Month: January 2014

Jocole Endless Dress

I made my last *cough* digital pattern purchase this year and went for the Jocole Endless Dress. It’s possible, with a bit of tweaking, to make hundreds of dresses that are all different. Jodie worked it out. She clearly likes maths.

I am planning three or four dresses -at least- from this pattern but when I had a hankering to make a quick frock with a cream alençon overlay, guess what I grabbed? Yup.

What I hope you can see is how closely the 6 bodice (empire length) matches the pattern I had to seriously refit from her last emergency gotta-have-it-now dress? Yup, no alterations & it sewed up super.


I cheated: I used the scalloped edge of the lace for the skirt & arm hems. I used Velcro at the back closure & didn’t make a placket in the skirt, which I just cut in two parts, rather than two separate backs. I think I’d cut the sleeves with a bit more room at the sleeve head but otherwise, perfect.

You can see the short sleeves have been lengthened a bit – it is January – but I used the top to quickly cut an A-line under dress because I want the chance to swap it for a brighter colour – pink is first up.

I’ve got a doll dress cut & ready to sew – they’re included with the pattern! – plus enough lace for a 6-12 month size too. When I get a chance, I will get decent photos of all 3 – and recover that armchair! Seriously, I dislike the chair & rug SO much…

Monday Digital Download

One of the things I love about the internets is finding images to add to my historical clothing library. In the past, pre-offspring, I designed and made women’s historical corsets and wedding outfits, usually a customised corset and skirt, with matching bag, shoes or boots. Oh how I loved playing with the silk, satin, browsing for hours around images to inspire my wedding ladies. One of my favourites was an astonishing lady called Jean who chose a shot turquoise and black dupion satin to coordinate with exquisite brocade and had a bolero jacket, corset, long skirt with a contrast hidden pleat, bag and teeny tiny boots in turquoise made for her wedding to her long-term partner…

Jean 1

customised silk covered boots

customised silk covered boots

or another incredible Jean, who wore a crushed velvet corset with detachable sleeves, long velvet skirt and silk cape, matching bridesmaids ribbon laced frocks and arrived at her wedding on a white horse, complete with jacobite warriors. No I’m not kidding.

Jean K 1

She had a double layered silk and velvet skirt in the most incredible colours – and completely rocked it.

Jean K 2

So the point is: I couldn’t do any of the things I do without an internal visual library of source material, inspiration, pictorial cookies, to get my imagination moving. I’ve managed to collect images over the years which are unique and too cute to stay stuck in my files. Along with these, I’ll be sharing tiny patterns for things, other snippets that I hope you enjoy and want to keep. Most of these will be sold for the princely sum of…. ONE DOLLAR! I know, I’m based in the UK but I’m very happy – delighted – to say that some of you astonishing folk visit from all over the globe. And people wonder why I am rarely lonely, even though my travelling has been seriously restricted these last few years!

So, for your delectation and enjoyment, I’m delighted to offer my inaugural Monday Digital Download: a 1914 illustration of comfortable Winter doll clothes – and then I’m going to make y’all some PDF patterns to sew them up! As this is the very first, I’m going to offer it for $1 with those signing up to my email subscription list before the 20th of January 2014 getting a bonus PDF detailing pre WWI hair care! Just click [purchase_link id=”408″ style=”button” color=”inherit” text=”Purchase”]. You can get an idea of what’s included below. Please let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you.
Winter Doll Clothes

Time to get creatively organised: how do you manage?


It’s no secret that I am a woman who takes on too much. Repeatedly. Never finishes anything. Has fabulous flashes of inspiration but then… blah. Meh. (your choice of fa*l word). How else to describe someone who paints, sews, gardens, grows, teaches, cleans, cooks, just barely manages to keep all the plates spinning but then can’t fit in time for the stuff to keep me able to do the above (yoga, walking, reading, drinking coffee with friends, daydreaming up some inspiration).

This year not only will I discover the meaning of life (geek joke klaxon) as I attain my forty second birthday, but I will complete my butterfly like rebirth somewhere I can be messy, creative, discover my superpowers and creative kryptonite AND get myself organised to within an inch of my previously chaotic life: the Life is Messy Bootcamp.

