Pattern testing the Mayberry Dress

I was recently lucky enough to test the new Mayberry dress pattern by Jennifer Lauren Handmade. It was my first ever pattern testing experience and it was so much fun! 

The pattern is a shirt-waist dress with an offset button placket, cup size options, a drawstring at the waist and a range of sleeve options. I chose the short sleeved option. 

I followed the pattern exactly and made a 16C and the only alteration I think I would make in the future is to add half an inch of length at the waist which is a common alteration from me because I’m quite tall. 

I used a lovely lightweight black linen for the bodice and then a longyi that I bought in a market in Nyaung Shwe in Burma for the skirt – it’s a sort of olive-y green with tiny black stripes and little slubs. It also had a lovely stripe around the bottom that I couldn’t incorporate into the skirt because of fabric space, so I cut it off and used it for the drawstring. 

I used some lovely black mother of pearl buttons from my aunt’s mother’s button box, they shine all sorts of colours in the light but are very hard to photograph! 

The bodice fit is really brilliant, there are bust darts and then the waist is shaped by the drawstring. The fit of the shoulders and sleeves is really good too. 

The skirt is a gentle A-line with the waist shaping again coming from the drawstring.

The construction was straightforward and the facings sit really nicely and give a really clean finish. I overlocked the edges of the facings and the hem before turning in. 

I am not normally one to follow sewing instructions unless I come across something I haven’t done before, but it was really refreshing to go over each step in detail and take things slowly and carefully. Jennifer’s instructions are excellent, very clear text and illustrations, and I am thrilled with the dress. Also, pockets! 

As you can see, this dress got a lot of wear on holiday! 

Thanks to Jennifer for the opportunity to test this lovely pattern! 

McCalls 6696 – the great upside down shirt dress 

I actually made this dress a year ago but it’s one of my favourites and I took it on holiday with me, so I thought I would put it up here anyway. 

This is my attempt at view A of McCalls 6696, the pattern that everyone made last summer. 

I used this absolutely beautiful Liberty lawn – it has tiny people at a garden party and bridges and trees. I had 3.2m and used every last bit, I had to cut the inside yoke and waistband from plain white lawn. 

I also managed – and I still have zero idea how I did this – to cut out the entire dress with the pattern upside down. Thankfully it’s a small scale print so not obvious really, but I could have kicked myself for it!

This is a great pattern. As many people do, I converted the gathers to pleats because cotton lawn isn’t very drapey. 

I followed the instruction for this one, which meant LOADS of hand stitching – not usually my jam, but a lovely finish on such a fine fabric. 

And it has pockets, yay!

It’s a bit too big but I think it contributes to the breezy feeling of the lawn. I added the waist button on the inside of the waistband so it wouldn’t get in the way of a belt. 

I am actually making a different view of this one at the moment, so that will be up soon – though sadly not with the lovely Greek countryside in the background! 

Burda 06/17 cactus dress

I saw a woman on the overground wearing a dress with cactuses on it and just had to have one for myself. 

I found this satin fabric on eBay and bought 2 metres. 

The pattern is 101 from the June Burda and it’s actually a top pattern, but I liked the shape so I left out the sleeves, lengthened it into a dress and made a tie belt for the waist. 

This went together really quickly, despite the best efforts of the satin to resist me – it took a press well but frayed a lot! 

The shaping is formed by a little pleat at the bottom of the placket at the front and a big pleat into the collar at the back. 

It has a slight high-low hem that I like a lot, though due to the weight of the back pleat and the slipperiness of the fabric, it does slide back even more – I need to weight the front hem. 

I made a self-fabric tie belt. When I’m on holiday I wear it unbelted for a breezy, summery feel but in real life I belt it so as not to lose my waist. 



Ooh I’ve written ‘belt’ too many times now and it doesn’t look like a word any more. 

 Next time, a Liberty print McCalls 6696! 

Life, lemons, lemon dresses – another Vogue 9182 

Hot on the heels (hem?) of my gingham Vogue 9182 is my second version – lemons! 

I love the print – it’s very Dolce and Gabbana! This particular cotton poplin seems to be very popular at the moment, I’ve seen lots of people making fabulous things with it on instagram. I chose the black colourway and actually found it quite hard to track down, ordering it from Australia in the end. Worth it! 

I mentioned all the pattern review points in my previous post, really – though as ever, the fabric selection makes a huge difference. This cotton poplin has a much stiffer hand than the viscose, so the skirt sticks out more. I like the Sicilian drama of it. 

I lined the bodice in a lovely light black viscose which had been in the stash forever. 

The skirt seams were finished on my overlocker. 

