Eeeeeep – I’m a Sewing Indie Month Finalist!!

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I entered my peplum top into the Sewing Indie Month competition, under the “Pattern Hack” challenge and I’m delighted to have made it to the finals (there is some seriously impressive competition).


If you’d like to vote for me, and help me win all kinds of exciting sewing goodies, you can do so by clicking here, and selecting the second number 12 entry. There was a bit of a muddle with the poll, so it’s not actually listed as my name, but hey, these things happen. If you scroll down you can see lovely Rhonda’s correction/explanation in red.

Voting ends Friday 13th June 2014.

Thanks so much

Siobhan xx

Peplum Top


The month of May 2014 was decreed by the sewing blogosphere (or a good part thereof) to be “Sewing Indie Month” – a month-long celebration of some of the fantastic independent pattern designers out there.


What is it that makes these trailblazers so awesome? Let me count the ways:

  1. Firstly, the style of indie patterns tends to be fresh, modern and clean. The same cannot always be said for the big 4 (Vogue, McCalls, Butterick and Simplicity), whose patterns can sometimes feel a little fussy and dated. Side note – if you want a giggle, check out Lladybird’s reviews each time Vogue release a new line. Honestly, on a grey day, posts like this and this are all I need.
  2. Secondly, indie patterns tend to be written in a friendly, jargon-free, accessible way. They don’t assume you have 10 years of experience, they just want you to be able to make something you will wear and love. This makes them ideal for newbs.
  3. Thirdly, in addition to the patterns themselves, a lot of indie designers post blog tutorials and host sewalongs to give you even more support and encouragement. This not only makes things easier, it also connects you to a community of sewists who are all working on the same thing, which I love.

I could go on but let’s get back to Indie Sewing Month. As part of the celebration there were a number of challenges set, one of which was “pattern hacking” – taking a pattern and modifying or customizing it in some way. I’d never really done this (unless you count sticking a gathered skirt on the Elisalex pattern, but that is super simples) so I thought I’d give it a go and try to create a peplum top.

Now, I have to admit, this is a trend that had largely passed me by until the oh-so-stylish peplum-queen Chinelo Bally landed on my tellybox in GBSB II.

p01wjpxdWas anyone else totally mesmerised by everything Chinelo wore/made? And that freehand cutting business?? Actual magic. I heard a rumour that she’s started teaching classes too – UK sewing friends, get on it!!

Having decided on the pattern, the fabric choice was easy – the geeky glasses/blue chevron Echino linen/cotton I picked up in Japan. Yellow on the bodice, chevron on the peplum – I could see it in my mind’s eye and it was good!


I chose BHL’s Anna dress as my base bodice, since I thought the slash neck and kimono sleeves would give the large print plenty of room to play with. This also gave me an opportunity to revisit the pattern and address the fit issues I noticed on my first attempt. I made toiles people – two of em. I used Ginger’s awesome cut-and-pivot method on the front and back to take out the bagginess on the neckline. I tacked in an invisible zip (instead of guessing and pinning). It was a proper job, and the result was a much better fit… I should probably accept that these things go hand-in-hand!


Stashbusting toile

When it came to the peplum, toil-ing it up was super straightforward. I used the calculations for a standard circle skirt, estimated the length (20cm), tried it on with the bodice to work out where the waist seam should be, and then tacked it on. I loved the look and got very excited at this point. I then got out my “proper” fabric and my heart sank a little. The strip of blue chevron was faaaaar too thin to do the peplum I wanted – wah! I decided to carefully sew strips of the chevron together until I got a piece that was wide enough. Even with 3 m worth of pieces there still wasn’t quite enough for my full circle, but we’ll come back to that later.

To avoid having an(other) seam down the front, I cut out one half circle and two quarter circles, adding an additional seam allowance to the quarter circles (for the zip). This also gave me a chance to pattern-match all the seams.

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I tried to be careful with my pattern placement on the bodice too, making sure to pattern match across the back as best I could, and positioning the glasses so they sat nice and whole under the neckline. Things get a little funky around the darts but I don’t think that can be helped… TBH I also totally forgot about the shoulders so it’s a bit of a mess up there. Moving on.

This was my first experience using an invisible zip foot and it went surprisingly smoothly – at first. That was until I noticed that the waistline didn’t exactly match up. Bouyed by the apparent easiness of the whole invisible zip lark, I unpicked the area around the zip, re-pinned and went again. THIS WAS AN ERROR. I ended up having two goes and still the zip is undeniably less invisible around the waistline. Excessive ironing helped but didn’t totally fix the problem. Lesson learned – do not mess with a well-inserted invisible zip.


Lastly I cut some wide strips of bias binding from the yellow to finish the edge of the peplum and disguise the areas where the pattern runs out. As I said, I’m pretty delighted with the finished item. I love the dramatic silhouette.

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So that’s my hack. This challenge is being hosted by Rhonda over at Rhonda’s Creative Life. Head over to see all the impressive hacks other folks have come up with. Including another superdooper peplum top, using the Elisalex as a base. Must put that on my to do list…

Siobhan xx


Tokugawa Anna

Today marks my first project completed with fabric from our Japan trip. Ladies and gents I give you the Tokugawa Anna.


The fabric is a navy and cream wave pattern, used by the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1868). We first saw the pattern as wallpaper in a preserved former government building in Takayama. I loved the simple clean lines and the nod to sea waves, and so was pretty excited to find it in fabric form the next afternoon.

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The blogland concensus is that By Hand London’s Anna Dress pattern is a dream to sew, and I can only agree. It comes together really easily. The issues I had were all of my own making… Firstly, I decided not to do a FBA as my measurements were pretty close to the pattern and this is a less formfitting shape than, say, the princess seams of the Elisalex. However, when I held the bodice pattern pieces up against myself, I felt they were probably going to be too short (I am that attractive shape that is long of body, short of leg) so I added a hefty 6cm, following the instructions on the Anna sewalong. As I wasn’t making a muslin (I know, scandale) I tacked the bodice together first so I could check the fit. It was mostly great but I did need to lower the tip of the bust gathers by about 1cm. So now I am now curious as to whether, had I done a proper FBA, this fiddling (longer bodice, lower gathers) would have been necessary? I am almost tempted to retrace the bodice and see… almost.

When it came to the skirt, I had originally wanted to do a full-length number and bought 3.5m of the fabric with this in mind. However, what I had not considered is that to fit the skirt pieces on the fabric, you have to tessellate them top-to-tail, a no-go if you have a directional print (as I did). Upon realising this, I changed tack and folded the pattern pieces up to knee-length. Now, I don’t know what went wrong here, I thought I had carefully measured, but when I came to sew them all together the hem looked like this, at pretty much every seam:


W.T.F?? Note to self: Next time check the pattern for how/where to shorten the skirt, do not just assume you can measure and all will be fine. In the end it was ok, the hem  just took a lot measuring/checking than it should have done.

The last change I made was to put an exposed metal zip in the back, instead of an invisible one, following Keightly’s excellent instructions. My reasons for this were threefold: Firstly to disguise the fact that the pattern doesn’t reeeeally match across the back (oops), secondly because I love an exposed metal zip on a girly dress and thirdly because I am still waiting for my invisible zip foot to arrive and I was just toooooo impatient to finish this lovely dress.

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Siobhan xx