What is the Bootcamp? Do you have to get sweaty? (Let me whisper something to you: I don’t DO that kind of thing). No. You can sit in your PJs, your smoking jacket, your fluffy maribou negligee, drink coffee/tea/martini and get yourself sorted. LOTS of inspiring video lessons, guides, quizzes, by the adorable Mayi, our Cap’n Cupcake, and an astonishingly supportive private FB group, who will give you honest feedback, support and cheerleading/commiseration as required. Did I mention the tons of printables to make your life more organised?

My favourites: Daily, weekly and monthly schedules; This is a list (I LOVE LISTS); Idea incubator; Super Power Finder; One Page Project Planner… it’s a long list. What is best? You print it out, scribble, draw on it, then you can print it again and again and again.


Don’t take my word for it though. Hop on over to Life is Messy and never feel embarassed about your creatively messy inspired need to daydream and think big and rediscover who you are EVER AGAIN. Now go get comfy and enjoy x

Candy Castle Peppermint Swirl: a dress to twirl in!

I have realised that sewing, much like exercise, is best done while our enthusiasm is high. When Wee Bear and I spotted a photo of the Peppermint Swirl Dress by candy Castle Patterns, we were definitely both feeling enthusiastic! It’s visually stunning and looked like it could cope with the required amount of twirling at our Sunday Club Christmas party.

20140102-114712.jpg (image from Candy Castle Patterns)

We only had a couple of days until the party, so I set off to our local department store on the 27th of December, not realising that all the fabric would be half price. I think I spent just as much as I would have but ended up with more fabric for summer dresses! It felt like the rest of Edinburgh was there too but I kept my head during a proper anxiety attack – nothing was going to stop me – and came home with 3 metres each of a red and green cotton print from the Rowan “Love & Joy” range. The fabric allowances are generous but I have about 75cm of each left, plus a ton of scraps big enough to make yo-yo flowers etc. Guess what I’m going to make tonight?


I’m hoping it isn’t so screamingly Christmas it can’t be worn again, but she insisted on that combination. I’ve seen lots of other examples and it looks just as pretty in more subtle combinations where the tonal values are matched but the colours are different (think pale aqua and coral!). I used the Friday evening to fit and then rapidly alter a muslin bodice. The pattern instructions are very good: if sewing for a boutique or child you can’t measure, use a regular fit but if you’ve the kid at hand, slim fit is more suitable. As it was, I had splendid help by email & Facebook chat from Rebecca, the talented designer. Together we worked out where I had gone wrong and I used my trusty Swedish Tracing Paper to make a rather stiff toile to try the next morning.

Saturday was spent taping & tracing the pattern, again onto my tracing fabric, then cutting out. I managed to cut down this time immensely by stacking up squares of fabric the right size for the upper & lower panels, then pinning carefully and cutting five at a time. There are fourteen panels made up of two pieces, minimum, in each dress so you can see why this is important! If you buy this pattern (& why wouldn’t you!) please pay close attention to the cutting instructions and lay your pieces the right way up!

After checking the bodice fit was good, I took the rest of the afternoon & evening – with tea breaks of course – to sew it up. It goes together really nicely, no nasty surprises and I liked the single fold bias hem technique, as it holds the skirt out a little without the need for a petticoat – win. I took a little longer finishing off the lining, as I chose to enclose the arm & waist seams to avoid setting off her SPD issues. It’s a matter of following the neckline instructions but just turning in the seam allowance and slip stitching it in place with the seam edges inside. The bodice and sleeves were sewn by regular machine (my trusty Janome 6500) but the skirt panels and seams were all overlocked. When joining the upper and lower panels, I simply chained all fourteen seams, carried it to the ironing board, snipped them apart and pressed in one go.

Because I was sewing so fast, I didn’t take any pictures! However, it was worth it to see her face when she woke on Sunday to see her new dress hanging on her little door handle. Since I’ve promised myself that I will be asleep by 11 for the rest of this year, I’m not sure I will do that again but I know how fast & easy it goes together, so can’t wait to make another.

Back view

Father Raphael handing out their Christmas gifts, chosen by lovely friends.

Side view, showing the sleeves from the Princess Dress pattern – which is next on our list!

Full twirl action shot!

Best of all, it’s comfy to sit and draw in.

Next: working out how to get really good photos of both her and my clothes!