Shirring Elastic Gathering Tutorial.

I used this method when making my Deer and Doe Myosotis Dress which has gathering on the sleeves, waist and a ruffled tier at the hem. It was very successful, even for the 2.6 metre hem ruffle. No gathering in stages, pulling (breaking) threads or having to distribute the fabric. It produced really tight even gathers with no hassle!


The method uses two rows of gathered stitches using shirring elastic in the bobbin. I had previously used the Stitch Sisters Youtube tutorial on How To Use Shirring Elastic.


You will need to use ordinary thread in the top spool and shirring elastic in the bobbin. It is easier to remove at the end if you use a contrasting colour, but not essential. Increase the stitch length to at least 4mm.



Firstly, take note of the seam allowance for joining your gathered and non gathered pieces. You then need to stitch, using the shirring elastic approximately 0.5cm either side of this measurement.



My seam allowance to was 1.5cm, so the first row I stitched with a 1cm seam allowance and the second a 2cm seam allowance.  During the second line of stitching you will need to gently pull out the existing gathers in order to sew over flat fabric.


Then anchor the ruffled piece to the plain piece with pins, starting at the side seams and centres.


Then just stretch and pin until the gathered piece fits with the non gathered piece.


The gathers loosen but in a very even fashion. Now its time to join with stitching, so change the bobbin thread from elastic to matching thread, along with top spool if that is contrasting. (I forgot to do this and sewed up with elastic the first, time!) Also reduce the stitch length. 



Now you need to sew between the lines of elastic stitches you have just made, at your given seam allowance. This is where the gathers are neat and tight.


Then check your work. It may appear a little over gathered until you remove the elastic stitching. So, if you are happy, do this. Pull the elastic out, (in one go if you are lucky) then the thread will be released and easily cleared away. All that remains is to finish and press seam allowances.


I hope you find this as useful as I did. I really struggle with pulling threads and evenly distributing the gathers. This seems so easy in comparison and gives superb results.



Oh My! Myosotis Dress.

Ruffles galore and a heavy, drapey  viscose crepe. My  Deer and Doe Myosostis Dress is a success and I love it!


Not usually a shape I would go for, but so glad I made this dress. I have had this fabric for sometime and have seen it on several online shops. It’s a Lady McElroy, quite weighty and lends itself well to the look I was hoping for. I was inspired by Karen who has the blog  Did You Make That. She has made a few, and suggested drapey fabric. Others I have seen made from cotton have a more structured puffed out appearance.  I wanted a more relaxed boho. vibe. It think it will be a great cross seasonal piece as it looks good with tights and bare legs.



I really enjoyed the construction. It’s been a while since I made a woven dress and this was much easier and quicker than I anticipated. I made view A with all the ruffles!



I did lengthen the sleeves a few inches and unnecessary did a broad back adjustment. To be honest, I probably could have gone down a size, but I’m happy enough with the over all fit.  I went with a longer length, but will be happy to try another shorter version. My button holes were  a nightmare! I later discovered a piece of fluff in my bobbin compartment that I think was causing all sorts of tension issues. Also may have added to my buttonhole problems. It’s always something very simple when there is a tension problem, but  always takes an age to find!

All those ruffles were not a chore though. I  discovered a fab method for gathering the fabric that doesn’t involve pulling threads and spreading the gathers evenly. It came to me when using shirring elastic to repair a dress that I had bought in a charity shop last summer. I have a tutorial to share. It’s so simple and produces such great results.

Look how even those gathers are!


Southbank Sweater Dress


My latest sewing has been to use some black flocked leopard jersey fabric from Sewalicious. I had seen it on their Instagram post and had to have some! I ordered the fabric with a Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt in mind, but somehow it didn’t seem to lend itself. The fabric is a good weight, but not much drape, probably due to the flock that stabilises it. Also it really doesn’t stretch too much. I didn’t do stretch test, but it felt tight. So instead of a tried and tested Linden I went with a Nina Lee Southbank Sweater dress that I had no experience with at all!

I had a meter and half of fabric, so ditched the pockets, but then made a boo boo by cutting the bands on the fold (to save time!). However, I didn’t pay attention to what was going on with the under layer and discovered a large chunk missing. Whoops! I had no fabric left along the correct grain so used the only piece large enough (retrieved from the bin) and cut it along the grain.


It sewed up in the usual manner of a jersey top/dress and I mainly used my overlocker to do this. Recently I have had trouble getting a few layers, especially over seam junctions through the overlocker so opted to sew all the bands on with my standard machine and then neaten but not necessarily cut with my overlocker.

I did have doubts that the dress was big enough due to the lack of stretch and never having tried the pattern before, but once the bottom band was on it transformed into a lovely LBD.



