Shopping Revelations No 2

Since starting to sew more I’ve definitely found myself buying less. When I do go shopping (I still haven’t weaned myself off totally), I try not to buy things I could make myself, like simple skirts or tops. Although I must admit to a weakness for pretty much anything from Hobbs, especially their NW3 range, and for prints that I know I won’t be able to find anything similar to. And of course there’s a whole host of items that are completely beyond my present skills… But on the whole, one of the upshots of less shopping is that when I do buy things, I feel I can justify spending just a little bit more than I used to.

So prior to our annual, family holiday this year I treated myself to four new bikinis. Last year I ‘made do’ with a few I’d had for years, which had definitely seen better days, further adding to my justification of course ;-). I bought two from the Debenhams’ ‘Floozie by Frost French’ range which come in different cup sizes, great if you’re slightly bigger than average like me (equally if you’re smaller too I’m guessing?). As we went to the Greek Island of Rhodes this year and spent most of our time on the beach or by the pool, I wore these two sets pretty much all day and can highly recommend them as they were so supportive and comfy. I also bought an expensive (for me!) Seafolly one, which was equally successful. My fourth (from another UK department store, John Lewis), wasn’t quite such a hit. It looked lovely and was great for sunbathing horizontally, but jumping in the waves with the kids, certainly had its ‘hazards’ shall we say?

So all in all, money well spent. What I didn’t want to spend my money on however was matching kaftans or sarongs, lovely though many of them are, this was definitely an area I felt I could have a go at making for myself. Most of the RTW ones are so flimsy they seem hardly worth the outlay, and they just get covered in suntan lotion, which is always impossible to wash out fully. The free pattern with last month’s ‘Love Sewing’ magazine, ‘Sewgirl’s Summer Tunic’ fitted the bill perfectly.


This is was a really simple, beginners’ project, with straightforward instructions (found in the actual magazine, rather than the pattern envelope, which took me a little while to work out, doh!). The only bit I found confusing was stitching and attaching the ‘rouleau’. Because it was such a small, fiddly bit of fabric my machine kept attempting to ‘eat’ it… This also wasn’t helped by leaving finishing these off until the very night before we were due to fly… Hmmm, best laid plans and all that! Anyway, seeing as I had plenty of trimmings to hand I improvised and it all worked out just fine.


So did I wear them?

Absolutely! Seen here on the beach and by our villa pool.

Were they fit for purpose?

Again, absolutely! The first one was a really light weight, cotton ‘dobby’ fabric (at least I think that’s what it’s called) and was perfect for throwing on over swimwear and slightly sore skin. The second was a cotton / linen mix which was slightly heavier to wear, but gave the style just a little more shape.

And lastly, were they flattering?

Well, in a word NO! As a short, pasty Brit, robbed of her usual armour of heels and pretty structured clothing, quite frankly I need all the help I can get to look even vaguely decent on a beach… And rather than leave these until the night before next year’s holiday I set to work on them straight away, while I could still remember what needed fixing…

So here they are before…


And after…

Version one:


For this one I quickly chopped off a good six cm from the length of the sleeves. I felt I was drowning in the original ones! And then copying a beach cover-up I actually felt more ‘myself’ in, I attached a band (lined with interfacing) to convert it into more of an empire line. I then attached two slimmer ties (loosely based on Tilly’s Walnes’ Brigitte scarf pattern) to the back to pull myself in and then sewed the band onto the original. It looks kind of wonky in the above photo, but it is straight, promise! This make such a difference to the fit, I’m really pleased with the edited result. It’s been so cold since we got back on Wednesday that there’s no way I’m trying it on to be photographed. Seriously, I’ve worn socks and boots since we got back AND we’ve had to put the heating on! It is officially Autumn here in the UK 😦

And version two:


Because this was a more sturdy fabric I ended up simply rolling the sleeves while we were away, so I just sewed up my turn ups to make them more secure. I didn’t think my previous band and ties method would work for this one, as it would just be too bulky at the back. Instead I opted for a simple, loose, tie belt with a couple of belt hoops to secure it. I used Tilly Walnes’ guide (Love At First Stitch) for both for rough guidance, adjusting to my own measurements. The belt hoops were a little fiddly… There’s a reason there’s no close up! But it’s the first time I’ve made any and they anchor the belt just fine. I’m really pleased I’ve taken the time to adjust these before I pack them away until next Summer, which now seems a long way off…


Mamma Mia, Here I Go Again…

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She’s only gone and made another! I was so pleased with my last Coco Top, that I cracked straight on with my second. My fabric, as usual, came from Leon’s in Chorlton. Not quite sure you can see in the photos, but the main body’s a narrow charcoal grey and white stripe. This was slightly migraine-inducing while I was making it up, but I’m pleased to report it’s a pleasure to wear. I’ve worn it all day today and no-one’s complained I gave them a headache, so fingers crossed, it was just from studying it closely, whilst sewing. As you can see I was inspired by Tilly’s versions in the instructions, and went for a contrasting pocket, and while I was at it, a pair of fetching, contrasting cuffs 🙂

Again, the main body of this sewed up simply and quickly, but boy did those cuffs cause me some stress! I think I must have whatever the sewing equivalent of not knowing your left from your right is. If I said I read this particular section of the instructions twenty times over, I don’t think I’d be exaggerating! I tried consulting Tilly’s online tutorials (which I’d forgotten existed for my first attempt at this, doh!), but it was no use I didn’t know my width from my length, and it was fast becoming all double-Dutch to me! It was at this point that my husband suggested I put it down for the day. Don’t you just hate it when they’re right?!!

The next morning I picked it up again and just made it up. This didn’t go quite to plan, and I ended up unpicking the darn things several times, grrrr! But I got there, or as close as, eventually! To be fair to Tilly the rest of the instructions were perfectly clear, so I presume that these were too, to any normal sewers that is. Come to think of it, I’ve never attached cuffs before, so that was probably the problem…


I’m so glad I’ve conquered my knit-phobia with these two tops. And with it, I’ve cracked sewing my own casual, weekend wear too. These two Cocos will be perfect for messing around with my kids at the weekend. Oh, and I promised them I’d mention my latest accessory they made me…


It’s a rose bud bracelet. Are everyone else’s monkeys currently obsessed with loom bands? Their Cousins over in America, say the craze hit them about six months ago, and has since waned. It’s still going strong here! Well, they’re cheap, and they keep them quiet for hours, so I’m happy to embrace them for now…

She’s only gone and finally got her knit on…

Drum roll please…. Yep, you did hear that right. I’ve only gone and made my first knitted item of clothing! Step forward my first (of many, no doubt) Coco top…

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I am so proud of this 🙂 And do you know, it was absolutely pain free. I think my fear of knits actually came from reading too many ‘how to’ guides if that’s at all possible. Possibly one of the few disadvantages of reading too many blogs (that, and a ever-expanding, sometimes overwhelming ‘to-sew’ list 😉 ). I got totally confused as to how to even start. In the end I followed the advice of my machine shop, and purchased a stretch needle and it was as simple as that really.

I’m sure everyone has heard of the Coco top by now. But just in case you haven’t, it’s an Indie pattern by Tilly of Tilly and The Buttons fame. The instructions were clear, straightforward, and accompanied by plenty of photographic help, which I always find invaluable. I discovered my machine has a programmed ‘knit stitch’ which I think, although I could be wrong, is also sometimes referred to as lightening stitch. It makes that kind of pattern at any rate. I did a mixture of this stitch and Tilly’s instructions, which consisted of a mixture of zigzag and straight stitch.

And dare I say it, but I actually found working with knits easier than working with wovens, despite their ‘difficult’ tag. Purchasing said knit fabrics wasn’t as straight forward. It was only at the third shop I visited that I actually succeeded in finding any appropriate fabric. I know I probably could have gone online, but at the moment I like to actually see and feel the fabrics. I also find the advice of staff invaluable. As usual, it was Leon’s of Chorlton that came up trumps. I actually purchased three different knit fabrics, but thought I’d start with the cheapest first.

This wasn’t only a knit fabric, but a striped one too, but I promised myself that I wasn’t going to get too stressed about matching my stripes. Actually, I didn’t do too badly. It’s slightly longer on one side somehow, but I can live with that.

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There’s not an awful lot more to say really. I plumped for the simplest version with a small pocket and, after much deliberation, opted for the size 3, which I think turned out perfectly. I even added a little extra ribbon simply for my pleasure. I know, get me!

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And did I mention it’s navy blue? 😉