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Socially Distant Cropped Linen Trousers

socially distanced hand embroidered message cropped linen trousers

Lock down sewing with a topical message “if you can read this you are too close!” hand embroidered down the leg in glow in the dark thread. The Linen is our perennially popular washed Damiel linen which has a heavy but drapey handle and works brilliantly for this style trouser. The pattern is self drafted from a basic straight leg long trouser pattern – Bess added fabric to the side seams and then darted the legs in at the bottom and on the knee. They are super comfy to wear and work on both hot and cold days (ie any British Summer day).

socially distanced hand embroidered message cropped linen trousers
socially distanced hand embroidered message cropped linen trousers “if you can read this you are too close!”
socially distanced hand embroidered message cropped linen trousers
socially distanced hand embroidered message cropped linen trousers
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Red Viscose Printed Ogden Cami

red viscose printed ogden cami by True Bias

Bess loves how the Ogden Cami (by True Bias) doesn’t slip off her shoulders like most camisoles do – that’s some clever drafting. As a c-cup she just about gets away without doing a dart in it so long as the fabric is super light and drapey (like this viscose lawn is). It is also great how you can make a useful versatile top out of a tiny bit of fabric!

Whilst you should always wash fabric on the lowest temperature possible to preserve the life of it Bess pre-washes her viscose on 40˚C to get rid of any shrinking (something viscose is very good at doing!)

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Embroidered Red Selvedge Denim Mini Skirt

embroidered red selvedge denim mini skirt

Bess made this red selvedge denim mini skirt to replace the one she had lived in since 2008. Someone had the audacity to suggest Bess shouldn’t wear mini skirts after 40 at which point she scoffed.

red selvedge denim mini skirt

It is a near miracle that the skirt was ever completed due to Bess trying out a new pattern that did not remotely fit (why oh why do we not make a toile first?), and red selvedge denim, as glorious as it is, is not the round peg to force into a square hole.

Anyway, several bodges later the skirt was born. The treated to an abundance of purchased embroidery patches and some hand embroidered lettering.

Ta daaaaa!

red selvedge denim mini skirt wirth rainbow patches (back view)

She then attacked the denim with several sheets of sandpaper to prematurely age it in a bid to make it like her old one. Not very eco but the pain of breaking in raw denim was too much. It truly is fab denim that wears beautifully (naturally and with sandpaper!)

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Kelly Anorak Jacket with Quilted Silk Lining and Beaded Epaulettes

kelly anorak by closet case patterns made using quilted silk lining, grey herringbone cotton and beaded epaulettes
kelly anorak by closet case patterns made using quilted silk lining, grey herringbone cotton and beaded epaulettes

Bess wanted a lightweight but warm jacket so used grey herringbone cotton poly and elastane -it’s a medium weight, the sort that would make lightweight chino type trousers, then she quilted silk crepe de chine (in the brightest coral colour possible) to wool wadding. The results are a super snuggly jacket that feels like you are putting on a duvet (if you ever wondered what the definition of hygge is, this jacket is it)

kelly anorak by closet case patterns made using quilted silk lining (shown inside out)
inside out: showing silk crepe de chine lining quilted to wool wadding

Whilst the outer fabric is not waterproof it is a tight enough weave to not get wet through in a brief shower.

The pattern is the Kelly Anorak by Closet Case Patterns, the instructions and drafting is simply brilliant. Bess shortened it and hacked the collar and hood pieces to enable both (the hood folds away into the collar)

kelly anorak collar and hood hack with fold away hood
the hood folds away into the collar and is retained with small buttons
kelly anorak by closet case patterns made using quilted silk lining, grey herringbone cotton and beaded epaulettes (back view)
back view. Turquoise micro piping was used to highlight the back sleeve seam
pocket hell
By far the most time was spent on the zipped pockets as Bess was making it up as she went along and put herself (and the pocket) inside a mobius strip of never ending lost-ness
beaded arrow aepaulettes
Bess hand beaded the epaulettes with an assortment of glass beads on Aida embroidery fabric and backed the finished arrows on to thick wool felt.
kelly anorak by closet case patterns made using quilted silk lining, grey herringbone cotton and beaded epaulettes
All finished!
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Black and White Mary Quant Dress with Daisy Pocket

mary quant black and white dress with daisy shaped pocket

Bess downloaded the free pattern from Alice and Co at the V&A Museum in a flash and made up this Mary Quant dress with little to no alterations (unheard of for her- she nearly died of shock), the pocket took the longest and this was the second go as the first one looked like a fried egg! She used bondaweb to applique the daisy and slowed down her normal sewing speed in the hope she could sew accurately (more or less!). The black is a fabulous piqué weave viscose (very similar to a viscose twill) and the collar and daisy is a lightweight linen (probably not the ideal fabric as it frays like the devil but the colours were right and it more-or-less worked so don’t knock it!