Then I discovered my second boo boo! I had sewed the neck band on with seam at the front! Yep, looking directly at me in the mirror! Working with black in the evening has it’s perils, and I didn’t pay enough attention to what was back and front when I pinned it. I had no fabric left to put it right and having sewn it on with my lightening stretch stitch there was no way of getting it off anyway. I will only be wearing it at night and due to the print it really isn’t noticeable. You certainly won’t spot it on my picture. Sorry the quality is not great, but that has it’s advantages when there are minor flaws!


Flared Jeans.


These jeans have a back story!

Quite some time ago (maybe 2006) I had a pair of flared denim stretch jeans from Topshop and I loved them. They were sooo comfortable as they had a high waist and fitted very well. They looked good so why did I ever rid?! I imagine I looked a lot like Kate Moss in hers!

Image result for 2006 topshop flared jeans

With the recent trend towards the 70s I have wanted those jeans back and I haven’t found a replacement in any shops, so I decided to make my own. I started making a toile with some leftover denim, so I just made shorts.

I used the Seamwork Tessa jeans pattern as a basis for my new jeans they as they have a high waist to my amazement the fit was pretty much perfect with no adjustments.

So, I then went on to cut out my full length pair in a dark grey corduroy that was actually ear marked for a Tilly and the Buttons Cleo Pinafore, but I just couldn’t wait to get cracking and hadn’t seen the right denim. I only had 1.2m, so no back pockets and no margin for mistakes!

The Tessa jeans are not flared so I needed a guide to get that aspect sorted. For this I  merged on the legs from McCalls M747. I did toy with the idea of using this pattern entirely, but there are darts rather than a back yoke.

I didn’t want classic jeans pockets, so instead used the Rosari Skirt pattern square pockets by Pauline Alice. These were easy to stitch on and my top stitching just about passed!

I did have some problems with the fly zip fitting. In my toile I totally messed up, despite clear instructions by  Heather Lou from Closet Case Patterns on her great tutorial. It was great to make the mistakes then, as it meant the real thing went very smoothly in comparison! It wasn’t until I got to the waist band top stitching that I really struggled. My machine just kept jumping stitches and I had to stop and start multiple times and fill in gaps. I think I needed to pay more attention to grading my seams within the waistband to reduce bulk. Maybe a bigger needle would have helped too. I was using a size 100.

With all these problems I was really not holing out much hope for a half decent button-hole. I tried a couple of tests with similar bulk and it was infuriatingly useless. Damn and Blast were not the words I used when I continually tried testers and unpicked 3 attempts on the jeans themselves! I finally went with another Closet Case Patterns method to sew a manual buttonhole with a zig zag stitch. Successful enough.


So, I am very pleased with these jeans. I did need to tweak the flare shape a bit in the end and have no record of what I did there so will be in the same boat when I come to my next pair. I guess these are my very wearable full toile. If I make again in a stretch denim I am guessing they may need to be a bit smaller? Maybe I’ll stick with non stretch!

In the pictures I am wearing these jeans with my Adrienne Blouse from The Friday Pattern Company. Until now I haven’t known what to wear it with. I do now. Win win!

These were a very economical make. As I had credits from my Seamwork subscription to download the Tessa Jeans patterns. The Mccalls was a freebie with a sewing mag back along and I have previously made the Rosari skirt. Corduroy was from my stash. Really I didn’t need another pinafore right now.





Hi and welcome to my blog that has been a long time in the making! It wasn’t lack of content, but knowledge of how to set this whole thing in motion! Who knew blogging is so tricky? So, if you are reading this it’s nothing short of a miracle!

I am intending to write mainly about sewing projects, but may slip in a few other makes. I am currently knitting and have recently made macramé wall hangings and plant hangers.

I am primarily the mother of two teenage boys, and live with them, and my other half in Devon UK. I work three days a week as a specialist nurse, and the rest of the time try to cram in as much sewing and making as I can. My brain is constantly aching with the need to get things cut out and there is a continuous queue of makes. My inspiration comes mainly from the online sewing community I found on Instagram.

I have always sewn. With my mum as a child, we would make dolls clothes, she also taught me to knit, crochet, and cook. In the past 10 years or so, since going part time at work, I guess my production in all things handmade has increased. I really love the feeling I get when I’ve created something from scratch. I have often felt a little embarrassed about my handmade life. Many people cannot see the point, and I do think there is still an old fashioned “spinster type” label that goes along with sewing to those who “just don’t get it.” However, many people are very impressed and I’m hoping by sharing my makes here I can give inspiration and connect with like minded people. It may help me not to feel apologetic for my fabulous hobby!