In Which A Bit of An Enthusiast Admits To Ignoring A Favourite Thing In Lieu of A New Favourite Thing

Tweed Grey Hollyburn

Dear River Island Favourite Favourite Grey Tweed Dirndl Skirt with the secret, tiny flocked black hearts on the inside- you were my first love.  My first skirt love, I mean.

Tweed Grey Hollyburn side

You started a passion for skirts with sweater tops and tees, skirts with big belts, skirts with cowboy boots, skirts with cute Mary Jane flats… five years of Skirt Love which you kindled.  But time passes and threads start wearing thin.  It’s not that I wanted to replace you- I just wanted to preserve you, you see.

Tweed Grey Hollyburn pocket & tab closeup

Which is why Hand Made Favourite Grey Tweed Hollyburn Skirt appeared on the scene and you were, sadly, relegated to the drawer.   I do have a guilty start when I see you lurking under a pile of pajama bottoms.  But you see, Grey Tweed Hollyburn is new and handmade and has lovely crisp pockets and cute vintage buttons on the tabs… well, you know how it goes.

Tweed Grey Hollyburn

It’ll need washing before too long and then you’ll see the light of day again.

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In Which A Bit of an Enthusiast Engages in Social Sewing

Hello chickens!  It’s Monday but here in the UK we’re lucky to have a holiday, hurrah!  So we’re celebrating with friends, a roast din din and pie.  The start of the weekend was pretty good too- my sister in law and I cooked up a plan to get her new-but-mostly-untried sewing machine in action by making a beginners’ skirt pattern by her, for her, with guidance from yours truly.  I was so proud of her!  She went to the fabric shop and got everything she needed after a flurry of messages about what to get, how to ask etc.  Which made me all the more aware of how handy Tilly’s tips in her book about going into fabric joints are!  That lovely book may well be winging its way to Anna at some point…

Well, my devious plan to get her interested in garment sewing seems to be a success!  A full day of measuring, cutting, marking, sewing, pressing, pressing and more pressing (got to get those important details in, right?) and we finally finished late but happy.  The smiles wreathing her face as we neared the finish line were truly wonderful.  Such a great feeling helping others learn a skill!  I found it really interesting seeing how confidently she was machining by the end and- and!- I received a message and piccy the following day: “Hem is complete and pressed (obviously ;0)), thank you soooo much, I had such a great day!”.  Well now!  The pressing message clearly got through hahaha.  Do we have a convert???

Here’s my muslin.  Not terribly interesting but it was a good exercise to practice before I trialled it on someone else!

Sewaholic Hollyburn Muslin

The pattern: the Sewaholic Hollyburn skirt (my muslin)

Here we are with smiles and the finished article (without hem quite yet although it has acquired one since).  And POCKETS!

Finished Hollyburn Skirt


You still with me?   Because last weekend I did the opposite- I was the student at a lovely class I was so very lucky to receive from my mumma as a gift.  That lady is an enabler!!  Well, she bought me a class with the legendary Chinelo (from Sewing Bee).  It was the Maxi Dress free cutting class in Canning Town- and I loved it!  I must say I do love meeting groups of people so this is my sort of thing but add into that some sewing and I was in seventh heaven.

I adored the experience of learning a bit of free cutting- this is a technique where you use measurements and make the garment in your head into reality without the use of a pattern.  No draping involved, no paper, just your bod, your tape measure, scissors, chalk, iron and machine.  It was really freeing not needing all the paraphenalia that we associate with a sewing hobby.  This is simple stuff- you need to learn it for it to become simple- but I really enjoyed it.

Maybe one day I’ll find a course and learn the ins and outs properly as I would put this class in the category of taster sesh- I replicated the bodice based on my notes and memory but I wouldn’t be able to just throw my scissors at fabric and make some of the awesome creations Chinelo manages quite yet!  She really is smart- I loved the whole experience.  Thank you to Chinelo and the other lovely participants I met- please ladies start some micro blogging so we can keep in touch hehe!   I’m still working on mine- I decided to line the bodice and add some straps and am still working on it around several other projects (but of course!).


Free Cutting with Chinelo Bally


Have you been on any sewing courses you really loved?  Do tell- I may be catching the bug!


In Which A Bit of an Enthusiast Ticks One Project Off

McCalls 6706 in Shell Print Cotton

Me and a sheep. Hanging out (as you do).

Well folks, this certainly has been a decent Summer so far for floaty skirts and whatnot.  I’m very much enjoying wearing my latest.  Want in on the surprise?  It’s the exact same skirt as the previous two.  I know, I know.  But I’m consolidating my tekkers, ‘k?

McCalls 6706 Hi Lo Shell Print Cotton 2

May I take you back in time?  See, this skirt has its very own sweet memory association.  Let me expand:

It was a rainy December day (this is London, y’know), and I was meeting other sewing people IN THE REAL WORLD.  Scary!  Actually, it wasn’t because they were blimmin’ lovely and very welcoming.  And as we swished our way (I always imagine stitchers swish everywhere, like Eliza Doolittle post-transformation, or Gigi gliding, elegantly, into chairs.  Don’t ask me why:  I just do) through the V&A museum we happened upon a glorious, green, bias-cut 30’s affair.  It was love at first sight for, I’m guessing, all of us as we oohed and ahhed over the delectable dress.   It was A Moment.

McCalls 6706 Hi Lo Shell Print Cotton 3


I love this fabric- don’t you?  Those lovely  shells? make me think of Thirties prints and patterns and for that reason every time I see this skirt it reminds me of that lovely moment with those lovely first stitchers I met.

McCalls 6706 Hi Lo Shell Print Cotton 4

My photographer decided to make things action-based. I’m such a goof.


Can I say I’m very much Still Loving the hi-lo hem.  Or is it a dipped hem?  Or is that something else altogether?  Either way, it’s fun to wear and pretty nice to swish about in!


McCalls 6706 Hi Lo Button Detail

Fabulous button detail: I was so, so pleased when I found this in Grandma’s tin of old, old buttons!



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In which a bit of an enthusiast realises it was All Just A Dream

I’m float-float-floating in a happy haze of me-made in the grand hallways of the marbled and venerable Victoria and Albert Museum.  Cool air wafts my new hi-lo hem dreamily about as the gentle murmur of seamstress’ voices puncture the atmosphere.  Half-giddy, I realise the gentle murmur is turning to an angry buzzing.  Burning eyes, gorgeous outfits are storming my direction and all of a sudden my carefully ironed, carefully planned outfit is being torn to fluttering shreds decorating the shining floor.  The shame!  How dare I turn up to an auspicious sewing bloggers’ event in my several-times remade, not-quite-fitting, poorly-positioned-pleats skirt?


I’m awake.  It was a pre-big-event anxiety dream and my outfit rests unwittingly in the wardrobe.  Angry stitchers?  No!  They’re not real.  They never arrive at the gathering.  But I do, in my (slightly held together with a safety pin- yes indeed) skirt.  And the other NYLon2014 attendees are friendly and chatty and the bright eyes are full of joy at watching and waiting and chatting and drinking and shopping with friends who Get It.  They get the nerdy detailing and the love of touching fabric and the prints and the colours and yes:  the gorgeous outfits fittingly embellish the venerable museum halls.  The Cinderella’s sisters dream is just that.  But these ladies are real.  And fun!  And fabulous- of course.

Side view of Nautical hi-lo skirt


My hi-lo hem goes down pretty well- “is that a Flora skirt?” begs the question time and again- the answer is: “no; but it is inspired by it!”.  Before the Flora I’m not convinced I’d even seen a hi-lo hem, much less thought I’d consider wearing one.  But hey- it’s a short, pretty skirt with a floaty back hem and no flashing all inone joyous package.  That skirt style is certainly going to be making further appearances in this wardrobe.  Now all I need to do is be brave enough to cut into the fancy fabric I bought for it.  In the meantime I’ve made another with straight hem using a wax print-esque polycotton I bought as a souvenir from the Goldhawk road on the big day.



This skirt is the McCalls 6706.  It has deep pleats with several options for banding, the hi-lo hem and a plain skirt.  It also comes with a petticoat pattern.

Fabric and notions: Cheap nautical cotton from Minerva; cheap polycotton from a Goldhawk Road shop.  Metal zip,2 hooks and eyes.  Safety pin to remind me of my folly.

Nautical Hi-lo skirt front: swish factor

Some swishing occurred during this shoot

Likes:  The hi- lo hem- I LOVE it!

The numerous options.

The pleats are fab.  And it’s pretty easy make (unless you have my illogical brain).

NYLon2014 Pleat Skirt

Issues:  The fitting- this is my rookie-ness showing up.  I forgot that my size is a 10 in this pattern apart from my waist which their chart states is a 16 (straight up-and-down figure alert).  So of course I cut a straight 10, forgot to mark appropriately and made a too-small waistband.  I lied to myself about my waist size but as many experienced stitchers will tell you: the numbers do not lie!  I hope this is a lesson learned.  Anyway, much annoyance later and I ended up with a too-big skirt.  Round two was somewhat quicker and easier but still too big- hey, some people learn quickly.  I do not number among them.  But I sure love this pattern!

NYLon2014 Pleat Skirt: side view



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