mary quant dress collar detail
mary quant dress with daisy pocket (detail)
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Supersoft Dogtooth Tweed Coat

supersoft wool tweed dogtooth check coat with epaulettes and gimp trim

Bess made this black and white tweed up into a coat using a tried and tested Claire Shaeffer Vogue pattern 7467 (now discontinued) which is a jacket pattern so there were a fair few alterations to do. The tweed is very soft and lightweight (it feels like cashmere) so Bess blocked it onto silk crepeline organza to stabilise it. The lining is a mix of a floral print viscose crepe (used at the upper back and pockets), and then a cupro and silk blend heavy habotai for the rest. She had great fun choosing the buttons and loves the little sparkly one on the inside, and hand sewed the gimp braid all the way round on each and every loop (that’s dedication, that is).

This coat was made on a weekend retreat, the side effect of intensive sewing like that is the brain does have a habit of disengaging from time to time, hence how the button holes on one of the sleeve vents are going sideways (DOH!). After an initial ohmygodwhatamigoingtodo moment Bess decided to just go with them and now rather likes their asymmetry.

It is a glorious coat to wear, light yet warm and often gets comments. Bess admits now that it was worth the hard work!

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Black Stretch Wool Trousers with Stripe Braid Side Seams

Black wide leg wool trousers with striped braid

Bess was covetting those Gucci wide leg trousers spotted on the interweb for AGES and then eventually gave in and made herself some. Never mind the fact the Gucci ones would never have fitted these have saved her a small fortune (which she can spend on more fabric). The pattern is Burda 6613, the wool is a stretch worsted (97% Wool 3% Elastane) and the trim is H0511.

green and red stripe polyester silky webbing

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Black and White Pinstripe Hoody

Black Pinstripe double wool jersey hoody

Bess made this hoody from an old Burda pattern on the day before going off to a festival and realising she had nothing warm for the evenings. Being somewhat busy she got up a bit early and made it before breakfast – even though it was a pattern she hadn’t used before (needed to be cut out)/there were patch pockets that needed to go on evenly/stripes to match/zip to be inserted. We would like to say it was Bess’s skillz as a dressmaker but most of the credit needs to go to this lovely double wool jersey that behaved soooo nicely.

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Eye Print Cotton Poplin Sleeveless Shirt

evil eye print cotton poplin

Bess made up this sleeveless shirt using a fabulous eye print poplin cotton. The pattern is taken and amended from an old White Stuff shirt, the buttons are wiggly eye buttons but how long they will last is debatable as she keeps ironing over them!

As the poplin is very stable and Bess wanted the shirt as light as possible no interfacing was used apart from down the front placket so the button holes would be stabilised.

Whilst Bess lined up the front and back when cutting out no attempt was made to match the pattern. It actually does match where the yoke meets the back piece but that was an accident.


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White Broderie Anglaise Dress

White Broderie Anglaise dress from Burda magazine 06/2018

Bess nearly didn’t make this white cotton broderie anglaise dress because she was worried about cursing the summer but in the end decided 2018 sunshine was a dead-cert. Yayyy for proper summers! The pattern came out of the June 2018 Burda magazine, it’s supposed to have wing type things over the armholes but Bess decided to not do them <s>because she couldn’t understand the instructions</s> because she decided they were overkill.

The dress is lined in white cotton lawn with a splash of red in the piping around the neck. Bess’s favourite bit is the POCKETS 😊

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Rainbow Print Viscose T-Shirt

rainbow stripe print viscose jersey t-shirt

Bess couldn’t resist this dichroic glass mirror in Amsterdam for a selfie of her rainbow print viscose T-Shirt (pattern drafted from a fallen apart Great Plains linen T-Shirt). The neck is bound with the same jersey and a stay tape is inserted on the shoulder seam to keep it stable.

Photobomb of Kitcat was unavoidable.

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Green Linen Coat with Grosgrain Trim

washed heavy linen green coat

Bess made this heavy washed green linen coat on a weekend retreat by staying up practically all night for two nights and not skiving at all. She had even come prepared with her two grosgrain trims sewn to each other already and the pattern fully adjusted to fit and toile tweaked.

The linen had been pre-washed 5 times to eliminate excess dye that could leach onto the cotton grosgrain, and the dry clean only Liberty crepe de chine silk lining is also pre-washed (it’s okay).

