New Sewing Pattern – the Elliot Sweater & Tee by Helen’s Closet – tester make and finalised versions!

There’s a new sewing pattern launching today – you’ve probably seen – the Elliot Sweater & Tee from Helen’s Closet. I jumped at the chance to test this pattern for Helen; as again it has all the hallmarks of a closet staple; warm but not too warm – perfect as a layering piece for the transition into the colder months.

The raglan sleeved Elliot comes in three views; View A which I’ve made, features a high neck and has a high-low hem which frankly I love; it means I can pair it with leggings without feeling I’m revealing too much backside! That side slit also makes sticking your hands in your pockets easier and provides forgiveness around the hip. View B is somewhat cropped (great for high waisted bottoms) and View C is your everyday comfort tee. There’s 20% off during the launch week too! Read More

Blogger Book Tour : Wendy Ward’s ‘Beginners Guide to Sewing with Knitted Fabrics’ Book Review and Makes


I was delighted to be asked to join the Book Tour, following some of my favourite sewing bloggers, for Wendy Ward’s new tome ‘A Beginners Guide to Sewing Knitted Fabrics’. This was originally scheduled to happen earlier in the year but was delayed whilst the book went to reprint, as the original run sold out within two days!

I made two garments from the book by way of a review, the Monsal Lounge Pants and the Kinder Cardigan – patterns which have both proved very popular!

The book is split into two main parts, ‘Techniques’ and Projects’ and includes paper pieces for six basic pattern blocks which can be hacked and altered in a variety of ways to make many more. It is, as the title implies, a book intended for beginners, however, there is enough here for the more advanced sewist too.

My full book review post, which also details my Makes from it, has been posted as part of the second leg of the Tour schedule over on Minerva Craft’s blog HERE. I’ve summed it up quite succinctly, I think, with the title 😉

‘Don’t Want to Get Dressed But Have To? Then Make Something From This Book!’

Given that it’s been a while since I’ve made both these garments, I can tell you I’ve worn them a ridiculous amount! Secret Pyjamas for the win!!!! If you want a copy of the book there is, wink wink nudge nudge, a whopping 25% discount on the £12.99 cover price at until 21st April!

Also, if you haven’t already, you may also want to check out these reviews from the Tour so far :

What’s your favourite secret pjyama patterns?!

Until next time, happy sewing lovely peeps x

Sewcialise with me on Instagram here xx


My #sewtogetherforsummer Wrap Dress: the Appleton by Cashmerette



So I’ve sewn the first of my #sewtogetherforsummer wrap dresses; the Appleton by Cashmerette. I’m kicking myself for not trying this pattern sooner as it’s such a simple and quick sew yet is brilliantly drafted to ensure a really great fit.

I’ve sewn a few wrap dresses in my time (see McCalls 7119 here and here,  New Look 6301 and McCalls 6884 for example). I think one of the key reasons for wanting to make this years’ #sewtogetherforsummer challenge about the wrap dress stems from the fact that I’ve really struggled to find a traditional wrap dress pattern that does a passable job of fitting and flattering my bust line straight out of the envelope.

I can safely say that search is over.

Appleton Wrap Dress.jpg

To get the right fit, the Appleton requires a light to medium weight jersey with 50% crossways stretch. I fell upon this viscose and spandex blend fabric from Sew Essential; it’s on the lighter side of medium, has lovely drape and movement and handles beautifully. It’s black, with a grey and mushroom coloured floral motif – teeny but not too ditzy – that I thought would transition well day-to-evening depending on what footwear I was wearing! (I also love that you can purchase the fabric in increments of 1/2 a metre!)


Sew Essential also stock a paper copy of the pattern too, in case you don’t fancy tracing out the PDF!


The Appleton is your classic wrap dress with a low cut V wrap neckline; built-in waist ties and sleeve length options. It comes with different cup sizes – Yey! I cut a size 12 and the C/D cup. There is no seperate bodice piece; it’s simply front, back, bands and sleeve.