The buttons for this dress are black and gold plastic that I bought in Scott Market in Yangon when we were there last Christmas. I love button and fabric souvenirs so much. 

All that remains are the twirly photos! 

Next time, a Burda dress in a cactus print satin! 

Black and white gingham Vogue 9182

Vogue 9182 has really been the pattern of the summer for me – I love the button closure, the straps, the pockets, the scooped back bodice and the twirly skirt. 

I made the first one in a black and white viscose blend gingham from Minerva Crafts (quiiite similar to the fabric on the pattern envelope…). I bought 3 metres and that circle skirt really uses up every last bit! 

I used the shorter skirt length which hits just below the knee on me (I’m quite tall). 

This dress went together very smoothly and the princess seams at the front and back make little fitting tweaks easy. The bodice has different pattern pieces for cup sizes A-D, I used a C-cup and it fits really well. 

I really like the scooped back and how it fits my back. I have work this dress a lot as it can go from work to evening and also to picnics and holidays and other lovely summery things. 

I had wanted a black and white gingham dress for ages and the fabric is perfect – the viscose means that although there is a lot of skirt, it hangs and moves really nicely. 

And of course, pockets make everything better! 

I lined the bodice with some white cotton lawn, which is so nice to have against my skin in the heat. 

I used some lovely gold metal buttons that I bought at Liberty – shopping for buttons there is such a lovely, calm experience. I was going to use plain black buttons but after a quick family poll I went with the gold ones and I’m very glad i did. 

And of course, I can’t share a circle skirt without the obligatory twirling photos! Here goes. 

I liked this dress so much that I made another one, this time in a cotton poplin covered in lemons – post coming soon! 

Burda Shirt 111A/April 2017

I am sort-of on track on my Burda pledge this year, though not managing to make things in the same month as the magazine. This shirt is from the April 2017 issue, pattern 111A. 

Its a short-sleeved, oversized shirt with a single-layer yoke, mandarin collar and narrow button band. I was looking for the perfect summer top and gave it a go – I was quite surprised at how much I loved my version of this one, so swiftly made another and have some more planned. 
My first version is in a white chambray, constructed as per the pattern minus the sleeve bands. My fabric is quite a beefy cotton and I thought they might stick out a bit, so left them off. 

The collar and how it finishes before the button band is an interesting feature (though quite fiddly to sew). 

I used some lovely jade buttons that my family brought me back from a trip to Thailand and had fun deciding how to attach them as they’re single-hole buttons. 

I really like the fit of this shirt, I think it is relaxed and oversized without being shapeless. The bodice is shaped with two pleats where the shoulder seam meets the yoke. 

I made the next version very swiftly after, just in time to take on holiday where I wanted to wear it almost every day. This time I used this absolutely brilliant printed cotton lawn from Liberty called Birds of Paradise – there are turquoise flamingoes, toucans, parrots and pineapples amongst others.

 This print makes me so happy, as you can see…

I changed the collar slightly for this one as I thought the original collar was quite distinctive. I just extended the collar piece to finish at the edge of the button band, as per normal shirts. 

This one went together very quickly. After much deliberation of which colour to pick out with the buttons, I used some lovely pink mother of pearl buttons from my aunt’s mother’s button box – I use buttons from here all the time, it’s a treasure trove. 

I finished the seam allowances on both shirts on my overlocker. 

The Liberty one fits slightly differently because the cotton lawn is finer than the chambray. 

I love these shirts and have plans to make one in a polka dot burgundy cotton, a cobalt blue Burmese cotton, maybe a bright green linen…

The shorts in these photos are the Sewaholic Thurlow shorts in a navy bengaline, which is another brilliant pattern. 
Next time, a twirly gingham Vogue 9182 dress. 

Crystal Maze Sophie Swimsuit 

And now for a key holiday item! This is my version of the one piece Sophie Swimsuit from Closet Case Files in this fab Crystal Maze fabric from FunkiFabrics. 

This is the second holiday I have taken this swimsuit on and I love it. It was so much fun to make and the fit is pretty much perfect. 

I made a size 14 with the biggest cup size, grading to a 16 at the hip and adding an inch to the length (I am quite tall and not a fan of the perma-wedgie you can get from too-short swimsuits!). I only had black bra foam and underwire channeling from previous bra projects but it doesn’t show through on the right side. I lined it with a thin swimsuit lining in white. 

I really recommend the FunkiFabrics Lycra, by the way. It’s quite expensive (about £25/metre I think) but really worth it as it’s thick and has amazing stretch recovery. 

The instructions were brilliant and I am thrilled with how clean the finish is, especially around the cups and how the underwire is finished at centre front. 

