Simply Sewing Magazine – Adele dress

I think I’ve found my favourite fabric to sew and wear – viscose ! (Or Rayon depending on where in the globe you are). I bought this fabric for €3 a metre, total bargain so I jumped into sewing it before it got lost on a shelf.

This is the Adele dress from Simply Sewing Magazine.

I love seeing the growing selection of sewing magazines in Irish newsagents. There were almost no dedicated sewing magazines to be found in Ireland when I was a teenager. I used to buy my Burda magazines by subscription direct from Germany. Otherwise I had to wait for a big shopping trip to Cork or Dublin City to buy vogue or simplicity envelope patterns.

A couple of UK magazines, (anyone remember ‘Me’ magazine?) would include a sewing pattern as part of a craft pullout but the instructions were bare bones.

When ‘Me’ went out of print, ‘Prima’ magazine was the only one with a pattern – although oddly they stopped including a pull out pattern just as sewing got popular again! The current Prima magazines have you phone up to order the pattern, which is too much hassle when you want a quick fix!

Anyway, not to wander off too much…I’ve picked up a few of the new magazines and am gradually working my way through them. In all honesty there’s not much reading in them, a lot of sewing basics are repeatedly covered along with the usual blogger features and pages of adds.

So back to the Adele dress : I made it in viscose and instead of binding the neckline, I lined the top with some black viscose cut from an old maxi skirt. I didn’t line the skirt because I think it’s easier just to have a few slips in neutral colours. Saves time on making up and also on washing/drying.

I usually wear an 8/10 in rtw so cut a size 10. But when I tried it on halfway through it was a bit tight on the waist, so I added two small oval shapes to the side seams. The busy pattern of the fabric means they’re not even noticeable.

Side seam inserts & mismatched thread!

Other than that, it flew together and I’ve worn it loads. The folds in the skirt hang nicely in the viscose -I might try it out in a slightly heavier fabric like a crepe or double knit as it’s the kind of shape I love to wear and the wide sleeves work well with a layer underneath.

So that’s the scéal here, til next time..happy sewing!

My custom dressform

No sewing or knitting to show off today – just a version of me that talks less and will happily pose for photos! After more than twenty years sewing I finally own a dressform that’s shaped like me!



So do you need a dressform if you sew?

Well, unless it closely mirrors the shape you’re sewing for, then it’s probably not much use. People new to sewing often tell me they can’t wait to buy a dressform and start creating all the clothes they want (I blame all those draping videos on instagram!) but unless you already match a sample size then you’re still going to have to do some extra altering/patternmaking to make it fit you.

I bought my adjustable dressform after a few years of sewing, convinced that it was going to make everything easy.  No more asking someone to pin a dress on me, or waiting for people to come back for a fitting…just a few turns of the dials and my fitting woes would be over..or so I thought.  Truth is, an adjustable, one-size-fits-all will actually fit no-one.

The back is too straight and the waist/hip curves are too proportionally different to most people I have sewn for. In over 20 yrs and many garments later, the only figure it properly replicated in real life was my petite, hourglass friend who once danced professionally – so not your average girl!

In reality it was an expensive clothes rack that was useful when hemming dresses or pressing coats!

What I really needed was a custom form, but as always I was limited by budget. So I decided to use the form I have, pad it where necessary and then ‘dress’ it with a cotton bodice made to my exact measurements.

My original inspiration for this goes way back to a site that I started reading before I ever discovered hobby blogs – FashionIncubator – it’s a site for professional sewn product manufacturers, and has a wealth of information that can often be applied to home sewing. That’s where I first saw the idea of using cling film to make a pattern .  Then more recently, Kate posted about this same method that she and some friends used to draft blocks. It was just the reminder I needed to get wrapping … aided by a slightly reluctant teenager we used some cling-film and packing tape and then marked waist, neckline etc.


I used the pattern to make a stiff cotton princess-seamed bodice that opened at the front with an invisible zip.  It was tweaked a little to fit my shape, especially my upper back and shoulders, I have very straight shoulders (in comparison to commercial patterns) and I also have a definite curve to my upper back/ shoulders.



I should also mention that I found this blog post on Cloning Couture to be really helpful, and although I would love my dressform to look as neat and professional – I was going the quick and easy route, since I’m using a wobbly adjustable form that could fall apart any day now!

