Nautical stashbusting tunic

Knit top 1

Mr B and I wanted to have a little holiday before hitting the third trimester, while I’m feeling reasonably well; gearing up for the roller-coaster-slide to the due date.  I fancied a few days at the seaside, so we pitched up at lovely Ventnor on the Isle of Wight:


Ventnor iow map

I finished this top just in time to chuck it in the suitcase. The pattern’s a vintage one from 1979, which came home for free from April’s epic V&A meetup – thankyou, anonymous swap contributor!

Simplicity 9196

Check out that classy velvet number, accessorised with side ponytail!  Normally I would have looked right past this one, but it’s a loose stretch knit with a belted waist, which makes big waves on my maternity sewing radar.  Plus, the yellow version actually looks super-cute (sort of 1970s does 40s homage?)

The stripy stuff came from this Dorothy Perkins vest top, £1.50 from the local Barnardos.  I had a go at wearing it as-is, but the fabric is really flimsy and those white sections are almost see-through: much too high-maintenance.  Instead, there was just enough room to cut the four collar pieces.

Collar restyle vest

The blue fabric has been sitting in my stash for a few years, so all I needed to buy was some knit interfacing.  Yep, knit interfacing – REVELATION.  I have something of a crush on interfacing generally – it just makes fabric pieces so beautiful and crisp and mmm.  And you can get it for knits as well?  How did I not know already?!

Knit top 2

For what’s essentially a baggy t-shirt, I think the collar and gathered sleeves really notch it up a level.  Wouldn’t it make a good work outfit in a nice jersey fabric?

The Daisy Duvet dress

Duvet daisy dress 1

This was a gem of a find in a charity shop – a cute and quirky duvet cover, in a nice crisp cotton blend, for £3:

Daisy duvet 2

I almost balked at cutting it into pieces… but it was much easier once I realised the whole print is truly deeply wonky! (Though that also made the actual cutting logistically harder…)

Daisy duvet

I wanted a pattern that would showcase the print without too many darts or seams, and plumped for the beautifully simple Victory Hazel dress which I’ve used twice before:

RWB Hazel dress

Red White and Blue Dress

Summerbirds dress 1

Victory Hazel bodice

So a few maternity adaptations: I added 1/2 inch to each of the bodice seams to give an extra 2 inches round the bust; and added eight pleats across the front skirt (all 1 inch deep and 1 inch apart) to make space for the bump.

Duvet daisy dress 5

…with a bit of contrast on the back

Duvet daisy dress 2

Which sort of blends back in along the sides:

Duvet daisy dress 3

I almost finished this for May, but my Me-Made-May pledge fell sadly by the wayside this year.  I should have pledged to wear all the things that still fit me and to sew as much maternity wear as possible – in retrospect, I was far too over-optimistic about how much sewing I’d get done (what’s new, eh).  These days, more and more time is taken up with antenatal appointments, and sometimes I’m too tired to clean my teeth in the evening, let alone thread a sewing machine and get stitching.

Duvet daisy dress 6But voila, this did get finished; it makes me feel pretty; it’s cool and comfortable; and it doesn’t need ironing.  Win, win, win.

Maternity transitions: Vogue 8645

Script top 2

The ultimate aim in maternity sewing: a garment that will fit the whole way through pregnancy – and beyond.  Once I’ve spent sewing time on something, I expect some potential for years of wearing, don’t you?  And I think I’ve hit on an ideal pattern here with Vogue 8645.


See, it’s not a specific maternity pattern: the shape comes from wherever the belt sits.  Normally it would be round the waist, like in the pattern illustration.  Right now, I can belt it above the bump – and there’s still space in the skirt, and around the bust from the shoulder gathers.

Script top 1

The fabric is an Ikea print – I resisted on two consecutive trips, but the third was too much and I came home with 4 metres of it.  Just as well, as the cutting placement demanded serious yardage to line up the script on the front and back (as far as possible – the sections all fan out below the waist).

Script top back

I first wore this to the epic sewing meet-up last month, under my Megan Nielsen maternity skirt (it wasn’t hemmed!)


But now that it’s properly finished, it’s a huge part of my current wardrobe.  The shoulder ties keep bra straps under wraps, and it’s roomy without gaping or slipping around.

Script top 4

So of course I’ve already got another V8645 on the sewing table, lining up some stripes this time…

stripy fabric

Very Easy Vogue – does what it says on the envelope.  Snap it up fellow sewists, and belt according to need.

