The perfect dress for eating autumn food: Tessuti’s Bella

My first Tessuti pattern. I’m. In. Love.


So swirly.


So loose fitting through the waist (what waist?)


Clever pockets.


Technical details

Pattern: Tessuti’s Bella Dress

bella line drawing

Size: XXS to XL ( bust 81 to 106 cm). I made a size M (bust 96).

Fabric: I think it’s a wool crepe. It’s a very long term stash dweller, at least 30 years old. It had one or two tiny holes, as did the lining folded up with it. Lets hope it holds up okay, because I seriously love everything about this dress!

Changes I made are all minor stuff: sleeves a cm or so longer, dress a cm or so shorter , hems stitched by hand, neck a little wider ( not intentionally!) and lining.

I lined the dress by cutting out all the pattern pieces in lining as well as in the wool crepe. For the back piece I cut the lining on the fold rather than adding the slightly shaped seam that’s in the outer fashion fabric.


It looks like I stretched the back seam a bit when I top stitched. Oh well.  I can’t see it when I’m wearing it. Also you can see the creases from having a lovely meal out with He Who Cooks the night before.

Back to lining. I lined right up to the neck rather than drafting a facing. I reinforced the neck with strips of interlacing, snipped to allow it to go around the curves.

20170527_042850749_iOS - Copy

Tessuti pattern instructions are awesome and they talk about using tear away vilene around the neck. I didn’t have any, so I improvised with these strips.

What I didn’t pay attention to was the seam allowances. Tessuti has a seam allowance of quarter inch for the neck. I forgot and thought it was the standard half inch.

So the neck is  a little bit wider than intended.


This is a great dress pattern. Easy to sew and fabulous to wear.




Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mmmm. Delicious autumn food

[is it still autumn??!]


Who knew cauliflower could be so delicious?

Twice-baked cauliflower souffles


  • 200g cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 350ml milk
  • 80g unsalted butter
  • 120g plain flour
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 140g gruyere, grated
  • Radicchio leaves to serve


  • Preheat the oven to 180C and grease four 1-cup (250ml) ramekins. Place the cauliflower, onion, bay leaf, thyme and milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 8-10 minutes until cauliflower is tender. Strain, reserving cauliflower and milk, and discard the other solids.
  • Melt butter in a clean saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, then gradually whisk in the reserved milk. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until thickened and combined.
  • Whisk in the egg yolks, 1/2 cup (125ml) cream and half the cheese until combined. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Whiz the cauliflower in a food processor until smooth, then add cheese sauce and pulse to combine. Season.
  • In a large bowl, using electric beaters, whisk eggwhites to stiff peaks. Fold one-quarter of eggwhites into cauliflower mixture to loosen, then gently fold in remainder. Divide among prepared ramekins, place in a deep baking pan and fill with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden.
  • Remove from pan and set aside to cool slightly before turning out onto a baking tray (they can be covered and refrigerated for 24 hours at this stage).
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Pour some of remaining cream over souffles and scatter with remaining cheese. Bake for a further 10-15 minutes until souffles rise again and sauce bubbles.
  • Place in radicchio ‘cups’, drizzle with remaining sauce grind some black pepper over and enjoy.



Prefer something different as an appetizer?


Herb and feta bread


  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 150 grams (1 1/4 cups) plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 large  eggs
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 150 grams plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 200 gramssheep’s milk feta cheese
  • 1 bunch fresh herb leaves (flat-leaf parsley, basil, chervil, chives, mint, fennel preferably a mix), about 20 grams or 1 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  • Butter or grease a 24-by-12-cm  loaf pan and sprinkle half the sesame seeds onto the bottom and sides, shaking the pan to coat.
  • Combine the flour and baking powder in a bowl.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, yogurt, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cheese and herbs.
  • Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan, level the surface with a spatula, and sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds.
  • Put into the oven to bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the loaf is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Allow to cool for a few minutes and run a knife around the pan to loosen. Unmold and transfer to a rack to cool.
  • Cut in slices or cubes just before serving, slightly warm or at room temperature.

from Chocolate and Zucchini


Now lets talk about main course – enough to have delicious leftovers in your lunch box the next day.


Moroccan slow cooked lamb


  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds trimmed boned lamb shoulder, cut into 5 cm cubes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, chopped ( or a can of tomatoes)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons (packed) grated lemon peel
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander


  • Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl.
  • Add lamb and toss to coat.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large frypan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add lamb to skillet and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally and adding 2 more tablespoons oil to pan between batches, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to slow cooker after each batch.
  • Add onion and tomato paste to drippings in pan. Reduce heat to medium; sauté until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add broth, garbanzo beans, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, ginger, and lemon peel and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits.
  • Transfer everything to slow cooker and cooke for at least 4 hours on low
  • Serve with pearl couscous and coriander.
  • Enjoy leftovers the next day at work.

From epicurious


Looking for something sweet to finish? How about a piece of cake? ( yes, pomegranate seeds make two appearances on the blog today)


Blackberry ricotta cake


  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups ricotta
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup frozen blackberries, divided


  • Preheat oven to 175°C. Line a 22cm-diameter cake pan with baking paper.
  • Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup berries, taking care not to crush them. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup berries over top.
  • Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.
  • Sprinkle with more berries to serve. Make sure you also have lots of cream, Add pomegranate seeds to make it look extra pretty.

from bon appetit

Returning  to regular programming of sewing soon..





