April Rhodes Staple Dress: Nailed.

Are you suffering from Januaryitis? I know I am. I feel like shell of my normal self. All I want to do is sleeeeeeeeeep. I should be making myself pyjamas and bed jackets, but instead I have been steadily making lots of summer clothes in the depths of winter. I made these dresses just before Christmas and wore the chevron one on Christmas day: I actually find a light cotton dress with shirring round the tummy is ideal for being stuffed with food and drinking sherry. I have promised myself to make more seasonally appropriate clothes from now on. At least I will do when I have the energy to sew something. This is terrible. I think I must be ill if I can’t muster up enthusiasm for sewing.

So in my current state of extreme laziness I will just post up loads of pictures. It’s a great pattern. I recommend it. Also, I did my first shirring and it’s REALLY FUN.

Under a railway bridge in Birmingham. Perfect modelling location.

Under a railway bridge in Birmingham. Perfect modelling location.


Here I am modelling the frock (and freezing my tits off) on a dodgy side road in Elephant and Castle. I’m not sure why it looks so pointy round the boob area: despite the cold those really aren’t my nipples, and there are no darts. I think I just didn’t pull it down properly.


I don’t know why I look so unimpressed here: look how excellent this dress is! (It’s in Michael Miller quilting cotton: Chic Chevron).

Three whole lines of super fun shirring!

Three whole lines of super fun shirring!


I added a couple of inches of width into the biggest size in this version (I made the floral polycotton one above first, and it was a bit tight around the bum when I put my hands in my pockets) and a couple more inches of length into the bodice.


It works with or without a belt though I think with three lines of shirring I prefer it with a belt. I only did one line on the polycotton below as it was already a bit short and the shirring was pulling up length. I think that version looks better beltless.


Can we just take a moment to appreciate my amazing cardi? My mum knitted it for me for Christmas from a vintage pattern she found in a charity shop (she has a plain burgundy one for herself too) and it is the best. I have only taken it off since I got it for washing. I love it, and it goes very nicely with this dress. I love my mum ❤


Thanks Mum!

The pattern is great and goes together easily. I will definitely be making more next summer.  It does look nice with a thin long sleeve t-shirt underneath for coldr weather, in an awesome kind of 90s indie way which I wholeheartedly embrace. I will however try and make some clothes that are more suitable for winter from now on. Or at least I will when I am cured of Januaryitis. But for now back to bed……… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz







Nautical Imagine Gnats Alder Skirt and a made up top



What’s an alder? Loads of patterns seem to be called alder. I don’t think anything is called alder in the UK.



Anyway, I made an awesome if slightly unflattering skirt from boat print fabric. I used the Imagine Gnats alder pattern and some lovely chambray and a bit of some handwoven cotton for the contrast fabric. I made it with the bulging pockets because I was fascinated by them.




They do make your waist look smaller, but they also make you generally wider, and my mum kept thinking I was wearing an apron. I don’t mind that, but I think next time I make it, and I will make it again, I will make the flat pocket version. I like the triangular inverted pleat at the front: there is a version you can make without it, but I think it’s a cute detail.

awkward selfie to show off pleat

awkward selfie to show off pleat

When I make it next, I will also cut a size smaller: it comes up HUGE! I used a much smaller piece of elastic at the back and gathered the fabric a lot more than I was supposed to but it was still massive! I did secretly like being too small for something though 😉


I will also make it about three inches longer. The pattern has options for doing this, but despite being tall I ignored this. It came up a bit short (even with me adding decorative contrast binding round the bottom which isn’t part of the pattern but which I like) so I will make it a bit smaller and longer.

All the topstitching

All the topstitching, neat in places, not in others…..

All the seams are topstitched which I think is super nice. It’s a really cool pattern: hooray for Imagine Gnats. I like how the patterns have ample opportunity for playing with patterns and colours, and am looking forward to making the Bess top soon.I also like the large size range (the skirt goes up to 22 which is what this is) and the fact the sizes come up large. I reckon size 24 to 26 could fit in this with the elastic at the waist.


The top is sort of self drafted, ok it isn’t. I copied an RTW vest I liked and then attached the Moneta sleeves to it. The joys of knit when you can just bodge things into place. The sleeves didn’t quite fit so I added a couple of pleats at the shoulders to poof them up a bit and give me the shoulders I wasn’t born with! It’s made from the same fabric as my first successful Moneta, and it very snug and very useful.

'Drafting' LOLZ

‘Drafting’ LOLZ

And there we are: a jaunty summer outfit just as it starts to get really cold. PERFECT!

Doing the polka with Violet


I made a BlueGingerDoll Violet to go back to work in. I thought, if I’m not exactly feeling dotty about going back to work after two weeks off, I can at least look dotty. Here she is!

All the dots

All the dots

And here am I modelling her in a stairwell…

IMG_1741 IMG_1754

Pretty awesome hey? I used some super cheap super interesting double border print knit stuff that is as light as candy floss and sticks to everything with any kind of rough texture. It’s kind of like the soft bit on velcro. I found this out when I got it stuck to the scratchy bit of a piece of velcro. Boy did this stuff grip on. As you can imagine it was pretty horrible to sew with, though not as horrible as I feared. I guess I’m used to sewing with cheap floppy slippy knits now! As per the very good instructions I reinforced shoulder and some other seams with stay tape, though I used clear plastic elastic instead of he recommended unstretchy tape for the waist band seam: a girl’s got to be able to eat lunch you know. I cut size 20 at the shoulders grading to size 24 at the waist and hip which was good. The waist is actually about 5 inches too small technically, but I like a snug fit! I didn’t lengthen the bodice piece which was silly seeing as I am 5 foot ten with a long torso and big boobs that the fabric has to travel over, so I ended up adding in a three inch piece of black ribbing at the bottom of the bodice piece. I like this, it’s like a belt without a buckle and looks quite slimming. When I make this dress again, I would add about 3-4 inches into the bodice piece.


As you can see I had a lot of fun playing around with the double border print fabric using its shrinking and growing dots to a pretty ‘jazzy’ effect! The Violet has lots of different pieces (i.e two yoke pieces, a bodice piece and a skirt piece on the front) which allow you to colour or pattern block like crazy. I used different size dots for different pieces using the smallest ones at the middle to hopefully optimistically create a sort of  slimming effect. One thing that I found very off about this fabric was that it stretched lengthways instead of horizontally, so there is very little ease/movement in it when sewed up using the dots as I did. It would look odd to have the dots getting smaller or larger horizontally wouldn’t it? It works though, and hasn’t stretched downwards yet.

Deformed shoulders pose

Deformed shoulders pose

I combined the back yoke and back bodice piece to make one piece at the back, so it wasn’t too fussy. (Ha you say, are you kidding yourself? It’s got aaalll the dots all over the place!).I did a ribbing t-shirt style collar binding to match my tummy ribbing, though you can use the main material. My neckline had stretched out rather a lot in the handling of it so I would definitely recommend stay stitching it at the beginning, especially if you are using a light weight fabric. I didn’t actually bother doing the signature ruching at the bust because I thought it would make the neckline too low for work. I will do it in the next version but I will make the neckline slightly higher and cut a slightly thicker bit of ribbing for the neckline binding.

Twin needling on this fabric was pretty horrid, especially because I didn’t want the skirt to be too short so used a tiny hem allowance. The hem is a bit wobbly in places….

Please avert your eyes

Please avert your eyes

But the fabric is busy enough to let me get away with it. I really like this pattern and will definitely make another. I have one MAJOR problem with it though. It comes with different sleeve lengths and a pencil as well as full skirt option (this is the full skirt, long sleeves option, obvs). I was surprised to see that even with full sleeves and full skirt, this pattern was said to only need 1.6 metres of 150cm wide fabric. I had this in a different ikat style jersey print, and folded this on a double fold as the pattern recommended, and there was NO WAY my pattern pieces would fit on it. The skirt piece would not fit on at all, let alone have room to spare as the layout suggested. I ended up using about 2- 2.5m (hard to tell as I cut it up weirdly due to pattern placement). Has anyone else had this problem??


Otherwise, I think the Violet is a grand pattern. I feel very smart in the dress, and it is super comfy. If you haven’t already….Make one! And tell me about it!

Oh, can we just take a moment to appreciate my pretty new shoes….


Thanks bye!

Happy New Year wonderful people!

Wahey it's 2015!

Wahey it’s 2015!


It’s a whole new year! I wish you all the very tippety toppity best for a marvellous 2015. I am not going to do a year in review post as I have only really been sewing for 6 months of that, and quite frankly, I couldn’t choose which of my ‘creations’ I like the best, and I couldn’t describe any of them as ‘misses’. They are all misses in one way or another because I am a beginner with a lot to learn, and I am already looking at my earlier makes and laughing with horror at the seam finishes and bodges I made. But on the flip side they are all total hits to, because well, I MADE THEM! And that’s so fucking awesome! I have learnt sooooooo much in 2014 and my sewing has come on in leaps and bounds. And I am well and truly hooked. That’s a real hit! I haven’t ever had a hobby that has appealed to me as much as sewing does: I usually pick up a new fad, get really enthusiastic, and drop it again in a couple of months. Sewing looks like it is here to stay. I certainly hope it is: I have a looooooot of fabric now……

The heaving box

The heaving box

Which leads me on to resolutions. Half of me wants to call this ‘resewlutions’ but the other half of me hates myself for being so naff. Anyway, here they are…..



LOOK AT IT! And that’s not nearly all of it. I can say that I stuck to my aim of not buying any more clothes until 2015. I’m proud of this. What I’m not so proud of is that I have just replaced my clothes buying addiction with an even more extreme fabric buying one. It’s got out of control. A new parcel arrives with a shiny new fabric every few days. It’s embarrassing. I’m a complete magpie. I decided a few months ago that I wasn’t going to buy any new fabrics in 2015 until I had used up a lot of my stash. Very good you might think, but what this led to was even more frantic hoarding over the last couple of months. “But what if I need to learn to sew with denim in 2015?” KERCHING! Bought. “Will I be able to cope going all year without knowing what double gauze is like to sew?” KERCHING! Bought. “I’ve got so many woven fabrics, but not nearly as many stretch knits and they are the comfiest. Are you really going to spend all year in starchy wovens?!” KERCHING! Bought. And so on and so on. So I am now NOT BUYING any more fabric until I have SIGNIFICANTLY reduced my stash. There is too much to even count, so I will judge that I can buy more fabric when I have wmptied out that big trunk and a couple of shelves. Exceptions to the fabric stash fast: I can buy lining fabrics etc if, and only if they will be used to create an item using stash fabric that can’t be made without them.

This will be emptied

This will be emptied

2: If and when I do buy more fabric in the future, I will try to only buy good quality, preferably ethically made fabric, or even better buy fabric second hand from charity shops.  In my crazy fabric buying sprees, particularly in the early days, I bought loads of cheap polycottons and things that were cute, and a bargain, but not very nice to wear. So My new motto will be quality, not quantity. I don’t won’t to build up another stash like this and I want to sew with nice fabrics.

My first quilt square in progress

My first quilt square in progress

3: I will use up my scraps. I took a quilting course at Beyond Fabrics the other day for this very purpose. It was very pleasing and I have a metre of wadding to play with. I’ll either make a throw, or some more padded quilt squares to use for serving food etc. I’ll also make lots of clothes for small people, and pants, and other small things. I can’t bear to throw my scraps away, so they will be put to good use. I’ve got a lot of them…..

Two big boxes of these scrappy beauties

Two big boxes of these scrappy beauties

4: I will improve my hand sewing. I have booked myself onto an embroidery course at Hampton Court Palace (swish!) to try and find a love of this. And now is the time to say A HUGE THANK YOU to a mystery person who gave me my Secret Sewing Santa present. I don’t know who you are, but you are SOOOO thoughtful! I got an embroidery hoop, gorgeous coloured embroidery threads and muslin and this cryptic card…..

So thoughtful, so mysterious!

So thoughtful, so mysterious!

Thank you SO MUCH secret santa! And thanks also to Lisa from Stitched up from the Start for organising such a nice thing 🙂

5: I will perfect the art of grading up patterns. As a plus sized sewer, this is still unfortunately a necessary skill as most patterns don’t come in my size. I have a pattern cutting course starting in a couple of weeks which I am hoping will give me some real insight into how patterns work, and how they can be amended. Wish me luck!

6: And finally, I will sew: trousers with a zip, a coat, and a proper shirt with buttons. Also, I will sew some nice things for my very patient husband who takes all my blog photos and allows me to commandeer the dining room table with all my sewing things. Robin you are awesome, and I will make you those jazzy shorts xxx

And that’s me! What are your resewlutions (I did it!) for 2015?? Tell me all!

P.S, this is me, in front of my stash, showing how I really feel about not being able to buy more fabric. BUT I WILL BE STRONG!!

Poor me. No new shiny things.

Poor me. No new shiny things.

HAPPY 2015!!!