Sewaholic / Megan Nielsen mashup

I recently posted about my first attempt at the Megan Nielsen Maternity Shirt.  There were aspects I liked, but I hit some sizing issues and the cut didn’t quite work for me.  This is my second attempt, a little hybrid experiment: half MN maternity, half Sewaholic Renfrew!

maternity tee 7

I’d been pretty spoilt by the Renfrew t-shirt – I love the way Tasia puts a garment together, and this one’s just right.  The instructions minimise stretching out the neckline during construction, and give such a simple way of setting in the sleeves.

maternity tee 5

Plus I realised my existing Sewaholic Renfrews still fit comfortably round the bust, so I figured I could use the upper bodice part, incorporating that well-constructed neckline, and blend it in to the Megan Nielsen one, keeping the nice ruching and length.

pattern mashup

I traced out an XL version of the Megan Nielsen top first, then laid my TNT size 10 Renfrew pattern over the top.  Funnily enough, the two patterns met exactly around the first side notch… confirming my feeling that the ruched maternity t-shirt has incredibly teeny tiny sizing!  Surely one pattern’s XL and another’s size 10 shouldn’t line up at the bust?!

The orange line below is what I ended up cutting, and the green is the original Maternity t-shirt outline.  You can also see that the shoulder seam of the Renfrew is much shorter, so that the sleeves sit further in (which is my preference).

pattern mashup 2

When it was all sewn up, there was still a little excess round the tummy, so I guess I only needed the XL sizing up top, and probably just a Large lower down.  I took it in at the sides, but didn’t trim the seams so I can let it out again if I need more space later on.

The colours just came together from old knit fabrics that happened to be in my stash (the yellow’s from an old hen party t-shirt), but I’m enjoying the contrast!  Doesn’t it look a little… superhero-esque?  Maybe once I take off my glasses…

maternity tee 8

Haha, Super Amy!

maternity tee 9

So my conclusions: if you’re trying out this pattern, make it BIG.  Unless you happen to be petitely miniature.  But if you’re a standard medium or above, start with the XL and work down.  Compare and contrast with your other t-shirts to get the fit and cut you like, and then blend that ruched section right in.  Sew on, super-sewist amigos!

MMM’13: What still fits

Me-Made-May is more of a challenge this year than I expected, as quite a number of my handmade clothes have lost the battle with the bump and been packed away until more streamlined times.  So the start of May was a timely investigation into what can still go the distance – click on the photos for the original garment posts!  First up, some Sewaholic Pendrells:

Check out the amazing slimmingness of those princess seams… you wouldn’t guess from these photos that there’s a five-month-baby tucked up under there, would you?  And still fitting comfortably (albeit with less ease than they used to).

Even more super-roomy, a Simplicity 2406 goes a long way:

I can see these lasting well into the third trimester (and they’re just a size 10, imagine the potential as a maternity pattern if one went up a few sizes).  In fact, there is another 2406 brewing on the sewing table which will hopefully make a MMM’13 appearance!  Along with loads more stretchy knits:

Sewaholic patterns triumph again with a snug Renfrew on the left, while on the right, I think this restyle may look even better now I’m rounder than it did back in February.  Empire-line plus a peplum = perfect maternity shape.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper MMM round-up without a pyjama appearance.  These only just work with the top button left undone, so there are a couple of new sets cut out and ready to sew.


Seven items down, 23 to go to meet my target – and we’re already over a third of the way through the month!

Here’s one I made earlier…

…and forgot to post about here.  But it’s one of the decreasing group of me-mades that still fits in my second trimester, so I feel it deserves a proper mention at last.

I’d finished it just in time to wear to Day 5 of the London Olympics last August:

Olympic Renfrew 1

Welcome London 2012

We bid for quite a few different events when the tickets were first released, and ended up with women’s water polo (don’t knock it – I first watched a match at university when my friend Anna played for Yorkshire. It’s fast-paced, exciting, pretty easy to follow, and extremely violent. No, there are no horses involved. People keep asking me that.) And we got to see Team GB play!

GBR supporter

We later lost 16-3 to Australia.

We’d probably have gone to pretty much anything though, to see the Park and soak up the atmosphere:

London 2012 fans

The fabric came from a thrifted slightly-too-big t-shirt that caught my eye in a charity shop: look, they’re actually proper little British lions!

