Rosie in the Rainforest – and a Sew Over It giveaway!

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Ah, Sew Over It. I frequently feel as though they’re designing patterns specifically for me, and this latest has done nothing to break that particular delusion. The Rosie Dress is a 1950s-inspired summer dress of dreams, perfect for pretending you’re on a Roman Holiday, or helping Miss Marple solve a riddle of a crime (those are the kinds of daydreams I have). It features a fitted, boned and lined bodice and a twirly, girly pleated skirt (that can also be made as a garment in its own right), two strap and two neckline variations. And of course once you’ve exhausted all the featured options, it would also be a marvellous pattern to adapt – you could swap the pleated skirt for a gathered or circle option, play around with contrast fabrics, or make the skirt up in a lined wool for winter. Options: endless.

I was lucky enough to be asked to be a pattern tester again – and if you’re reading this you’re lucky enough to be in with a chance of winning a free copy of the Rosie pattern!

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These pics were taken on a Sunday family outing to the Barbican Conservatory. Hands up if you had no idea that such a place existed – I certainly didn’t! But it is in fact London’s second-largest hothouse (after Kew), a lush and unexpected oasis in the midst of the famously brutalist estate. I had been determined to find the right backdrop for this gorgeous parrot fabric (a lightweight lawn from SOI), and a tropical combo seemed moreover the perfect little nod to Rio – I’m an Olympics addict 🙂

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I made an initial attempt at pattern-matching the parrots, but the six bodice pieces of Rosie ultimately defeated me and I’ve ended up sporting the odd headless parrot. Something to be aware of if you’re using a very distinctly patterned fabric. I also made a simple muslin petticoat as the lawn was rather transparent; it gives my dress a fuller skirt than it would naturally have. And one more thing – the tester pattern had straps way too long (now corrected) so I criss-crossed mine over the back – that’s another easy hack right there!

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Anyway, if you would like to win a copy of the Rosie pattern, all you have to do is leave a comment below! The competition runs until midnight GMT next Sunday, 14 August, and I’ll announce the randomly chosen winner on Monday. Easy peasy, right? And, to boot I’ll also enter anyone who follows my blog (either via WordPress or Bloglovin) over the next week into the draw, so should you be so keen as to want a double entry you can boost your chances! Good luck and good sewjo!

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Oh, and in the meantime stay tuned for this Friday, which will see the reveal of my Butterick Big Vintage Sewalong make!



Spring Flowers Tea Dress

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s … the sun! The actual, warm, shining sun! It’s back! Could this be… spring??

Well, spring or not, I’m starting to get fed up of 70 denier tights and thermal vests (yes, I really do wear them – a lot) and so braved the weather a few days ago to crack out a make from last autumn. It’s another Sew Over It make, their 1940s tea dress. I wore it once after it was made, to the Made Up Initiative Meet Up, and then packed it away to await the return of the sun… Continue reading

Sew Over It Silk Cami


This was a real third time lucky project. A while back I became all fired up with the idea of having a rainbow selection of silk vests, so I would never be short of a top to match any skirt. I’d drafted my own silk vests previously, but really liked the fact that the Sew Over It Silk Cami was finished with a facing, and also not cut on the bias. So in a spirit of practical productivity I rushed to Goldhawk Road, the London home of affordable silks and picked up a brown, a fuchsia and a sandwashed black. I purchased 1m of each even though the pattern states more, because I’m short in the body and tight in the purse – and it was just about enough.

Having used a couple of SOI patterns previously and found the fit remarkably good, I ploughed ahead muslin-less and cut all three consecutively, ready to batch-sew them up. First I stitched up the brown, French seams and all – it was too tight across the bust. Then I stitched up the fuchsia, smaller French seams and all – it was still too tight across the bust. I looked at the black … and in rage bundled it down into the bottom of my fabric chest.

After calming down slightly I figured that the dartless front of the SOI cami simply wasn’t ever going to work with my front. I gave the brown and pink camis to my (smaller) sister and forgot about the black. But then a couple of days ago the pattern pieces magically resurfaced in the chest of their own accord (ok, so I may have been having a long-overdue tidy) and I decided to give it another go, French seams and – actually, no. No French seams. Overlocking!


With the tool of wonder that is my overlocker I whizzed together the pieces in no time at all. I’m still in the honeymoon period with this machine whereby it can do no wrong (even that time I spent an hour trying repeatedly rethreading because there was something wrong with the upper tension, before noticing I’d knocked the tension dial way off… even then my love did not diminish). And joy of joys, the cami fit!


(Ok, when I say it fits, I mean I can put it on and it feels good. There’s some terrible pooling happening in the back, but as I’m most likely to wear it tucked in or with a sloppy cardigan that doesn’t bother me as much as perhaps it should. I will however attempt to solve the problem before producing the dreamed-of rainbow of vests.)


And guess what, I felt so much love for my finished cami that I stuck leftover Valentine’s roses on my head in its honour.


You were wondering why I’d cropped off my head in the other pics, weren’t you?

There is in fact a bit of backstory here. I’m quite a girl for headpieces – hats, hairbands, bows. But I’ve not been able to find anything in the trend for floral headpieces that is remotely flattering, well-fitting, or affordable, except when I’ve used fresh flowers. Then, after finishing my cami, I wanted to take photos right away – I know that dusk is far from an ideal time for amateur photography but this was a gorgeous violet-hued evening and I couldn’t resist. I figured potentially grainy photographs of a black vest weren’t going to be much to look at, so hunted around for some props to liven things up. And that’s when I had the idea of pinning my fading roses into my hair.

I’d envisaged a Lana del Rey gothic/romantic look, but to be honest I mostly look much better grinning in photos. Otherwise the look is something akin to a grimacing thunder cloud.

Owing to the terrible light you’ll just have to take my word for it that the velvet of the rose petals did complement the matt suede-look of the sandwashed silk. I’d never used sandwashed silk before but I’m completely converted – I love its look and feel.


It’s much more ‘daytime’ than glossy silk and in black managed to make me feel positively edgy. Which is probably in turn what gave me the courage to attempt a crazy headpiece. That, and this piece by the fantastic Emma Gannon, on wearing what you want and being bold with it.


I’m actually really taken with the look and plan to create more fresh flower garlands from now on, instead of futilely searching for an overpriced silk version. Does anyone else find sewing a trigger for more experimental or creative looks? x

She wore a brand New Jersey; she wore a brand New Jersey…

Oh yes, she did – and then she wore it again, and again, until it wasn’t brand new any more (and still she kept on wearing it…).

This is the Agnes top from Tilly and the Buttons, and my first foray into the world of sewing knits. I followed Tilly’s ‘Learn to Sew Jersey Tops on a Regular Machine’ online course, and I can’t recommend this enough to any fellow knit-virgins. It’s simple, straightforward, and reassuring. What had once seemed daunting became positively relaxing. Honestly, jersey – where have you been all my life?!

Look at how straight those stripes run across the bust! (Don’t look at my left hand though, it’s being huge and creepy…)

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