The Outer Hebrides

This summer we went up North, and spend a couple of weeks camping in the Outer Hebrides, mainly in and on the water–open skies, brilliant colours, and eagles soaring above the bay.

Well ….

… only after our Outwell Montana 6 held its word and survived gale force 10 storms with only some minor bruises! While I was huffing and puffing lugging the heavy tend over uneven ground, when I saw other tends collapse like houses of cards around us I was rather grateful for our old lady! A local farm shop supplied us with fetching olive green and lined fishermen trousers–allowing walks to the beach. Maybe walks is a bit of an understatement, charging against the wind, stomping through wet sand, along a raging shoreline is probably a more adequate description. We played Ninja Paws, ate chocolate, and chatted while the tend hissed like a chained dragon trying to take off.

long exposure evening sky all blue hues
long exposure evening sky

Our weather app had thrown it’s virtual and proverbial hands in the air. Eventually the storm receded, and we were able to get out more. We went out with the kayaks, and while the boys were fishing, I made good use of the fishermen’s trousers and sat in the wet sand for long-exposure shots. We flew the kites, went to see standing stones, and even caught some days of such warmth that we swam in the Atlantic not needing our normal 5 mm wet suits. So all in all a perfect summer, after a wet and stormy start.

It is needless to say when spending time on Harris and Lewis the sew-inclined person has to visit Clò-Mòr the Harris Tweed exhibition. There are some interesting designer garments to see, and you can learn about the history of Harris Tweed. I reminisced in childhood memories combing some wool and had to have serious words with myself about budget for fabric!

The fabric I eventually decided for reminded me of the colours of the Highlands and Islands–and well, my favourite camping mug.

Whilst you can buy garments and some fabric at the exhibition, they have a bigger store in Tarbert close to the ferry terminal. And there it is really difficult to choose just one panel for making a dress! Did I say really, really? You could not buy lining there–or at least I don’t remember seeing lining, which is a bit a shame as they could sell lining matched with the beautiful wool they have in the shop. Once at home I tried to draft a couple of designs that would work with the dress and could not stop myself from superimposing the figure onto the landscape. More about the actual dress in the next blog post.

Eyeballing a Pattern

I found a mind running wild.
I fed it chocolate and ideas,
and send it on its way.
I found a heart running wild.
I fed it strawberries and love,
and send it on its way.
I found a soul running wild,
I fed it light and rain, fire, earth, and wind,
and send it on its way.
You wonder why?
Because that’s what my garden grows.
My garden grows, earth, light, rain and wind,
and trees full of chocolate and strawberries.

From my poetry blog

When sitting in the kitchen we can see out of the glass-front into the garden. Watching ‘garden TV’; the trees changing, camellia blooming, leaves growing and going, the birds, the creepy crawlies and occasionally neighbour’s tabby, a fox, or the odd deer nudging her nose at the kitchen window. Now when I saw the fabric below, I wanted to make a dress, which was like wearing our garden. 

There are kingfishers on the canal around the corner from home. And most of the plants on the fabric can be found in our garden.

Now I decided to experiment and take a pattern off one of my favourite dresses. The outcome was so bad I never even took a photo. At this point there was no chance of making or using another pattern so I literally eye-balled the pattern, pinned the dress around myself, stay-stitched the seams, cut bits and pieces off and added a zipper. After I had tailored the dress directly onto myself, it kind of sort of worked. 

This was the original idea. The teal coloured top, was supposed to be a double layer above the floral part. It didn’t work out well at all. So I took this section completely apart and rejiggled. Results below. 

One of my favourite patterns

The Autumn Dress: Macaron

I thought for Halloween I share my favourite autumn dress.

The pattern is by Colette called Macaron. The fabric I bought in a small shop in Helensburgh (Scotland) and it is environmentally friendly.

Trying to shoot these photos with my camera’s self-timer and some of the results are more hilarious than stylish:


If you pay close attention you can see the mistake I made sewing the back and front together. The waistband is not the same width front and back, not entirely sure how that happened.