There are no shoulder pads but a bit of semi-tailored interfacing around the chest area is used to improve the structure (along with cuffs, facings and pockets), all the trimmings were hand sewn so as not to change the drape.

washed heavy linen green coat washed heavy linen green coat washed heavy linen green coat washed heavy linen green coat washed heavy linen green coat


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Digital Print Viscose Jersey Wrap T-Shirt

Digital print viscose jersey wrap t-shirt

Jane busy sampling wearing her digital print viscose jersey mock wrap t-shirt made by Bess. The Pattern is Kay Unger for Vogue V1519 which has a cap sleeve, Bess used the sleeve off another top (that just so conveniently fitted) so as to have a longer one.

As it was quite a complicated design and tricky to see the sizing so Bess made a toile first in cheaper jersey. The wrap part is lined in viscose jersey and Bess used turquoise stretch piping on the neck to keep the tension and shape. There were lots of pleats and tucks that were carefully marked, and whilst Bess truly did intend to follow the instructions she forgot after a while, but it came out okay.  Hoorah!

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Pink Wool Tweed Casual Jacket

pink tweed coat on top of the devon cliff

Bess on top of the South Devon Cliffs wearing her fabulous pink tweed jacket that was made by Jane a couple of Birthday’s ago and still going strong.

The lining is chartreuse satin lining on the sleeves and multicolour chevron printed cotton (quilting weight) for the body. The collar and facings are red jumbo corduroy because Bess didn’t want the tweed against her skin.

Pink Wool tweed jacket with red jumbo cord facings and collar

The design is an old burda fur jacket pattern -somewhat altered! Fur coat patterns are dead easy because they tend to have very boxy simple cuts.

Pink denim jacket with odd buttons
Pink denim jacket with odd buttons

This is basically a remake of a pink denim jacket Bess made earlier – but suitable for the winter. Even the buttons are the same.


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Blue Wool Challis A-Line Skirt with Scattered Artificial Petals

wool challis skirt with artificial petal embellishment

Bess made this skirt on a bit of a whim – the wool challis had been in her stash for some time (if you have ever worn wool challis you will understand why she stashes it). The petals mysteriously turned up in her handbag the morning after a somewhat riotous wedding and have been hoarded ever since. And so the skirt was born, with no idea if A) the wool was washable and B) the petals would leak colour if it was washed.

The skirt was made in an evening, the a-line pattern is an ancient Burda start pattern (3198) that has long since discontinued although Burda 8237 is pretty similar (if you get rid of the waistband), or if you lengthen 6682 (both super easy alterations). The skirt is lined in Venezia and lightweight knit interfacing was used on the facing. Bess did the thing she always tells her customers not to do- she cut the lining the same size as the skirt and it ended up pulling and being too small. The wool challis has quite a lot of give in it, the lining doesn’t so you should always cut the lining a fraction bigger to allow for the ease, so the lining had to be chopped out and raised to allow the room. It’s a little short but if she doesn’t tell anyone they will never know 😉

Finally she attached the petals by first arranging them by eye with pins and then sewing a single line of stitching down the middle of each petal.

wool challis skirt with artificial petal embellishment
This photo was taken after it had been washed and worn a few times so Bess got away with her washing machine roulette this time. Which is lucky because she LOVES this skirt!


wool challis skirt with artificial petal embellishment
Sewing the artificial petals on with the trusty Bernina sewing machine (and a lot of pins)

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Cat Lady Print Vinyl Rucksack

cat lady printed vinyl rucksack

Bess made this rucksack for her niece, Miaow using an existing bag as a rough pattern. She blocked the vinyl onto a lilac showerproof fabric before constructing the bag – as the bag has all the seams on the outside this meant it was instantly lined -yay! The seams were bound in red ottoman bias binding and reflective grey bias binding, waterproof zips were used for the openings and nylon strapping for the straps (made more comfortable with pads of vinyl). Don’t look too closely- it was made in a rush and without a proper pattern somewhat bodged!

cat lady printed vinyl rucksack

cat lady printed vinyl rucksack

cat lady printed vinyl rucksack

cat lady printed vinyl rucksack

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Pink Tulle Tutus with Feathers and Sequins

Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers

Bess made these two tutus for her nieces Kitcat and Miaow with a loose brief of Nutcracker in mind. There are a gazillion layers of tulle gathered and pleated and sewn onto a silk dupion elasticated waistband and embellished with feathers and sequins. Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers at Chatsworth House

3 colours of tulle were used to get a greater depth to the skirts. A short layer of creamy beige, and second longer layer of sugar pink and a top (longest) layer of very pale pink.

Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers

Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathersBess doesn’t really do ‘fluff’ but had a lot of fun making these. Her kitchen was well and truly tullified.

Pale pink tulle ballerina tutus with feathers

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Red White and Blue Linton Tweed Coat

red white and blue Linton Tweed Coat

Red Blue and White check Linton Tweed made up in Burda 7041 (sadly discontinued but there are similar). It is quilted in 2″ lines to silk organza for stability and then lined in spotty silk satin. There is black satin piping round the collar and down the front and a heavy chain fixed to the inside hem to help the coat drape (it is particularly heavy so creates a real swing). It fastens edge to edge with a rouleau loops and metal half round buttons.

