Wax Print Wednesday: Cleo

cleo wax front 1

Cleo! Wax print!

I can’t say I thought of making Tilly and the Buttons’ Cleo up in a wax print all by myself – the idea came from the lovely Meg at Pigeon Wishes, when she posted her amazing yellow Cleo. But that’s the benefit of being constantly late to the party with new sewing patterns – you get to steal ideas from everyone else…

This is my second Cleo (I made one in a handsome black corduroy just before Christmas, but I’ve completely given up on the idea of blogging all my makes in chronological order), and I absolutely love the pattern. I know, I know, I must be the millionth person to say it, but it sews up so nicely and is such a lovely shape.

cleo wax front 2

cleo wax front 3

cleo wax back

As for the fit, I didn’t change anything. You might notice a bit of buckling on the bib, and I think maybe I could take a tuck out of the pattern and fix it, but honestly, I can’t be bothered. Guess what else I didn’t bother with? Matching the pattern on the back. That was partly laziness and partly fear – I am not great at matching. That fear is also what drove me to cut the front on the fold and skip the topstitching – I didn’t want to end up with any severed fingers right on the centre front! I did make an effort with the pattern placement though: I figured it was worth the time to make sure I didn’t have any unfortunately placed hands over my boobs!!

Hey and how about the fabric? I got it from Ktextile19 on Etsy specifically for this project. They don’t have any of this one left, but they have all sorts of gorgeous African prints (in fact, it’s also where I got the fabric for this dress).

That’s all I have to say about Cleo (summary: love it), but I should probably add that I live in London now – hence you can see St Paul’s Cathedral in the background of that last photo. I moved quite recently for work, so you can expect less greenery and more famous buildings in future posts!


Robe ananas Lilou

I feel a bit like I’m late to the party. The room is just full of people sauntering over in swishing Delphines, grasping cocktail glasses in gauzy Mimis, and stepping out to smoke in slinky Megans. And here I am, sidling in in my Lilou, a copy of Love At First Stitch under my arm, hoping no one minds.

So I may be late, but the party is still a good one. I am really impressed with Tilly’s book. I might have been sewing long enough to know how to mark darts and use interfacing, but I still found myself reading her instructions on basic techniques such as these. They are so clear and perfect for beginners. And the steps for each of the patterns – including photos! – are great whether you’re a beginner or not.

I plan on making basically everything from Love At First Stitch, but I decided to start with Lilou. Maybe it’s a little counter-intuitive, seeing as it’s the final pattern in the book, but there we are.




The fabric! I knew I had to have it the moment I saw it. Pink AND pineapples? Now there’s an alliterative theme I can get on board with. I got mine from the Etsy shop On Trend Fabrics (for £5.75 a metre), although I’ve since seen it on Fabrics Galore (for £8 a metre) via Rosabella’s vlog on her August fabrics. I’m excited to see the dress she makes with it!

I mentioned when I said I was going to make Lilou in my August sewing list post that I thought I’d have to make a lot of fitting alterations… but wow did I make a lot of fitting alterations.


I did a full bust adjustment (obv) and made a toile, hoping my work here was done… Erm, no. I moved the side dart down and made up another toile, but it still wasn’t sitting right (for you non-sewists, the line the dart makes in the fabric when it’s sewn up is meant to point towards the ‘apex’ of one’s bust…). So I changed the angle of the dart. I couldn’t face making another toile though, so I decided to just cross my fingers and hope. I’d run out of sellotape (hence the parcel tape in the photos) and I was going mad.

The darts still aren’t quite right. You can see in the photos above that they’re making the fabric stand out weirdly, but I’m hoping I can fix that by making them a little deeper. What I don’t know how to fix – and I’m hoping, Internet, that you can help me here – is this weird little pucker the straps are making:


Why?? Are they too long in the front? Is the bodice too tight across the chest and can’t sit low enough? Why why why??

I also lengthened the skirt by five and a half inches (nearly 14 centimetres), but I expected that – I like my skirts to finish just below the knee. Even with the extra length, I managed to squeeze the dress out of two metres of 150cm wide fabric – super economical.

Right – fitting rant over. The pattern itself is lovely. The pleats sit really nicely (it’s the first time I’ve sewn pleats like this, but the explanation of how to do it was really clear, so no worries there). The front neckline is great, the back neckline is great, the skirt has exactly the right amount of swish and fullness – yay! I’m really happy with it and I’ll definitely be using it again. I just want to sort out the straps and darts, and then I plan to make a whole lot more.

And the best thing about the pineapple fabric? I got to crack out my pineapple earrings.


Goodwill to all men!

I was determined to make my own dress for Christmas this year. For one thing, I feel like I’ve worn all my party-type dresses to death, and secondly, we’re coming up on my one-year anniversary with sewing, and it seemed like an appropriate was to celebrate!

I got the pattern free with Sew Magazine – in fact, I’d been having a rough time and my Mama came home with a copy for me. The pattern is New Look 6723, and I decided to make view C, because I loooove an elegant boat neckline-sleeve combo in an evening dress.

In the magazine, they’d made a version out of silk dupion, listed at £20 a metre. Hmm. I can’t afford that kind of fabric, but it looked beautiful. Thankfully, I managed to find a likely substitute in the form of some faux silk dupion from eBay. I have to say, I was a little worried it was too good to be true – was I going to end up with three metres of shiny sweaty nightmare? But the fabric is actually really nice. Of course, you can tell if you touch it that it isn’t silk, and it doesn’t drape like silk, but it is still really lovely. I bought the colour “emerald” (fitting), but it has gold-y highlights and doesn’t feel too clingy and sweaty.

Want to see?



It wasn’t difficult to make, although I don’t think my gathers are beautiful. Does anyone have a sure-fire technique for gathering fabric? I don’t understand how to make it even, then I get annoyed and give up. It took a little while – in fact, I finished all the hand-hemming on Christmas day morning!

The bodice is lined (but not the sleeves or the skirt, which suits me) and it was pretty nice to fit. I strongly recommend checking out this tutorial for doing a full-bust adjustment for princess seamed bodices. I think I might still need to take some material out between the shoulders and the “apex of the bust”. I think that’s why there are some wrinkles in the fabric there.

I paired it with gold eyes, nails, and earrings to bring out the gold tones in the fabric.


I love the pattern and I want to make it in some other fabrics too – maybe a classic floral cotton? Let me know what you think!

Flower Power – Simple Sew English Tea Dress

It’s funny, when I took this photo, I didn’t notice the stack of fertiliser or the cat in the background. I hope you can forgive me and understand that I was transfixed by how amazing my friend Nina looks in her dress.

The pattern is the Simple Sew English Tea Dress. I got it free with Issue 15 of Love Sewing, which you can order here. Nina picked it out of my pattern collection straight away. I had been um-ing and ah-ing about it because I wasn’t keen on the way the bodice looks on the envelope cover – but as it turns out, Nina was right and I was a fool.

The construction was super simple. I think this would definitely be suitable for a “first dress” – and you more experienced sewists could knock one out in a couple of hours for a last minute event! The most complicated part is the sleeves, but thanks to the gathers, you shouldn’t have any kind of easing nightmare. (For you non-sewers – there is more fabric in a sleeve than in the armhole it’s going into, so it can be hard to make it look neat and flat. From now on, be impressed whenever you see a sleeve.) The pattern also includes three sleeve lengths – I used the shortest one.

The fabric is from John Lewis, a fancy department store here in the UK. They’re one of the few high street chains that still have a haberdashery, and I love going in there – but unfortunately, they can be quite expensive. This cotton was in the sale (I think at £8 a metre) and isn’t available online any more. If you have a John Lewis near you, run, quick! They may still have some. I think the blue and the lilac is a really lovely colour combination.

As well as being a little English rose beauty, Nina is a teacher, and when she “commissioned” a dress, we talked about how it had to be suitable for work: not too revealing, smart but comfortable and easy to move around in. I think this really hits the mark.

Guest starring George!