Big 4 vs indie patterns 

When I first started to sew I would never have touched a “big 4” (McCalls/New Look/ Butterick/Simplicity) pattern because they have a bad reputation. A reputation for being complicated, for the sizing being far too big and the instructions being sparse. 

Burda #6849

However lately I’m becoming frustrated by indie patterns. Everything is easy, or fast to sew, or has very little in the way of interesting details. If you look at rtw there’s all sorts of little extras that enhance the garment (pin tucks, buttons, pleats). I also find they’re exorbitantly expensive in comparison to the big 4. You might get one or two views if you’re lucky compared to 3/4/5 on a big 4 pattern. And they’re a lot cheaper too. Roughly around £7/8 compared to £13/14 for an indie. 

McCalls M7387

I also find that the independent companies are regurgitating old designs and a lot of the easier patterns you will definitely find in a Burda/McCalls version at half the price. One designer that I feel doesn’t do this as much is Closet Case and Grainline. However I do feel that Sewoverit are very expensive and relatively classic designs. 

On advantage the indies do have is that the instructions are far superior. They use little tricks to enhance the finish, a big 4 pattern seems to have a lot more needless handstitching, especially in shirtmaking. 

Having said that I find myself edging over to the dark side more and more. Especially as Minerva Crafts have a massive sale on with patterns for £3.50 at the moment!

Are you entirely indie or big 4 or a mixture?

Another Anna

Hello! I’ve broken up for summer now and thoroughly enjoying spending some quality time with Emily (who’s now toddling around and developing a hilarious personality). This past weekend we went to one of my oldest friends wedding and so I decided to make a dress. 

It was originally meant to be a wrap dress which I drafted a pattern for. It ended up really low cut (like REALLY low cut) and as I don’t have much sewing time at the minute as I’ve been marking papers for the exam board I needed a dress fast. I decided to make another By Hand London Anna dress. It’s fast as it’s unlined and comes together really quickly. 

I wanted to use some of my stash fabric up instead of buying more so I used this Merchant and Mills pale pink cloud linen. Which was a MASSIVE pain to sew. It has a really loose weave and I don’t think it’s going to last long. Already the fabric is pulling at the darts which is frustrating as it wasn’t cheap. 

It was red hot at the wedding so I’m glad I was wearing a light and airy fabric. It turned out perfect for the day. 

Looking back I wish I’d gone for something a little more complex and special but at least this way I have a dress I can wear more than once! 

I loved getting dressed up for the day and really enjoyed the wedding, although I may have drank a little too much prosecco and ended up really drunk by 7pm! I had a hangover before we even got home. 

Evidence of said prosecco. I love a good wedding!

2017 makes (so far)

I thought I’d share what I’ve made so far. Most of my garments don’t get blogged unless I have a lot to say. I usually don’t have many fit adjustments to make and so it would make a very short and boring list! However for those of you that don’t follow me on Instagram (whatamymade if you’re interested) here’s what I’ve made this year so far. Apologies in advance for some rubbish photos – this is why I don’t get much blogging done!


By Hand London Kim dress in polycotton from Minerva Crafts – finished just awaiting a zip. 

Self-drafted Cami in fabric from Sewoverit

Sorry for the crappy instastory photo – I’ve made this and not worn it yet! Sewaholic Alma with a hacked button band. 


Sewoverit Ultimate trousers – love the fit!

Grainline Lark tee and Pauline Alice Rosari skirt

Named Inari tee dress

Harriet Bra


McCalls M7387 shirt dress in Atelier Brunette fabric 


Tilly & the Buttons Cleo

Sewaholic Alma blouse


Pauline Alice Turia dungarees 

Grainline Alder 

Currently I’ve made 12 garments in 5 months. Which is not bad going considering I work 4 days a week and have been teaching a dressmaking class, copy your clothes and an overlocker class at Simply Solids. Oh and I have a 17 month old baby!! I’m not as proflic as some sewists who’ve made this many garments in a month however I’m trying to be mindful about what I make rather than churning makes out for the sake of it. 

Oh and my resolution to not buy any fabric? Lasted 6 weeks!!! Argh!

Summer of basics

Karen over at Fringe Association is hosting the Summer of Basics where you sew or knit 3 garments over 3 months. The deadline is the 31st August which leaves me plenty of time… well you’d think so except I have to mark 150 exam papers in between. Luckily I finish work at the end of June so I’m hoping to squeeze some sewing time in. 

Seeing as I can’t knit for toffee I’m going to be sewing all 3 items. Depending on how pushed for time I am I will be sewing either:

  1. Cascade duffle coat in red wool blend (all I need is lining and the toggles)
  2. Republique du Chiffon Suzon blouse in white dobby cotton (from the stash)
  3. Polka dot Ultimate trousers (already made)

Or if I manage to get a lot more sewing done than expected then I’ll be making:

  1. Cascade duffle coat
  2. Burda chambray shirt (already cut out but not started sewing)
  3. Ginger jeans in cone mills denim (ordered but not arrived yet)

I already have a muslin of the jeans which need a massive swayback adjustment and to go down a size however the denim is coming from Canada. So we shall see! I’m looking forward to getting my coat finished for autumn (let’s face it coat weather is never really done in the uk) and having more of my to sew list completed! If you’re interested it currently looks like this:

One of my favourite things about finishing a project is deleting it from my list! #geek

Favourite patterns 

I thought I’d share my favourite/TNT patterns with you;


Named peg trousers

They’re so comfortable with the elasticated waist but look really put together. Great for work!

Woven Dress

By Hand London Anna dress

Due to the lack of a lining it makes the Anna a really quick and satisfying make. 

Runner up: Tilly & the Buttons Lilou dress

Jersey dress

Colette Moneta

Secret pyjama territory! Easy to wear and perfect for work or the weekend. 

Woven top

Sewaholic Alma blouse 

I love the fit of this blouse and the Peter Pan collar is perfect 👌🏻 I wear these a lot for work. 

Jersey top 

Grainline Lark tshirt 
I love the Lark tee, the fit and style is great and they’re so easy to wear. I live in these come the weekend! I wore these a lot when pregnant but still wear the same ones now. 


I LOVE shirtdresses. I think they are my most favourite thing to wear and make. My favourite has to be McCalls M7387

It’s easy to wear and really comfortable. I love the kimono sleeve with bands and the collar doesn’t have a stand and so is dead easy to sew. 

Runner up: Grainline Alder Shirtdress

Comes up really short on me so I don’t feel as comfortable wearing it. One of the things I learned from MMM17 was; I don’t like revealing outfits or not feeling comfortable. 

What are your favourite patterns?

Me Made May 2017

This is the first year I’ve been able to participate in MMM, last year I was breastfeeding and limited to what I could wear and the year before I was pregnant and already limited as to what I could fit into!

I’m enjoying it so far, my favourite clothes are all me made and so it’s been easy to get dressed. Prior to me Made May I honestly would’ve told you that my clothes were mainly grey and blue. I didn’t realise quite how much colour I wear and enjoy wearing!

I haven’t managed to take pictures of every outfit and thinking of new ways to take the photo is the real challenge! I haven’t identified any wardrobe gaps yet, just make more of what I love and embrace the colour (something I clearly don’t have trouble with but my fabric stash is not particularly colourful!). 

I’m starting to run out of my favourite me mades now and debating some repeats or wearing the clothes I’m not in love with anymore. 

Pauline Alice Rosari skirt

I’ve been wanting a button down skirt for about a year now. I bought one from Prinark but it didn’t fit right and it was way too short. I always planned on making a Rosari skirt (it was on my make 9 list) but it was originally going to be yellow corduroy. I ended up using my corduroy to make a Cleo (unblogged) and so decided to make a denim one instead. 

I really enjoyed making this skirt. It came together almost without a hitch. However as I was attaching the waistband I realised it was 2 inches too short! I was between sizes – the 36 was an inch too small on the waist and the 38 would be an inch too big. I went for the 36 graded to a 38 at the hips. I reduced the seam allowance by 1cm on each seam (3 in total) but that didn’t explain the massive gap. 

I ended up cutting a new waistband at a size 40 – 2 sizes bigger! I’ve no idea why there’s such a difference. There is supposed to be 3cm seam allowance for the front of the waistband and so the reduction in seams doesn’t explain the gap. The same thing happened when I made the Port trousers (also by Pauline Alice) which makes me think perhaps a drafting issue but no one else seems to have had a problem. 

I went for a contrasting topstitching thread because I love topstitching. It’s just so satisfying! 

I used Liberty fabric for the pockets leftover from a Violet blouse I made (also unblogged).

I had an absolute nightmare with the buttonholes. I used topstitching thread and they look atrocious. At least the button covers it!
The buttons come from eBay. They were dirt cheap and you can tell. I’ve had to buy a load of new zips for old handmades because buying cheap doesn’t last. I should know this by now!

Excuse the wrinkles but I’ve been wearing it all morning!

I’m wearing my Rosari skirt with a lark tshirt.