I want to make the bikini version of this for a future holiday and have the perfect banana leaf jersey from the same FunkiFabrics order to do it. 

Here I am having a great and totally unposed time in my swimsuit:

Next time, a pair of summery shirts from a Burda pattern. 

Purple Longyi Dress – B4443

After yet another unintentionally long break from blogging – oops – I am back again and ready to keep things up in earnest, to which end I have also started an instagram for sewing: @topstitchrollhem

I am on holiday with a suitcase full of me-made holiday clothes, some new for this holiday and some old, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to get some photos in the lovely Greek sunshine. 

First up, this dress:

Isn’t the fabric great?! I bought it in a market in Nyaung Shwe in Burma, it’s a purple and black longyi with a checked, embroidered section and sparkly copper threads. 

I used the embroidered section for the bodice (even the reverse of the fabric is gorgeous). 

And the striped section for the skirt. The longyi was about 2m by 1m total and there was enough fabric for this dress and for a beanbag made of scraps to use as a camera support that I have as a present. 

The dress is based on the pattern Butterick B4443 – I used the strapless bodice from the pattern but cut the back on the fold and added seam allowances and cut two of the front so that I could make it button-front. 

There was a lot of ease so although I started with a size 18 I took at least 2 inches out of the sides (I don’t understand how a strapless bodice works with that much ease!).  

The skirt is just a rectangle of fabric, gathered using shirring elastic – I like this method because it is quick! – and I left the elastic in afterwards to help bring the waist in. 

The bodice is lined with a leftover of this lovely Liberty print from a failed project a couple of years ago, I’m happy to have found a good use for it (also happy to have justification for my GIANT scraps bag…). 

The buttons are plain black shell buttons, wrong side out for a bit of texture and secured with purple thread. 

The straps are strips from the skirt fabric but cut on the cross for little stripes. 

I am a bit obsessed with all things buttoned at the moment and this is what really kicked off that obsession. 

I haven’t worn it loads in real life because it requires a strapless bra and is a bit revealing for work, but as it’s lovely, floaty cotton it is absolutely the perfect holiday dress and I have loved wearing it this week! 

Ladybird baby blanket

A dear friend of mine is expecting a baby soon, so I thought I ought to make something for her. 

The ladybird fabric is from the Textile Centre and the matching cottons are from John Lewis. I wanted to make a quilted blanket, so I quilted the ladybird fabric onto some wadding, which took hours and hours. 

And involved some wrestling to get it through the machine!  Very soothing sewing though, I just used a one-inch quilting foot as a guide and happily sewed lots of straight lines. 

Quilted ladybirds! I then sewed the plain green backing on (I was going to quilt it together too but the wadding was too thick, so the reverse is smooth) and then smoothed off the corners, made some bias binding and sewed it round the edges. 

One baby blanket! I was quite pleased with the binding finish as I normally end up with puckers, but I used about a million pins and it went in ok. 

And with the reverse showing. 

I had some of the ladybird fabric left, so I decided to make a couple of dribble bibs too (I think they’re so cute!).

And they could not be simpler to make! Hurrah. I used some lovely soft grey jersey for the reverse. 

And hammered some snaps in (so satisfying!). 

I hope she is pleased with them! 

I still have some makes from last weekend to catch up on, and this weekend I am hoping to sew the first of my Burda challenge makes – all traced off and ready to go. 

Ginger jeans

I really enjoy sewing jeans; the construction and the double topstitching are so satisfying. This is the fantastic Ginger jeans pattern from Closet Case files, I made view B with the high waist and skinny legs. 

This is my third time making Gingers – the first were black denim that stretched out really quickly, so I cut them off into shorts, and the second pair I made from some lovely stiff navy denim I bought in a coupon shop in Paris. These ones are ‘black’ denim with 3% spandex from – it’s lovely and soft, but definitely  grey, not black. 

I wore them today and they only stretched out a little bit. Construction was straightforward – those fly-front instructions are so good – I made a straight size 16 and just made the waistband a little bit smaller. 

They fit so well! I love this pattern. This is the first time I’ve done contrast topstitching and it looks fine unless you get too close. I’m a bit of a ‘that’ll do’ merchant about that sort of thing. 

I used my overlocker to finish the seams, I’m so happy with it. 

I made the pocket stay variation and used some fun/ridiculous Elmer the patchwork elephant fabric I had a sample of from my old job. 

The front pocket facing is blue gingham from an old work shirt of my boyfriend’s. 

As I mentioned before, I went a bit bonkers buying jersey last week (mostly due to over-excitement about the overlocker but also cos January) so I have run up a few quick projects this weekend…

I particularly love that floral. They’ll be up here soon!