Posted in Cake, Cooking, Dessert, Menus, Starters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Me-Made Mothers Day dresses

A lunch time photo of me made Mother’s Day in May with my dear friend M and our lovely daughters in their mum made dresses. This has become our new tradition.

This year is brought to you by patterns from BurdaStyle and Tessuti (Stella and Yuki, to be precise- see NonSuch Sewing for more info).

I look extra tall in these photos because I am wearing ridiculously high heels. And Felicity is not. That’s what’s I have to do now to not be shorter than my kids. Taking a bit of getting used too! (the being shorter bit, not the wearing of high heels)

My dress is BurdaStyle 08/2016 #131 in a straight size 44 made in wool crepe gifted to me from Rhonda Buss several years ago. Thank you Rhonda. It is glorious fabric!

You’ll note that I reversed the tucks and tie on the front. Not intentionally, just the way I cut it out. Other changes were to line the dress, and to add a keyhole button opening at the back neck because my local Spotlight store didn’t have a long enough zip in the right colour.

Felicity’s dress is BurdaStyle 10/2016 #104 made in a stretch polyester velvet. I drafted a 38 with a FBA. Her measurements put her more into a size 40, but I wanted some negative ease for this fabric. There’s enough stretch in this fabric to not need a zip, so no zip was used. I also swapped the neck facing out for satin bias binding.

The fit turned out very well and Felicity is very pleased with her dress. She looks fabulous in it too!

This dress has lots of lovely design features. Photographing black velvet in bright midday sun does not do it justice!

I think I need to make another version for me in another fabric just to show you how lovely it is…

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

Why I sew so much BurdaStyle

I received this Newlook pattern as a gift with Sew magazine bought in Heathrow Airport. Yes I am that person who buys sewing magazines to read on long haul flights.

Fabulous I thought. A free pattern that’s looks so useful!

I made up style C in a cream linen from deep stash.

Best French seams and precision sewing I ever did do. Of course I don’t have photos of it – unwearable: the armscye was too low and it was too loose under the bust.

So I did a petite adjustment (2 cms out of the bodice above the bust and some waist shaping) and made another version. This time the square neck line of style D with the sleeves of A.

Now sort of acceptable.

Although the bust point is now too high and its still too loose under the bust, even with my adjustment.

However, let me tell you about the skirt.

It’s Burdastyle and I know what to do to Burdastyle to get it to fit first time.

I know. It’s just a pencil skirt. But still. Those panels are kind of nice.

This is Burdastyle 10/2016 #106

I drafted up one size to a 22 (the petite equivalent of a 44) at the hips and halfway between a 21 and 22 through the waist.

I made it up in a mystery fabric from deep in the stash that behaves like a wool, so probably is a wool or a wool blend. I don’t recall buying it, so it might have been my mothers. That means it’s at least 20 years old.

I love it! Much more than the Newlook top!

There’s something to be said for sewing from a pattern company that uses a pattern block that you know works for your measurements.

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , | 38 Comments

Pink lace top with black trim: BurdaStyle 02/2013 #135

An easy top to sew with a Chanel like vibe.

Not a lot more to say!

The lovely pale pink lace fabric was a remnant from my dear friend M of Nonsuch Sewing. The pattern is BurdaStyle 02/2013 #135.

I traced off a 40 and then did a 3 cm FBA. I removed the extra width the FBA created by grading down to the waist at the side seam.

The sleeve length was dictated by my fabric length. Two third length sleeves are perfectly fine, thank you very much!

Some poly satin black bias tape and a ribbon completed the look. No I didn’t follow Burda’s instructions and cut out a neck band and sew it on. Not when perfectly good satin bias tape was on hand!

Bam. Partnered with a new skirt of Felicity’s – new retro inspired outfit.

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Another African wax print dress: BurdaStyle 07/2011 #131

The two fabrics used in this dress are souvenirs from fabric shopping in Paris with Felicity last year.

The pattern is BurdaStyle 07/2011 #131 in a size 44 with the cap sleeves swapped out for regular sleeves from BurdaStyle 10/2012 #118

I moved the neckline up a few cm, and used my stipey square fabric on the bias for the side front panels.

The handsome Mr Bingley (Nonsuch‘s sewing assistant) helped me place the pattern pieces just right.

Other changes were a centre back zip and slits on the side seams.

I didn’t have a long enough zip, so I added a button and loop at the back neck.


This dress pattern now will enjoy a break! After 5 versions I think I need to try something else…

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Wattle shirt-dress: Burdastyle 06/2013 #103 pattern hack

Going to a fabric store with Felicity means discouraging the purchase of multiple lengths of novelty fabric. She still manages to get a least one every trip.

Last time it was quilting cotton with a wattle print.

While I moan and groan theatrically at the time, her fabric choices usually turn out okay.

This dress was based on a Burdastyle shirt dress 06/2013 #103 that I’ve used for Felicity before.

After making the normal full bust adjustment, I cut the bodice pattern pieces off at the waist.

The skirt back was a rectangle cut the width of the fabric (112cm).

I used the original pattern to curve up from the hip. I did the same for the two fronts, and cut the facing separate.

I added tucks by eye somewhat haphazardly, with about 2 to 3 cm in each tuck.

The tucks stopped about 10 cm from the side seams, so the dress was smooth under the pockets, and a few cm from the center front so the button band was flat.

The pockets are a great shape, which I highlighted with yellow silk bias trim.

And because I could, I finished the neckline with yellow bias too!

Cute buttons

Cute dress!

Posted in Sewing | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments