Souvenir T-shirts are nice, but souvenir fabric is the best

I’ve been on the most glorious holiday to the UK. Some quality souvenir shopping was done. You would think I would come home and immediately sew some of it. Or perhaps some of the souvenir fabric from Madrid from my last trip that I wrote about in my last post?

But no.

Even older souvenir fabric was still waiting to be sewn.


This wax print fabric comes with lots of lovely memories of being in Montmartre with Felicity last year.

It’s a striking colour, has great body, and who doesn’t want a frock with a pot or two or twenty on it?


This was not the easiest fabric and design to match to a pattern, and then to cut out. I had some misgivings about a large jug and pot on the bodice front.

All three of the different pots in the design found their way onto the dress –  even if the small round ones feature only on the back shoulders!


A rich brown regular dress zip was the exposed zip feature. I stabilized the edge of the knit under bodice with iron-on interfacing. Yes that’s a little bit of the facing showing at the top of the zip, and I did use a piece of hat (?) elastic for the button loop.


The over bodice edges were self faced, and trimmed with cream premade bias binding from the stash, as were the seams. Can’t accuse me of not finishing this dress off nicely!


This really is a fabulous pattern BurdaStyle 12/2013 #130. I’ve used it before, in its full length glory, for a formal dress for both Felicity and for myself.


The skirt has a tulip shape due to the deep inverted pleats at the waist. I love the way it phloofs out. As well as looking great, there is plenty of room for pockets.


I did intend to turn up a narrow hem, but Felicity loved in with its selvedge sentence. So that’s the way its staying.


Now that’s out of the way, let me tell you about my much more recent souvenir fabrics!

TMOS (The Man Outside Sainsburys) in Walthamstow Market did not disappoint. Plus M and I had a bonus unplanned meet up with Karen of Did You Make That?

TMOS walthamstow market1

I bought a print woven rayon and a solid silk jersey. One of the side shops selling all manner of trims also tempted me with their cute pink embellished buttons.

Other London fabric purchases were from Raystitch. I came home with my own pieces of fabrics used in display garments in the shop: the navy and cream linen cotton of the dress on the left and a grey irish linen wool blend of the dress on the right.


A few patterns also made their way into my suitcase from Raystitch and Sew Over it. What fabulous shops both of these are!

Leicester exceeds expectations with its marvellous Richard III exhibition and museum. Plus we stumbled upon two fabric stores in the centre. Just like that! Without even trying!


Shop #1, Crafty sew and so, had the most delightful triple crepe (the solid colours at the back of the photo). I wanted to bring at least three of them home, but common sense prevailed and I finally settled on red and nothing else. Still wish I had some of the teal. And the purple..

Shop #2, Material Magic, won my heart with an embroidered medium weight grey wool. The coffee shop afterwards was good too.


And I am saving the best to last.

Linton Tweed.

linton tweed

All these lovelies were shipped home to me by the fabulous Linton Tweed staff.

Why so many? Well.

They had 1 metre length at two for the price of one, and  remnant box of almost 1 metre lengths for 5 pound.

Resistance was futile.


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Fabric shopping in Madrid, another cocoon coat and another Bella

I’m sorry to report that the strawberry thief shirt has not been progressed since I posted last.

I have two excuses.

Excuse 1

I had a work trip to Salamanca in Spain. I didn’t take my sewing machine with me.


Playa Mayor, Salamanca, 8 PM (before dinner, of course!)

However, my accommodation in Madrid en-route to Salamanca was fortuitously located very close to these two fabric shops;  Ribes y Casals and Tejidos y Novedades Paredes.

Ribes y Casals had a large selection of fabrics and fabulous haberdashery and notions. This is just a small part of their Prym wall. So jealous of such accessibility to such a great range!


Their trim selection was pretty good too.


Some of that multi coloured daisy trim came home with me

Two fabrics at Tejidos y Novedades Paredes won my heart too



You can see I went for practical fabrics that will effortlessly slot into my everyday life..

I love sewing souvenirs!

Excuse 2

I’m going away again soon!  Sewing a travel wardrobe has taken precedence.

I needed a coat.

My local bricks and mortar store, Spotlight, had a lovely polyester wool coating that was the perfect weight and drape for an unlined coat. I wasn’t the only Australian sewist thinking this way. Christy (Clever Tinker) made a great Sapporo coat  and Carolyn (Handmade by Carolyn) made a delightful Sydney jacket (as seen on her instagram feed)


This is Burdastyle 12/2011 #114. I swapped out the zip for a button band.