Adjustable form in background


I adjusted the dressform to match my back width and high bust measurements. Then I layered Fleece and wadding to fill in the waist and shape the upper back.



I then dressed it with the cotton bodice, before padding the stomach and backside, and dressed it with a primark stretchy top to keep everything in place!


So there you are now… will it be the start of new couture gowns draped in a perfectly edited, time-lapse video? Or a better dressed clothes hanger for the sewing room…. Only time will tell …! x

Shirtdress details :Simplicity 8014


Beautiful pink sunset from my wild back-garden

We’ve just come out of the longest heatwave I can remember in Ireland, amazing sunshine every day is not something we are used to around here! So you can imagine we’ve spent more time than usual outdoors, and not much sewing has been happening. I have been knitting and made an attempt at joining in with Kate’s knitalong but progress has been slow and there’s not much to show and tell there!

So for now I’m sharing some pictures of a finished sewing object – I’ve made 2 versions of this shirtdress,  it’s Simplicity 8014 and they’ve gotten a lot of wear.  I think I first saw this pattern on Beth’s sewing blog – Sunnygal Sewing Studio. If you’re not following her, then I definitely recommend it – lots of very useful sewing information from a lady who knows her stuff!

I made a few changes from the original and took some photos as I went . The picture below is of the dress inside-out on my dressform:


I used a black and floral cotton fabric that I bought from the remnants bin, and a lightweight cerise pink poly crepe to line it.  It’s mostly underlined (when both fabrics are held together and treated like one piece), except at the hems and side seams, where the lining hangs separately. I’m sharing a few pics that show how I treated the pockets, which are held in the side seams.

Instead of making two separate pockets from lining and fabric, I joined them together from the beginning so that all the raw edges are hidden.

Using 2 pocket pieces cut from fabric and two from lining, I laid them with the fabric pieces right side together, and then two lining pieces on top :


After sewing through all four layers, I trimmed away the excess fabric from the curved edges.

Then snipped as far as the stitching at the opening edges as below:



I caught one of the pink lining pieces at the open edge and held the other 3 pieces together and pulled them through the opening, which trapped all the raw edges between the pink lining pieces:


I joined them to the shirt side seams on the main fabric. When I was sewing up the lining side seams, I left the pocket opening in the seam and pulled the pocket through, so that it hangs on the inside of the dress, rather than between the dress and lining. The lining can then be hand or machine stitched to the pocket edges.


Pocket bag hanging on inside of dress – before ironing!

So there you are, hopefully it’ll be of use to someone! I do still have to finish my burda cape-jacket, but it’s parked up for now, while I decide if I need to shorten it before adding the buttons,  it could be a while before that shows up as a finished object!

Slán go fóill!


Crochet…moving past beginner mode

Any crochet fans out there? I learned the basics of crochet in primary school at about 8yrs old. I’ve stuck to rectangles since then..blankets, scarves, bags. Every now and again I thought about making myself something but always picked up knitting instead.


Anyway, not long ago I was in a shop and got talking to another customer who was buying yarn for a crochet project. She told me she never had the patience for knitting and that crochet was so much faster, when compared row-by-row…


That was enough to make me re-consider tackling a crochet pattern! Sometimes you just want a quick make.  I saved a few on ravelry, but nothing grabbed my attention until the Skysail top by Lena Fedotova Pattern page here

It’s a simple shape made in one piece from the neck down. Since it was my first time following a pattern it took a while to get started, but the instructions were written out and had diagrams so it helped with any confusion I was having.


The photo above shows where I started to work on the body after I had skipped the space for the sleeves. This part confused me a little, but it was a matter of just trusting the instructions.


The US crochet terms are different to what I’m used to, but once I kept track it didn’t cause any issue. I did mess up a little at the side seams, caused by tv distraction..but it’s not obvious enough to bother me.

The bright colour choice was inspired by a lovely blog I follow called Yards of Happiness. Dana finishes knits with super – human speed and uses some great colour combinations!


The neckline was too wide open, so I added two more rows to it afterwards and they blended in fine.


If you’ve ever made granny squares, then this is essentially a granny square with some extra details!  I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, and yep it was much faster than knitting😉


I’m on a search for my next crochet make…maybe a simple cardi/jacket.