Bess finished making this coat nearly a year from starting due to some ‘issues’ so it’s a miracle it was ever finished as Bess does not do ‘issues’. Bess makes coats in a day, maybe over 3 days if there are complicated bits to do and she has other things going on. The problem with UFOs (unfinished objects) is once it goes in the pile it rarely escapes. To rectify this Bess hung it on the door and was not allowed to remove it – even though this meant the door couldn’t be closed. The problem that caused such a delay is No1. she used a cheaper silk organza that was heavier than normal which made it substantially heavier than she intended (unfixable). The 2nd thing was she cut the lining too short at the centre back (rectified by piecing in a bit of braid so it didn’t pull up the coat). 3rd, and rather majorly despite her checks matching perfectly at every seam when she tried to hem it it was going up in a spiral and being one check off at the front (rectified by hemming it straight and never looking at the hem thereafter).


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Light Blue Broderie Anglaise Panelled Dress

Bess wearing her super summery light blue broderie anglaise cotton dress at the Pimm’s stall at the village fête. The dress is her same Jaeger dress pattern with the neck cut lower and lined in ivory cotton lawn. The neck is piped with red satin piping (made with a super lightweight bias binding and piping cord) and bias binding around the armholes.

Just to be extra fancy Bess used french seams on the lining (this has practical reasons as well as showing off -it is stronger and everything looks neater), and a heavy repp bias binding around the hem to give it a little structure. Despite the snug fit and no lycra Bess can still wiggle in without a zip.

Neon shoes are an optional extra 😉



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Purple Stretch Cotton Piqué Panelled Shift Dress

Bess was looking at this purple piqué for well over a year before she decided she was able to wear purple, and is rather loving the extra colour in her wardrobe. The pattern is a long tried and tested pattern she took from a Jaeger dress (seen here in many guises). This time it is unlined and piped in green satin around the neck and has green bias binding inside the hem (just in case anyone should look inside.

Despite the close fit no zip is necessary – she just wiggles in.


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Aqua and Black Frigate Bird Dress

Bess made this super fine linen dress with black bird print for her holiday in Tobago, it’s made using her basic block with just the shaping from bust darts and a centre back seam. Nicknamed the frigate bird dress as the print is similar to the ubiquitous birds of the Caribbean.

It is unlined and the neck is bound with super lightweight satin bias binding.



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Black Guipure Lace Dress with Cream Silk Lining

Bess wearing black circles lace dress holding a glass of bubbly

Bess enjoying a glass of bubbly wearing her black guipure lace dress which was lined in cream silk rep suiting. The pattern is her very basic dress block that only has bust darts and a centre back seam for shape. It’s tricky to tell in this photo but the lining is 3″ shorter leaving the scalloped edge unlined. Also unseen is the perfectly matched centre back seam (You’ll have to trust me on this one).

The lining and the lace are made up separately and joined at the neck with a vibrant turquoise satin bias binding. There’s no zip- it just chucks over the head.


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Alphabet Print Viscose and Elastane Jersey

alphabet print viscose jersey

Jessie wearing black and multicolour alphabet print viscose and elastane jersey T-Shirt made by Bess for her Christmas Present (has been worn to death since!). The pattern was taken from a favourite Jaeger Breton T-Shirt so it was designed for heavier interlock type jersey but works very well in this slinky viscose jersey. The square neck is interfaced with extra-light iron on interfacing H0019 and the back neck and shoulder seam has a stabilising tape sewn in so they do not stretch out of shape.

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Feather Trimmed Red Guipure Lace Coat (squawking obligatory)

Red guipure lace coat with feather trim

Bess in her not-very-over-the-top coat at all made using red guipure lace and 6″ feather trim.

The coat was prepared ever so slowly making sure the spots matched and everything would line up properly and then it was izzywhizzied together on the overlocker in about 3 minutes.

Then the feather trim was hand sewn on (Bess’s fingers are still calloused from the needle – that trim has got sticky stuff inside the satin binding (that stop the feathers falling out), it’s not nice to sew!

Then the feather trim was un-picked and sewn on all over again not so tight in an effort to make it hang straight in the middle. It’s almost there, Bess weighed up further hand sewing and the possibility of losing her fingers with her OCD of straight edges and the fingers won.

Then the front edge and neck were bound in fold-over petersham binding which magically saved the jacket from being a bit ‘crafty’ (in the derogatory way) and Bess wore it to her baby step-sister’s wedding.

Also seen: bag made from offcuts of leather and a London bus e-plate. As you do.

red circle design guipure lace
red circle design guipure lace

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Hand Embroidered and Painted Wool Tweed Skirt

hand embroidered children's drawings onto wool tweed skirt

Bess used her 5 and 8 year old niece’s fabulous drawings as inspiration for the embellishment on this wool tweed A-Line skirt. First she used white fabric paint and then embroidered using a heavy thread and added beads and sequins. It was all done by hand as the tweed is quite a loose weave and she was concerned machine embroidery would make it too stiff (certainly the kind of embroidery Bess has the patience for!).

It is lined in Venezia lining – turned on the lining with no waistband and bound with an ottoman (heavy) bias binding. Strips of Iron on interfacing tape were used to reinforce the back of the areas where the belt loops go. The concealed zip was moved from the back seam to the side so the back could be cut on the fold also. You rarely get any shaping on the back seam so if you have enough fabric to do this (it invariably takes extra on an a-line skirt) you can without brainache.

Bess is very fickle but this is her absolute favourite skirt at the moment.

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
house with roof blowing off

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
house flower

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
girl with yellow hair

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
star flower

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
Elsa from frozen with her high heels and plaited hair

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
Pussy Cat

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
house without a door

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
apple tree

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
hem (Hong Kong finish)

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
Belt detail. Don’t look too close at the bias stitching.

hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
wiggly worm


hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
hand embroidered children’s drawings onto wool tweed skirt



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Cream Sequinned Linton Tweed Coat

Cream Linton Tweed Coat

Bess went to Vegas to see her Sister get married (Johnny Cash came back from the dead to marry her). Of course she needed a new coat but Vegas being Vegas sequins were in order, albeit subtle and rather stylish ones woven into a fabulous Linton Tweed.

The tweed was quilted onto silk organza to give it a bit of stability (machine quilted in vertical lines with silk thread), it was lined in silk crepe de chine, trimmed with a cotton decorative braid, fastened with corset hooks and weighted at the hem with chain.

It has since been the go-to coat for weddings/birthday parties and posh dinners out.

You can find lots of cardigan jacket tweeds HERE

cardigan jacket tweed from Linton made up into coat
cardigan jacket tweed from Linton made up into coat

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Digitally Printed Balloon Jersey Panelled Dress

balloon digital print jersey panelled dress

Bess wearing her digitally printed cotton jersey dress made using her (much repeated) panelled dress pattern-this normally has waist seams but she omitted them so as not to cut up the balloons too much. As the pattern is normally used on woven fabrics she also pinned out the little bust darts as they were unnecessary in this stretchy fabric.

This jersey is quite a heavy cotton jersey with a high percentage of elastane (6%) so it keeps its shape well and doesn’t need lining. Rather than meddling with facings (which never lie terribly well in such a stretchy jersey) Bess used jersey binding around the neck and arm holes.

All the seams were sewn in a jiffy with the overlocker, the hems and bindings were done on the machine (because it’s quicker to zigzag than drag out the flat locker).

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Embroidered and Embellished Cotton Piqué Coat

daisies and sequined grass embellished cotton piqué coat

Bess made this turquoise cotton piqué coat for a wedding, wanting something very plain that would go with all her dresses. All the best laid plans and all that – Bess HATED it plain (felt like a doctor’s coat), so cut up some daisy trim and sewed them all over, and couched some yellow vintage strung sequins and green jute string as grass. Bess is not ruling out the possibility that there won’t be more flowers and insects added at a later date.

daisy trim embellished piqué cotton with sequins and jute string
daisy trim embellished piqué cotton with sequins and jute string

The Peter Pan collar is accented with red satin (ready made) piping and the same piping is used between the printed cotton lawn lining and the front facings. The sleeves are lined in red Venezia as they are fairly slim and need to slip.

The pattern is a Vintage burda pattern no. 7041, it makes up beautifully with hardly any alterations.

floral cotton lawn used as lining
floral cotton lawn used as lining


Peter Pan collar on turquoise piqué embellished coat
Peter Pan collar on turquoise piqué embellished coat

Finally the buttons were added, these buttons were the originals intended for the plain jacket but Bess was determined to use them, whether they go or not. (I think she gets away with it – just).

Turquoise diamanté and oxidised metal asian inspired button
Turquoise diamanté and oxidised metal asian inspired button

She loves them. Every girl needs a bit of bling.

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Hand Painted Spots on Irish Linen Skirt

hand painted spotty Irish linen skirt

Not content with the £33mt fabulous blue Irish shirting weight Linen, Bess (with clearly too much time on her hands) hand painted spots all over it before making up this much loved A-line skirt.

hand painted Irish Linen
hand painted Irish Linen

hand painting spots onto Irish Linen
hand painting spots onto Irish Linen (Wine is obligatory for this task)

There are belt loops sewn around the top and a length of picot edge petersham ribbon added as a belt.

picot edge petersham ribbon belt on Irish Linen skirt
picot edge petersham ribbon belt on Irish Linen skirt

The skirt is lined (Hong Kong style) with Cotton lawn and fastened with an invisible zip on the side.

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Chinelo witchcraftery Dress

reversible denim and printed viscose dress

Bess went on a course down the road at Social Fabric with Chinelo from the Sewing Bee. Despite being utterly star struck she made this dress using Chinelo’s amazing free cutting method. It’s witchcraft, I tell you. No patterns, no dummy… not much table space, not even that much measuring, and hey presto, a few hours later we have a dress! Bess being Bess made it less fitted than it is supposed to be and reversible.

Fabrics used: Black and white printed viscose twill.

Reverse: Lightweight washed denim.

Other notions: Bias tape.


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Linen T-Shirt with Wide Leg Trousers

White linen jersey and black heavy viscose

Bess wearing a white linen jersey raglan sleeved t-shirt with ‘modesty’ panel, and black viscose pique wide leg trousers.

Bess has a bit of a linen jersey obsession, this is the fourth (at least) she made of these tops in as many weeks. This was lined in a bandeau panel with a very stable white cotton jersey, the same jersey was used to bind the neck.

The trousers were made from a stash of Viscose, a slightly piqué weave cloth that drapes beautifully but has a lot of ‘substance’. There’s a fly and button closure and then ribbons that tie to the side.

Both patterns are fairly unrecognisable from their origins, but the trousers were Burda 8087 and the top is Burda 6990

You can find other linen jerseys HERE, the viscose trousering is kind of unique, we will buy more if we ever see it, but you will get a similar drape with Worsted Wool suitings


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Pink Denim Jacket

Pink denim jacket with odd buttons

Pink Denim #4993 jacket with odd buttons and superhero printed quilting weight cotton lining made by Bess.

Bess was a bit concerned about the level of ‘pink’ in this denim so chose to tone it down (her words) with a non-girly lining and a mixture of buttons in the hope that it makes it more versatile (she works on the basis that ONE of those buttons will match a colour in her outfit.

The pattern is an ancient Burda fur coat pattern -somewhat altered !

pink denim jacket with super hero printed lining
pink denim jacket with super hero printed lining

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Car print three quarter sleeve T-shirt

car printed jersey T-Shirt

Car print raglan sleeve T-shirt made by Bess for Lulu.

Fabric: 4983 Cotton jersey with 8% Elastane

Adjusted from Burda pattern 6990

Because the fabric is soooooo wide Bess managed to not only get this top but also a knee length a-line skirt for Lulu, and a little tiny skirt for her daughter, Mia-moo, all out of 1.4mts.

Altogether now, Awwwwwwwwwww!

Mia-moo wearing car-print jersey mini skirt made out of a remnant
Mia-moo wearing car-print jersey mini skirt made out of a remnant

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Pussycat sweatshirt with glow in the dark pussycat eyes

red sweatshirt with pussy cat eyes

Bess wearing her pussycat sweatshirt made using red brushed back cotton sweatshirting and appliqued glow in the dark cotton eyes with remnants of jersey for the whiskers and nose.

Bess might have a bit of a pussycat (particularly with glowey eyes) obsession at the moment. (Inspired by a sleeveless top bought from Uniqlo earlier in the year designed by Lulu Guiness).

Get your glow in the dark fabric HERE


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Glow in the dark pussycat eyes applique denim dresses

denuim dresses with embroidered pussy cat faces and glow in the dark eyes

Denim dresses (Butterick B5876) made using medium weight denim with appliqued glow in the dark eyes (LOVE LOVE LOVE this glow in the dark fabric). Made by Bess for her 4 and 6 year old nieces.

Used bondaweb to fix the appliques (then machined round with a small stitch). The skirt is lined and faced with a poly spotty satin.

The pattern was supposed to have patch pockets (view C) but Bess put them in the dropped waist seam instead. (didn’t want packets distracting from the pussycat).

Sooooooooo CUTE.

Get your glow in the dark fabric HERE and denim HERE

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Cobalt blue stretch crepe dress with wiggly eyes

stretch crepe dress with wiggly eyes

Cobalt blue stretch crepe dress with wiggly eyes made by Bess.

Confession: Dress was made the day before going to a swanky wedding (when realisation struck that there was NOTHING to wear), it was much too big but rather than taking it in Bess just sewed a couple of wiggly eye buttons on the back and graunched it in with petersham ribbon. Job done!

Not quite sure what Pall Mall really thought about wiggly eye embellishments but….

Have a look at stretch crepe HERE

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Chevron knit long cardigan

Missoni knit long cardigan

Long cardigan made with Italian Designer chevron cotton viscose and silk knit, made by Bess.

This was supposed to be a uber-simple cardigan with no darts or back seam or anything, but as is the way with Italian Designer knits it was cut way too big so ended up needing a centre back seam and princess seams.
It looks nicer with those seams. That’s her story and she’s sticking to it.

Find Italian Designer knits Here


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Amy Butler Print Long Skirt with Twisted Side Seams

Amy Butler Chinese lanterns printed cotton DKNY A-Line long skirt

Bess doing I-don’t-know-quite-what wearing her Amy Butler Chinese lantern skirt (as seen on the Great British Sewing Bee), or onion skirt as her husband calls it. The pattern is a Donna Karan for Vogue but has been (infuriatingly) discontinued. It’s great; the side seams are twisted so at the hips the back wraps around to the front and at the hem the front wraps around the back. The yoke is cut in one piece which made fitting a bit of a nightmare (no side seams to take in), but for a pattern like this you get a great effect on the back where the grain is taken off to near bias. Bess piped the side seams to make them a feature and gave the skirt an extra-deep hem so the skirt had a bit of weight to it; you should be careful what you make out of these ‘quilting cottons’ as they don’t drape terribly well, but they are an excellent choice for garments such as this.

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Linen Jersey Camisole and Spotty Linen A-Line Skirt

Linen Jersey Camisole and spotty print linen A-line skirt

Bess on top of the world wearing linen jersey camisole and red and white spotty linen skirt. The camisole pattern was made by drawing round an existing vest. The front and the back are the same which makes it super easy to construct (no markings!), Soft elastic binding was used for the straps, Bess made a few of these for her holiday and got the making time down to 20 minutes. The skirt was made a few years ago (fabric long since sold out 🙁 ), due to the linen being so fine Bess lined it with white ‘Riviera’ lawn. Double belt loops were attached to hold a decorative saddle stitch grosgrain belt. She’s had a lot of use out of this skirt.

You can find lots of Linens HERE

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Trellis Print Lawn Sleeveless Shirt

printed cotton lawn sleeveless shirt

Bess wearing her much-loved cotton lawn trellis print shirt. Lawn is a brilliant weave to wear in the heat as it is so fine, yet still nice to sew with. The pattern was copied from a worn-out White Stuff shirt (now out of production), The bust darts are really tucks coming down from the shoulders. The armholes are faced with a wide tapered bias armhole binding that folds back to give the armhole some substance (anything to balance out Bess’s hips, she says, is a good thing 😉 )

Bess used no interfacing in the construction of this shirt – looking at the one she copied it didn’t seem they had used any, she worried about the buttonholes cocking up not working and the collar-band not lying properly but it was fine, if the fabric was less stable than lawn she would use light interfacing.

Fabric and Notions:
Blue trellis print cotton lawn
10mm red buttons

Pattern: drafted from manufactured shirt.

Also seen, cloud print red and white jersey skirt

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Fine Red Wool Dress with Giant Rickrack Trim

Bess wearing a Laurent Garigue fine red wool panelled dress with giant rickrack sewn around the neck, worn over red and white polka dot printed jersey raglan sleeved t-shirt.

The red wool comes with an organza trim down one selvedge, which Bess dutifully ignored (she did think she *might* use it on the hem, but Bess doesn’t feel comfortable in anything resembling a frill), it is possibly criminal to ignore what is essentially the wow factor of the fabric, but she has saved it and may well use it on something else in the future. The wool is fine and gorgeous – a kind of Varuna/Challis, and will be suitable to wear throughout the year.

The giant rickrack needed to be hand sewn so it would lay correctly; a slightly tedious operation (Bess likes to sew QUICKLY), but well worth it.

The dress is lined in a cotton and silk voile, so it is ever so light, but surprisingly warm.

There’s no zip-it just chucks over the head.

Fabrics and Notions:


Red Laurent Garigue wool with silk organza pleated trim #3513,
Giant turquoise rickrack,
Fuchsia Pink Silk and Cotton voile lining. (Pattern: Bess’s own).


Red polka dot viscose and elastane jersey, Pattern: Marcy Tilton for Vogue #8636 (lengthened sleeves and altered collar)



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Heart Quilted Fairy Dresses

Kitcat and Miaow wearing their heart quilted dresses with chiffon wings. All made by Bess

Fabrics and Notions:

Kitcat: (sugar plum fairy)
Pink heart quilted polyester #3330
Pink polyester georgette #3104 (wings)
Pale pink nylon tulle (underskirt)
Dusky pink grey nylon tulle (underskirt)
White satin (lining)
Pale pink satin elastic (to attach wings to wrists)
Pale pink bias binding

Miaow: (water baby)
Cream heart quilted polyester #3380
Cream polyester georgette (wings)
Pale green nylon net (underskirt)
Pale grey nylon net (underskirt)
Ivory nylon tulle (underskirt)
White satin (lining)
Ivory satin elastic (to attach wings to wrists)
Pale green bias binding

Patterns: Made up. Circular skirt plus a basic block bodice.

Lesson learned: back openings have to go beyond the waist – I thought as the waist was elasticated slightly that there would be enough give to get in and out, but it is a right palaver! Now all have to be unpicked (dammit) and bodged altered.


heart quilted poly fairy dress
heart quilted poly fairy dress

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Black Wool and Mohair Double Breasted Coat

black wool and mohair coating

Bess ready for winter wearing her superb black wool and mohair coat lined with spotty red and purple Laurent Garigue twill silk. The collar and facings are interfaced with silk organza which kept it really light.

Fabrics and Notions:

Black Wool and Mohair Coating #3329
Laurent Garigue Spotty Print Silk Twill (lining)
Silk Organza
Half Round Silver Metal Buttons

Pattern: Burda Magazine -October 2012 edition.

spotty laurent garigue twill lining
spotty laurent garigue twill lining


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Cloud Print Jersey Mini Skirt and Raglan Top

raglan sweatshirt and cloud printed jersey mini skirt

Bess wearing her cloud printed cotton elastane jersey mini skirt, with cobalt blue double jersey raglan sleeve top. Both the top and the skirt took less than half an hour to make (each) – more time was spent waiting for the iron to heat up, or choosing which side to do the top (the reverse of that fabric is a lovely teal colour.

Bess loves things that take less than half an hour to make 🙂

Fabrics and Notions:

Cotton Elastane cloud printed jersey #2846.
Cobalt Blue/Teal double sided jersey #3193. See more jersey here


Skirt: DKNY for Vogue (adapted from long skirt, pattern now discontinued)
Top: Marcy Tilton for Vogue. #8636 (collar, cuffs and hem adapted from pattern)

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Ivory Guipure Lace Wedding Dress with Detachable Lower Skirt


Anthea looking beautiful wearing the ivory Guipure lace dress that unbuttons to become a short dress for the evening. Backed in cream stretch cotton sateen to warm up the colour and give it a bit of structure, and lined in cream Venezia lining. Made by Bess


Once the sun went down Anthea took off the lower skirt. Nice shoes!

guipure lace wedding dress with lower skirt detached
guipure lace wedding dress with lower skirt detached

Turquoise satin bias binding was used to pipe the neckline to add just a touch of colour

guipure lace wedding dress neckline detail
guipure lace wedding dress neckline detail

The skirt and the lower skirt were embroidered with a red heart so as to match up when putting together (there are seventeen buttons holding it together – you really don’t want to button them on cocky!

guipure lace wedding dress hearts detail
guipure lace wedding dress hearts detail

Bess embroidered a label with the date of the wedding plus a few spare buttons, and sewed it on only three sides so as to double as an emergency (inside) pocket

guipure lace wedding dress pocket detail
guipure lace wedding dress pocket detail


Fabrics and Notions:

Ivory Guipure Lace
Cream Stretch Cotton Sateen
Cream Venezia Lining
Fine piping cord
Turquoise satin bias binding
Invisible zip
Shell Buttons
Embroidery thread
Remnant of shot turquoise Linen

Pattern: Bess’s Own

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Pop-art Print Panelled Shift Dress

pop art printed stretch cotton sateen dress

Bess wearing her panelled pop-art print stretch cotton sateen lined dress, complete with the fimo wedding couple wire framed ‘hat’.

Despite Bess going to the bother of putting in an invisible zip, she just throws it over her head. (she doesn’t put zips in that pattern anymore) AND, much to her disdain (and wasted effort), the dress was originally going to have a panel of the fab glow in the dark cotton straight down the middle, but she scrapped that idea after it was making it hang funny. (and possibly there is enough going on with that dress with out a girt big glowey stripe down her 😉

Fabrics and Notions:

Pop-art print stretch cotton sateen
White Venezia lining
Invisible zip

Pattern: Bess’s own



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Turquoise Cloud Print Stand-Up Collar T-Shirt

cloud printed jersey top

Lulu wearing turquoise cloud print cotton and elastane jersey t-shirt with stand up collar made by Bess.

Fabrics and Notions:

Turquoise cloud print cotton with 7% elastane (v.stretchy) jersey.
Stay tape

Pattern: Adapted from an ancient Vogue Elements hooded top pattern.

To add a stand collar like this to a round neckline is easy as the pattern is cut straight, just cut a rectangle twice the height of the collar (plus seam allowances), and as wide as the circumference of the neckline (do not add seam allowances).  Sew the collar into a tube, fold in half and then overlock or stitch the raw edges together at the neck.