It’s definitely boule shaped!  I feel like Aunt Fanny from Robots.


The pattern placement was less than ideal through the centre back seam, and not quite symmetrical. Slapdash sewist that I am, I’ve decided I can live with it – it helps that it’s on the back..). The horizontal pattern matching it pretty good though!


I also needed another Bella dress. This one is made from a very stretchy drapey ITY polyester knit from Spotlight with a solid navy  trim of bought bias binding at the neck.

20170820_043813084_iOS With the sleeves pushed and held in place with navy tabs, it should work when the weather is warmer.


With sleeves down, hands in pockets and tights I’m ready for cooler days.


And with a jacket and heels I’m ready for a night out. If it’s cold, I hope that tights and sandals are not considered the same as socks and sandals by the fashion police…

Where am I going? To England for a whole month of holidays, with He who Cooks, M of Nonsuch Sewing and her lovely husband Ken. We start in London at the beginning of September and end in Edinburgh at the end.

Yes we do plan to visit some fabric shops on the way. Anyone interested in a meet-up? In London? Bath? Oxford? Leicester? York? Richmond? The Lake District? At Linton Tweeds? (Yes, we are going to the showrooms and shop in Carlisle! He who Cooks is also the best itinerary planner ever).

I’ll return to the Strawberry Thief shirt soon.


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Bella Dress #2 and #3

I knew I couldn’t stop at just one. Such a satisfying pattern!


Bella Dress #2 is  for me. I added an infinity scarf made from the leftover metrage, inspired by Lara from Thornberry. It’s a good way to get rid of scraps!

#2 was made from a light weight ponte bought online some time ago from Gorgeous Fabrics. Construction wise, I treated this like a woven (straight stitch) apart from the sleeve and dress hems. They got the double needle treatment.

I finished the neck edge with purchased poly cotton bias tape and stabilized the shoulder seam with a satin ribbon

Without the scarf, the neckline is a gentle bateau shape.


The “wrong” side of the fabric is a lovely solid blue so this dress goes  from bracelet to elbow length in six seconds!

And then back to bracelet length for a photo with my “little” boy.


Taller than me! Even when I am in heels!

Keeping with the family theme, the next Bella was for Felicity.


We love those pockets!


Bella #3 was made from novelty sweat shirting from my local Spotlight store.



I finished the neck on this one with purchased bias tape too, but didn’t need to stabilize the shoulders – not much stretch in this fabric.

I used bias tape on the sleeve hems too. Because I could. And it’s pretty!


We could not resist the Dalek reference. Daleks come in a rainbow version don’t they? If not, they should.


Side view. Yes it really is a sack dress.


Back view


No complaints about pattern placement ( yet…)

And the obligatory twirl!


Am I done with this pattern yet? Well, no, I’d like to make a linen version and a drapey viscose version, and… but I have other sewing lined up.

Such as a Liberty strawberry thief shirt for me.

I started with the collar and I am very happy with how it’s looking.


I used Heather Lou’s (Closet case patterns) thread tail method for the collar points. It’s brilliant!  Also, taking care cutting out so I avoid comments about pattern placement from my hyper vigilant daughter might have helped…


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Vegetable jacket: BurdaStyle 11/2014 #110

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you might have noticed I have a weakness for IKEA fabrics. Dresses instead of curtains. Skirts instead of upholstery. That sort of thing.

When faced with this


Instead of thinking cushions like most sensible peolpe do.

16x16 Ikea Farmers Market Fabric HEMTREVNAD Pillow Cover with Insert, Throw, Couch, Bed, Fun, Colorful, Veggie, Vegetable, Unique, Kitchen

image from Beego Homemade

Felicity and I thought jacket.

And she requested one as a birthday present.

Happy Birthday darling!


This is BurdaStyle 11/2014 #110

I’d made this pattern for myself, so I already have a 42 traced off, with a few tweaks. Felicity tried on my version and I worked out it could sort of fit her with a bit pinched out the back.. And it would cut up the pattern less if I eliminated the waist seams.

You know, this was novelty print. Proper pattern adjustments and seaming were not justified…Slapdash sewist? Guilty as charged.

Not totally slapdash, because I added a lovely aubergine coloured faux suede collar and lined it with lovely soft white fleece.


And I added patch pockets


Although,  I have to wonder what sort of monster have I created. She said ‘what sort of pattern placement is this mum?’

Its always good to have lots of leafy greens….

RTW, be very afraid.



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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.




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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..





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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…

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