What I really like with the pattern is: how easy it is to wear. I didn’t extend the length of the arms, to make it suitable for cold temperatures, so there is room to combine it with different coloured undershirts, picking up any of the hues from the patterned fabric. The best of course are the pockets! I was thinking of making a version with a hood. hm …

Tip: I didn’t like the lining feature around the neck, it tends to develop a life of its own, not looking neat. In the next iteration I would just make full lining for the red top section.

More about Halloween adventures and the magic of autumn later.


This is the first version of the dress I made before final fitting

The Magic of Stone (2): Hoodie Dress

And that’s it. The stone dress with elephants. Body armour for bad days.

Fake Pockets

fake elephant pockets
No. It’s not fake news, I cut out circles left and right to the waist and placed the lining in as design element and to make it look like pockets.

Of course it needed a hood.

Hood details with elephant lining
The lining for this dress is a maxi skirt I bought in ASDA. It looked horrible on me so I just cut it up, because I loved the elephants, and used it for lining.

and bell sleeves

I have a thing for bell sleeves
and as the original pattern’s arms were way too short for me anyway, I thought this was my chance to add some bell sleeves. I also placed more elephant lining into the bell part of the sleeve for a nice two colour effect.

Oh yes and sleeve extensions for long arms.

bell sleeves
You can see the sleeve has an extension just before the bell part. This was a mistake from my side I didn’t realise just how short the original pattern was, but it turned into a nice design element. I created the hood in such a way that it looks like a wide collar from front and the elephants create a visible contrast

Too short?

Do I need to make these dresses longer?
My friend today pointed out one of my dresses might be on the short side; and I realised they are mostly the same length. But I don’t want to look like my great-auntie either. Hm. Maybe adding a hand-width but keeping it above the knee? Length below the knee looks horrible on me, I tried that before.

It’s all about details

Adding little details brings everything together. It’s not quite straight though.

Sleeve details
I added some details to the dress

I am using the selvedge details as design element

selvedge details
The fabric has some really interesting selvedge details so I left it as it was and used it as design feature for the dress

The original pattern was a pullover.

I used a jumper pattern
and extended it with the French Curve. Hence the long darts that look like seams in the back, they came about during the final fitting.

Vintage Magic

It all Began with this Gorgeous Fabric


I ordered some and then tried to come up with a design that would work. As I am not yet able to create my own patterns I had to dig a bit deeper than usual and found the Butterick B6242 vintage reprint.

Don’t Judge Yourself by a Number

One of the soul-destroying and confidence-killing things when working with vintage patterns in the size numbers do not add up. So according to my measurements I would have been I think somewhere in the region of size 24 or so for this pattern. So I dutifully did calculations, and luckily ran a test pattern on an old piece of cotton. … I was still size 12-14! Even in the vintage sizing. I used the measurements on the back of the pack to calculate my size but the actual measurements in reality came to a different size. It was very strange.

Well one thing I want you to pay attention to. Have a look at the graphic of this pattern:

Did you notice that the width of the face is the same width as the waist! Now try to imagine this ratio in real life.

I went through a fat-and-ugly-moment and then continued creating the dress.

The first iteration though wasn’t quite right, without a zipper the waist was not tight enough to create the hourglass effect this pattern is supposed to work on, and keeping the fabric and lining at the same length simply creates this weird effect that makes one look much larger. Also the top bit was not sitting properly. So I took scissors and cut off the hemming disconnecting fabric from lining again, took in a good two inches on both sides at the waist and inserted a zipper.

I hate inserting zippers! This is my sewing Achilles heel! So I tried an invisible zipper as I had to sew it in top fabric down and the top fabric is stretchy gauze the zipper was too close to the top fabric and constantly became stuck. Now I took it out again (luckily before taking in the dress for it’s final measure) and inserted a normal zipper. The next step was to carefully hand-stitch the fabric over the zipper without it constantly becoming caught but making the zipper less obvious.

Another challenging part was the waist band for this dress. You need to take care to stretch the top material really tight for the ruffled effect, but also to ensure it won’t hang loosely. So I ruffled it and then pinned one side tight, pulling the top fabric as much as possible while stitching it to the lining.


Last but not least I cut the skirt lining about 25 cm shorter than the fabric, this already created the petticoat effect I had hoped for but I also bought an actual petticoat to wear underneath.

The Final Dress




Anyways. I am fairly happy with the outcome. As usual there a quite a lot of things that could have been done better, but I think they might not be too obvious with this statement dress.

Never Ever Again: The Wrap Dress

All I wanted was a twirling dress.

‘You are what?’
‘I am making a wrap dress.’
‘I have tried this once; never ever again.’ Unfortunately when I had this conversation with mum I was already in the middle of the experiment. After all the pattern does look nice.IMG_20180901_194525-01

And it is a Simplicity Pattern so what could go wrong—right? I love them. They always work.

I think you need way more experience and understanding of how patterns work than I had at the time. Apparently wrap-dresses are notoriously difficult to fit, it was either too loose or too wide in all the wrong places, and I could not figure out why it wouldn’t work. Never ever had I ever had such problems with fitting. Did I say never?

Little fixes

To make it fit and stay in place I inserted a hidden zipper underneath the back-decorative hemming, and the frog buttons are not symmetrically in their distance because they cover fitting sins and hide the bobbles from my fitting problems.

The Obi Belt

So after some botched-job fixes—just don’t look too closely or into the inside of the dress—the result was still not quite what I wanted it to be. As there were already frog buttons I decided to add an obi-style belt to it. So ensure it keeps its shape I inserted extra strong lining into the wide area of the belt.


So without much further ado some detailed shots … AND … the one thing that made all the fuzz worthwhile: The twirl!


The Twirl

I have created an Instagram account that goes with this blog but still need to transfer media across.

Vintage Art Nouveau Style Fabric

Making the NewLook 3641 Pattern

my way …


The fabric used for this dress is one of the vintage ones I mentioned in the previous post. Whilst it is not actual Art Nouveau the design is very much reflecting the continental Art Nouveau designs I love so much. Finding the right pattern for it took a while. As I mentioned before there is only so much fabric I have from mom’s stash so I had to find a pattern that would allow me to show off the pattern as best as possible yet wouldn’t use a vast amount to fabric.

NewLook 3641 seemed to be the best fit. There were several reasons for this choice: I had barely two meter of fabric, therefore I needed a pattern where pattern matching would not be too much of an issue. If you notice I managed to align two of the figures front centre of the dress but the rest is not pattern matched.


The advantage was that the pattern of the fabric had the main design character alternating head-up or head-down, which meant I could use the fabric most efficiently. Further, I wanted a dress with pockets, and one that would lend itself to lining, as the fabric is very thin and fairly transparent. And look at that gorgeous lining I managed to obtain from the left-over bin at Mandors here in Glasgow.

So there are some tips and tricks on how to sew on the lining. The best way is to sew two independent dressed and then put them together outsides facing, leave the bottom open you can hem this fairly easy or even sew bias tape around.

However, if you need a bit more control between the layers of top fabric and lining I would recommend to sew the panels together. This is what I did with my dress as the top-fabric would otherwise not stay in shape. There is a trick to how to make the seam across the shoulders where front and back come together nice.

For putting the shoulder straps together. Leave the seams between the lining and the top-fabric open, fold the fabric and lining into the shoulder strap, by width of seam allowance, and iron into place. Then move the front strap into the created ‘pipe’ again by width of seam-allowance and then carefully top stitch it together.

While I love dresses with pockets, or skirts, trousers, any item of clothing with pockets. I really don’t like making them they are so fiddly and I still haven’t entirely gotten the hang of it. BUT! I finally hacked the invisible zipper! Which, until this dress, has been the bane of my sewist-existence.


I can highly recommend this pattern. It is a very comfortable fit, easy to wear. You can dress it up or down and it has pockets. (Just in case I haven’t told you about the pockets yet.) I still consider myself a beginner when it comes to sewing and this pattern was really easy to follow. If you pay close attention you can see the pink iron-away textile marker guides on the fabric. As long as you make sure you stick to these the dress will come out really well.

I tweaked the pattern a bit and changed the straight line front hem into the curved front and added curved hem to the back as well. With the type of fabric I used it provided nicer movement and fit.