shared my mood board with the publisher, I continued to admire Sam’s work from afar as the book was brought together and was going to print. By this stage, I’d seen the cover, of course, but had no idea who had embroidered it – until Sam got in touch to thank me. SHE HAD DESIGNED THE COVER!

I was thrilled that a fellow creative had been part of the journey and couldn’t resist asking Sam about the process. Read on to find out how you embroider a book cover!

The Little Book Of Sewing newsletter

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Tracking Down Vintage Vogue Patterns

how to sew a vintage vogue pattern

riccardo gbsb

vintage vogue pattern gbsb

Did any of you see the recent stunning use of a vintage Vogue pattern by Riccardo on The Great British Sewing Bee? I loved this dress made from a set of charity shop curtains!

The pattern is the Vogue Paris Original 1483, faithfully tracked down for us by Rachel and Kate at The Foldline.

riccardo vogue pattern gbsb

But as I began scouring the Internet looking for an undoubtedly expensive copy, it occurred to me that this pattern reminded me of a vintage Vogue pattern I’d already sewn with – the Vogue 5098. This also reminded me that, actually, vintage Vogue patterns are not that tricky to source.

Vintage Vogue Collage

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

How Many Outfits Can You Make With One Piece Of Fabric?

Five years ago, I bought nine metres of silk in a sample sale. I’ve finally used it all up! Two metres were given away. The rest has been used on…

A silk Myosotis dress

how to sew a silk dress

My first silk Sew Over It pussy bow blouse

Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse

This kimono cardigan using a FREE tutorial

Kimono Cardigan ii

How much sewing have you eeked out of a single fabric purchase?

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The Caress Of Silk

how to sew a silk dress

Can anyone recommend a blogger-friendly point and shoot camera? I’ve been using the same one almost since I started blogging, and it’s dying on its feet. I’m not interested in an SLR – I find those impossible for taking photos of myself. Just a nice, simple, high-quality camera that means I don’t always have to scurry outside for best light.

Because this is what happens! A bit of a Marilyn Monroe moment, overlooked by neighbours. Though a person might argue these are the best shots.

myosotis dress in silk

When I sewed my first Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress, I promised myself one in silk. It’s finally happened.

For this version, I used the last of my House of Hackney silk, bought in a sample sale. I didn’t have quite enough to add my usual extra ruffle hem, but I like this shorter, flirty version. Do you?

I took a lot of time over hand stitching various details and added some NW3 of Hobbs buttons, rescued from a cardigan…

I like the fact that I might confuse people. Hold on. Is that Hobbs or House of Hackney. Neither! It’s hand made.

nw3 button

The silk has a very dense weave, which sometimes makes it tricky to sew with. Silk pins definitely needed. But oh my goodness, the print and colour saturation!

dress on a manequinn

This is why we sew. So that we can feel the butter-smooth ripple of silk fibres against our skin as we stand in the wind. When most people are scurrying home, faces to the ground, we’re absorbing the joy of stitches made by our own hands. Stitches that allow silk to caress our bodies. And, really, it is a joy. I can’t think of a better reason to sew…

dress blowing in the wind

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

The Little Book Of Sewing Party!

Did You Make That At The Village Haberdashery

What are you doing on 11 April? Would you like to join Annie and I for a party to celebrate publication of The Little Book of Sewing?

There shall be nibbles and fizz and plenty of copies of the book, plus you’ll enjoy one of the most beautiful crafting spaces in London. The Village Haberdashery is a two-minute walk from three separate train stations – it couldn’t be easier to get to!

knitting village haberdashery

You can RSVP for your free place at the party here. We’d love to see you! I can’t promise that Ella shall attend (she doesn’t approve of humans having lots of loud fun) but I’ll be there and so will Annie – and so will the books!

The Little Book Of Sewing newsletter

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Galentine’s Prize Winner!


The person randomly selected from the Happy Galentine’s Giveaway is Rebecca Matthews who nominated her mum to receive two metres of Oriental Koi Lena Crepe from The Sewcial Studio. Isn’t it lush?


I’ll be in touch for a postal address, Rebecca!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments