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Strawberry Print T-Shirts (a pair of strawberry tarts)

a pair of strawberry print t-shirts

When we received the email entitled ‘a pair of strawberry tarts’ we weren’t quite sure what we were opening. 🙀

This is Rachel and Rachel wearing their matching strawberry print cotton and elastane jersey t-shirts along with wolfy the dog (whippet the whippet was locked outside after rolling in fox excrement).

This is possibly our favourite catwalk photo EVER ❤️❤️❤️

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Multicolour Stripe Stretch Cotton Dress

multicolour stripe pattern dress

We have been looking at this stretch cotton sateen multicolour stripe for a while thinking “something FANTASTIC could be made out of this”, and here we have the proof. Marion, with her dress made and designed by the clever stick Dawn Hooper of Hardy and Hooper (Maidenhead). We love the chevron detailing on the back, and the perfectly matched seams. This kind of attention to detail really pays off. 👍

multicolour stripe pattern dress - back chevron detail multicolour stripe pattern dress

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Colour Block Shift Dress

linen colour block shift dress

Pamela sent us this photo after a season of wearing this self proclaimed favourite dress made up from her stash of heavy linen. Aside from the generally pleasing aesthetics of a colour block dress you get to do some quality stash busting. Win/Win! For the best results use like fabrics (weight/drape) and make sure they are colour fast for the cleaning. It’s a good idea to use those colour catcher sheets you put in the machine as a precaution.

She made it up again in Green (which we love) but the yellow remains the favourite.

green linen colour block dress

 

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Green Proofed Linen Raincoat

green proofed linen raincoat with pixel daisy organic cotton lining

Miaow wearing the proofed linen raincoat made for her by Jane using #32 Ottobre pattern from the winter 6/12 catalogue. It is lined in pixel daisy print quilting weight organic cotton (which adds a reasonable amount of weight). It has been top stitched with pink thread (two standard threads through the same eye of the needle), Also used: light blue buttons, a pink open end zip, and lightweight knit iron on interfacing was used in the collars and facings.

green proofed linen raincoat with pixel daisy organic cotton lining

green proofed linen raincoat with pixel daisy organic cotton lining

 

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Rabbit Print Cotton Shirt with Concealed Buttonhole Band

bunny print cotton shirt

Pauline made this sweet bunny print shirt with printed quilting weight cotton. It is a Butterick pattern (6324) that has minimal/confusing instructions (it is clearly the instructions at fault and not the readers!), so Pauline came a bit unstuck working out how to do the concealed buttonhole band, but she got there in the end 🙂

The collar and cuffs are interfaced with lightweight knit iron-on interfacing

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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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Red, Blue and Yellow Princess Dress

super woman princess dress

Bess was supposed to be making a princess dress for her niece Eloise but it kind of mutated into a Wonder Woman dress instead. This is what happens when you sew with no real idea of what you are making! The skirt is made up of many layers of tulle with a Venezia lining, the bodice is yellow viscose jersey that was a bit thin for the job so was interlined with a cotton jersey, and then appliqued with a piece of sequinned fabric. There is elastic in the waist and sleeves to draw it in and red plastic snap fasteners on the back bodice.

The skirt was made without a pattern (gather the tulle until it is 7″ bigger than the waist), the bodice was pinched off a bridesmaid dress -long since discontinued and certainly not intended for floppy jersey. The worst bit was sewing the heart on straight…. or getting the bulk of the tulle onto the bodice (it had to be ripped apart and regathered with pleats as just gathering was too bulky with all the layers). Despite the moments of GAAAHHHHH! WHAT AM I DOING! it was a great fun make.

 

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Pink Tutu with Sequins

pink tulle tutu with sequins

Bess made this pink tutu for her niece Amélie (who is 16 months) for Christmas, numerous layers of tulle were gathered and pleated (there is a few layers of cream underneath), and then fitted to a silk dupion waistband and drawn in with elastic. Then, Christmas being Christmas and the bling level needing to be raised Bess added beads and sequins to the waist.

Bess used the formula of gathering the tulle to 7″ bigger than waist measurement which worked okay but for a skirt this small 5″ is probably enough.

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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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Kitsch Cats Print Jersey Dress

kitsch cat digital print jersey dress

Kitcat wearing her terribly kitsch cat digital print cotton and elastane jersey long sleeved dress (made by Jane). The pattern is Burda 8455 but Jane pieced together the yoke and hem so as not to cut up the print. Kitcat is such a squinge it is cut to age 6 but lengthened in sleeve and body (Kitcat is 9!). The neck was lowered so as to go over her head and negate the need for a zip but next time the neck will be altered so it doesn’t gape.

Now all the grown-ups want one too.

She then said that she needed pink leopard print ponte jersey cardigan to complete the outfit -personally we are not so sure this is a good fashion move but what do we know in the world of 9 year old fashion? We shall leave it to you to decide. The pattern is McCall’s 6542 (age 6 with lengthened sleeves), it is bound down the front and around the neck with jersey binding.

punk and black leopard print ponte jersey cardigan

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Amy Butler Printed and Laminated Cotton Raincoat

Julie made up this fabulous Amy Butler print laminated cotton raincoat using Burda 7047. We love the spotty cotton lining and the drawstring waist which gives it just enough shape. Sewing laminated cotton can be a bit of a challenge, if you find it sticking to your feed dogs and not feeding through the sewing machine properly tear off strips of tissue paper and sandwich the fabric between the strips, it will then tear off when you are done.

 

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Sequinned Dress for a little Angel

sequinned dress singing little angel

Kitcat singing us all Christmas carols in her sequinned dress made by Jane. It is lined in heavy tricot and the armholes and neck are bound with jersey binding.

You get fabulous movement with this sequinned fabric as each sequin is black on one side and silver on the other, so every move is exaggerated with the movement of the sequin. They are surprisingly easy to sew -just snip them out of the seam allowance so you don’t need to sew through them.

You can find various sequinned fabrics HERE

1926
black and silver sequinned fabric
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Liberty Alice in Wonderland Print Cotton Dress and Shirt

Liberty Alice in Wonderland printed cotton Lawn Dress and Shirt

Kitcat and Miaow visiting Granny (Jane) at the shop wearing their matching Liberty tana lawn Alice in Wonderland print dress and shirt. The pattern is Burda 9417 (as seen already for school shirts), they tie in at the back. Jane didn’t use any interfacing for the collars, the sleeves puff with elastic in the hem. They both have mismatched coloured buttons.

Miaow (age 5) is wearing a bee print cotton skirt trimmed with rick-rack and gathered onto yellow elastic which SHE MADE HERSELF! We helped a bit, she drove the sewing machine and overlocker with the pedals up on shoe boxes so she could reach. She sat on our lap and helped guide the fabric and shouted STOP! when she was going to drive off the edge. It’s probably the most fun you can have with a child without custard pies.

 

Didn’t she do well?!

Liberty Alice in Wonderland printed cotton Lawn Dress and Shirt
Liberty Alice in Wonderland printed cotton Lawn Dress and Shirt
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Child’s Fur Coat with Bunny Rabbit Print Lining

Child's fur coat with bunny rabbit print lining

Jane and Elwen made this sooo sweeet fur coat using Burda 9501 pattern, They lined it in bunny rabbit print quilting cotton and used toning toggle buttons. There is no interfacing -not even on the button holes which Jane insists is fine and they didn’t need it. She can break the rules because she has been sewing for about a thousand years.

Child's fur coat with bunny rabbit print lining
Love the way even her name-tag tones!

 

Child's fur coat with bunny rabbit print lining
Child’s fur coat with bunny rabbit print lining

 

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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
Butterfly
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
doodle
hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
doodle
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
robot
hand embroidered childre's drawings onto wool tweed skirt
star
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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Orange Bouclé Wool Mix Knit Braced Skirt and Jacket

orange bouclé wool mix knit braced skirt

Holly made this tangerine orange cotton wool and viscose mix bouclé heavy knit from LG as part of a Plymouth College of Art Fashion project to make a ‘skirt’ and cape as part of her university project. The not so practical skirt has large pockets – the entire front and back panels, braces to hold it up and metal boning through the top to hold the shape!  It was inspired by Cornish China Clay and they held a fashion show at the eden project to help raise money for the people and gardens charity.

It’s nuts. I want one. 

orange bouclé wool mix braced skirt -back
orange bouclé wool mix braced skirt -back
catwalk show of orange bouclé knit braced skirt
catwalk show of orange bouclé knit braced skirt

 

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Duck Egg Silk Damask Ralph Rucci for Vogue Dress

silk damask Ralph Rucci Dress

Suzanne from Cyprus celebrating her son’s wedding (he’s the one holding the flowers) wearing Silk Damask made up in a v-neck flared dress by Ralph Rucci for Vogue (V1381). This pattern is not simple – there are quilted yokes and bands, an attached belt with some tricky rouleau to tie it together —all in a fabric that doesn’t easily yield. It took her a while but it was very much worth it.

We love this photo. Such fun.

 

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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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Moonstone Beaded Silk Dress with Tail

moonstone embroidered silk moroccain dress

Jane made this silver grey Silk Moroccain crepe cowl neck wedding dress for her eldest daughter, Jessie. It is beaded with thousands of moonstone chips (Jane has the patience of a saint).

To ensure the fabric had enough strength the silk was blocked onto Venezia lining (those chips are very heavy). All in all the dress took about 3 months; a lot of evenings and weekends, and never more than a few hours on the trot due to a broken elbow- and concern for her own sanity. Jessie helped with the beading and Bess was responsible for constructing the tail (Jessie insisted on a tail, Jane was appalled at the idea but the Bride gets what the Bride wants).

Silk Moroccain is a double crepe that drapes well and has a subtle lustre to it. We try, but don’t always have it in stock,  but can order it (next day delivery) in around 40 colours.

The tail hooks on to the back with corset hooks and was stuffed with Polyfil.

Well you wouldn’t have a normal dress for getting married in Vegas by Johnny Cash, would you?

Jessie swinging the tail of her moonstone embellished wedding dress
Jessie swinging the tail of her moonstone embellished wedding dress
Johnny Cash and guests
Johnny Cash and guests
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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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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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Velour and Printed Soft Net Christmas Dresses

red velvet and tulle party dresses with yeti fur waistcoats

Kitcat and Miaow at Chatsworth house wearing their matching red velour and pink spotty soft net dresses, with yeti fur waistcoats. Made by Jane.

Fabrics and Notions:
Dresses:
Red stretch velour.
Pink and Orange spotty print soft dress net.
Pink, orange and red dress net.
Cotton voile (lining).
Spotty Bias Binding.
Red Satin Ribbon (Sash).
Waistcoats:
Off-white Yeti fur
Cream brushed cotton (lining)
Pompoms made with wool.

Waistcoats made due to a nostalgic memory of Bess wearing hers as a little girl (also made by Jane)

1978 yeti waistcoat
1978 yeti waistcoat