Lion print

When I checked the label, it turned out to be by Pringle of Scotland (prestigious luxury brand dating back to 1815), so a total bargain at four quid – as the lady at the till in the charity shop pointed out; she seemed a little miffed about the whole thing.

And it was just perfect for refashioning, because it came with two layers of fabric – there was a whole other t-shirt of the solid blue colour under those lions!

Original Pringle top 3

I managed to squeeze a Renfrew out of the top layer with some creative cutting and positioning, and then had plenty of blue for the contrast banding.

Olympic Renfrew 3

It perfectly fit the bill for a subtle show of London 2012 support – a very British design from a UK firm. And blue, just like Stella McCartney’s design for Team GB.

It was a brilliant day out, and I’m so glad we got to go – it’s probably the only time in my life I’ll actually attend an Olympic event. So I bought a keyring to show off to potential future grandkids, and legged it for the last train home.

Water polo arena

Stretching, stretching…

So one of the first things I did after finding out a baby was on the way?  Look up maternity outfits on Pinterest, naturally.  I didn’t get raring on the sewing machine straight off, but after the three-month scan it seemed like time to start planning my rather different wardrobe for the rest of 2013.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest


Of course, Megan Nielsen patterns popped out and hit me in the face.  As another sewist recently said to me: “she’s rather cornered the maternity pattern market, hasn’t she?”  So I ordered the gathered t-shirt and the gathered skirt from M is for Make (and thanks Kate for sorting out blips in my order so promptly and efficiently!)

I’ll start with the t-shirt.  Helpfully, the pattern says to use your normal (pre- or early pregnancy measurements).  I confidently cut a safe medium:

Maternity top 1

I really like: the ruching down the sides, and the lovely generous length (always been a sucker for long tees).

maternity top 3

Not so keen on: the baggy width in the sleeves, and that the shoulder seam sits right out on the edge of my actual shoulders.

maternity top 2

I’m not sure that this top will go the whole nine months – you can’t really see it in these photos, but there’s already some pulling across the bust.  Fit round the tummy is great right now, but another four months of growth might just go beyond the stretch.

So for my second MN make, I cut EXTRA LARGE:

Maternity skirt 1

And a good thing too.  It does fit, but again there’s not much extra mileage in there.  I used a thick knit fabric as recommended – and it sparkles!  Perhaps I needed something stretchier… but did I mention that I cut EXTRA LARGE?!  And it’s not uncomfy, but there was a little bit of relief in peeling it off at the end of the day.  One of the things I enjoy about making my own clothes is the comfort of a really good fit, so…

Maternity skirt 2

…although I think it actually looks pretty cute and classy, I don’t love it.  This now seems very predictably obvious – because I don’t like wearing pencil skirts, full stop.  I’ve never made one: I sew big circle skirts, plenty of pleats, an A-line at a pinch.  And somehow I thought pregnancy would make me a pencil skirt fan?

Well I guess being properly pregnant stops that horror of looking accidently pregnant in a certain kind of skirt (been there, my friends, been there).  But still, I worry about my underwear line showing through, or the whole thing bunching round my empire line…

Maternity skirt 3

Nope, even with side ruching there’s just too much cling.  This skirt did serve its purpose in making me feel a little glam at the epic V&A meetup, and it might score me a day’s grace during Me-Made-May, but I don’t see a repeat make in here.

On the other hand, I think a MN Maternity t-shirt + Sewaholic Renfrew mashup might be just the ticket…

V&A Sewing Meet-up

If you read any sewing blogs at all, you must’ve heard about this event by now… look how many people were there!


I did take my camera along, but it ended up sitting in my bag all day – a) there was a professional photographer, and b) there were many other bloggers wielding clever-looking cameras with flair.  So I thought hey, this is covered! and just went with the flow…  Fortunately, I got to nose at all the photos here:


 Can you tell I don’t know how to pose with a bump yet?

I only finished my outfit on Friday night, so this is the first outing and first photo of both skirt and top.  And yes, the skirt is a Megan Nielsen pattern, as three or four sewists asked during the day (Megan Nielsen = synonymous with maternity patterns, no?).  Each time, I launched in to a recital of my fitting issues with it – thank you for your polite patience if you were on the receiving end! – but I’ll save those for another post.

Actually, the item attracting most queries was not handmade, but very topical:

Needles and thread bag

Needles and thread bag 2

Needles and thread bag pocket

At the time, I had to give that most irritating of replies: “oh, it was a present!” but I have now googled it for all you interested parties.  It’s the ‘Needle and Thread Overnight Bag’ by Disaster Designs, and available from Amazon and other online stores.  Enjoy!

I came home with some beautiful things:

Sewing meetup1

About half of which I bought in Goldhawk Road:

Sewing meetup2

and the rest came from the goody bag and epic swap!  Hurrah!

Sewing meetup3

It was lovely to meet familiar faces for the first time (slightly like meeting a celebrity: I recognise you!  And know quite a few things about you!  Cos I read your blog!  But you probably don’t know me! Is this weird yet?) and it was the first time I’ve ever said to someone: “Oh I recognised you from the back because of your dress” (Sally).  Also lovely to catch up with bloggers I’ve met before – always a pleasure Jane, Roisin, and Karen.  And of course, how fun to go pattern-spotting and admiring beautiful clothes – Shivani and Emily, your wonderful Wiksten Tovas have convinced me I must make one.  It should just about fit over the bump!

Once again, thanks to Rachel & Co for organising the day!

Round here

“Step out the front door like a ghost / Into the fog where no one notices / The contrast of white on white…”  Saying ’round here’ always triggers my favourite Counting Crows song, but those opening lines do fit today’s weather: white hail (!) against a whitish sky:

Weather 12th April

So, round here, number (1): there are quite a few works-in-progress…

Works in Progress

These are all made from old fabrics I’ve had for years, frantically stash-busting after the unprecedented step of putting all my various fabric hoards together in one place for the first time:

Fabric stash

As Mr B said when he saw it, I can’t tell if it’s better or worse than I’d expected.  But at least now it’s a known entity – though I’m bound to end up buying some new fabric at…

(2) the awesome meet-up being organised by House of Pinheiro: the V&A, handmade outfits, fabric shopping, swapping, and food.  Perfect.  And I’m so looking forward to re-meeting some fabulous bloggers.  But I’ll look a little different to last time because…

(3) Like Zoe, I have had to put aside my original sewing plans for the last few months (miniskirts, princess-seamed dresses) and look into a whole new range of patterns: maternity clothes.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest


Yes, one of the pregnancies I alluded to in my last post is mine!  I’m coming up for halfway through, and finally feel up to regularly sewing and blogging again, rather than  just lying on the sofa watching E4 re-runs.

(4) Talking of Zoe, I’m looking forward to Me-Made-May ’13  even though my pledge means I need to get on with lots of maternity sewing in the next few weeks because: ‘I endeavour to wear 30 different handmade or refashioned garments  over the course of May 2013.’  I set myself a slightly different challenge from last year, because I realise I ended up hitting the same garments pretty hard (ahem, pyjamas) to count as my ‘one item per day’.  This time round, I’ll only count each handmade item once, but there’s some flexibility as I’m not tied to a daily quota.

Also round here, (5) I’m feeling it’s time to make this blog a little more exciting, and I’m using some of that sofa-time to ponder style and navigational changes.  Please watch this space…

(6)  …and if you’ve been watching this space through Google ‘days-are-numbered’ Reader, then why not Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

See you all soon – maybe in real life on the meet -up! – happy sewing x


Births and birthdays

Sewing and making things for other people means… a big sewing gap for myself.  I’m not moaning – of course I could buy all the gifts and devote my teeny-tiny creative opportunities completely to my own wardrobe – but I do like that little buzz from giving an individual homemade present.

And as there seems to be a baby boom this year among my family and friends (six announced for 2013 so far), I’ll be making lots of small person thingummys like this: 

baby girl hat

I used this tutorial for the second time for baby number 1, realising I have no idea how big a baby’s head roughly is.  Big as my fist?  Bigger?  Hope it fits, baby Lara!

baby girl hat 1

To vary things up, I’ll be digging this pattern out and making some more of these cute-as-a-boot shoes.  Perhaps even for the sibling of the baby (now toddler) that I made these shoes for:

tiny shoes

In more advanced birthday news, Mr B turned 30 recently, and while this was not the year I finally got round to making him a shirt, I did russle up what I think is a pretty cool cake:

awesome cake 1

…with all of his favourite things

awesome cake 3

in Lego!

awesome cake 2  Happy birthday Mr B!

awesome cake 4