The amount of negative ease built into this dress at the bust means a lot of redrafting issues become moot; for example a 40” bust size has a finished measurement under 33” – the stretch in the fabric aiding the fit, together with the neck/front band and built in waist ties you’re ensured a snap finish at the bust…it really is secure!

In fact the only thing I did was to take a little out of the length and cut the sleeve so it fit just above my elbow.

Appleton Sewtogetherforsummer Wrap Dress.jpg

Dissolvable wash away wonder tape


You can get quite a different look with the dress depending on where you wrap the ties, at Empire height or at your natural waist. My only gripe really is I find that the hole to feed the ties through sits a tad high on me so that the ties start to wrap most naturally under the chest. Next time I’d contemplate moving the hole down a smidge. Oh and I like to use dissolvable double sided Wonder Tape to hold those seams nicely in place when it comes to finishing that hole at the side seam where the tie threads through!


There’s not much else I can say; it really is that easy to put together!

So that’s the traditional wrap dress made … I now find myself obsessing about the By Hand London ‘Orsola’ which wraps at the back and can be made in a woven. If you’re quick, we’ve still got a discount running on that pattern, plus others!

And did you see the dresses my #sewtogetherforsummer co-hosts have made? It was Monika’s ‘Orsola’ that got me craving the pattern…

And Suzy has made a gorgeous Sew Over It ‘Eve’ Dress…

I’ll be back very soon with our Burda and Big Four Wrap Dress Pattern Picks to inspire you; you can also read Helen of Helen’s Closet pick of the best Indie wrap dress patterns here.

Until next time, happpy Sewing!




Sewcialise with me on Instagram here xx

Sew Sarah smith

The Paro Cardigan by Itch to Stitch : Not my Finest Hour!

Mmmm, probably the less said the better, huh?!

Well it had to happen didn’t it. I’ve had a pretty good run with my sewing lately so Sod’s Law dictates I was due a Fail. This, my friends, is it; the Itch to Stitch ‘Paro Cardigan’.

In fairness, a lot of it probably is my fault. I blithely cut into to my fabric, which was stretchier than recommended, without making all of the adjustments I knew were probably necessary. I did size down to account for the extra stretch in the fabric but, looking at the finished measurements I knew I should probably grade and size down further in the waist and hip and I didn’t. I did go ‘as far’ as reducing the sleeve length but I also didn’t take anything out of the length of the bodice. Why? Well, I’m going to blame my momentary lapse in common sense on the onset of flu and the fact that I totally underestimated how much unflattering bulk those pleats would add.

Sew Sarah smith
It kind of looks Ok on Dummy doesn’t it?

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it’s enormous. I feel like a Matronly Battleaxe from another era in it; the kind I imagine gossiping over the garden fence whilst brandishing a rolling pin. It’s such a shame really as the fabric I used is truly lovely, a really soft drapey knitted poly blend which I’ve used before.


Anyhoo, you can read the full sorry saga over on the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network, especially if you want to avoid the pitfalls I made (there’s a decent cardigan in the Paro I’m sure!) or, y’know, if you just fancy a giggle!

Until next time



Sewcialise with me on Instagram here











Pattern Testing the Avery Leggings by Helen’s Closet

Leggings sewing patternHi all! You’ll have, in all likelihood, seen that Helen of Helen’s Closet has just released the brand new Avery leggings pattern? (And yes, these are the leggings I hinted at in my #2018MakeNine plans post!) They have a smoothing doubled waistband, a gusset for mobility and no side seam meaning this pattern would make a great base layer, yoga pants or your everyday leggings. I love pattern testing for Helen (see my Suki Kimono here); her ethos and work methodology rocks – she really does want to produce Patterns for everyday essentials drafted so they’re accessible for all both in terms of sizing and sewing skill set. Plus the other sewists in her pattern testing team are fabulous…I’m guaranteed to learn something from their collective wisdom and feedback in the testing process. So, yes! Spoiler alert : the Avery leggings are awesome! PLUS there is 20% off during launch week!

Line drawings Avery leggings Helen’s closet

View A is your classic look legging whilst View B has a high waist and extra long leg so they can be pulled over the heel. I wanted mine to be yoga pants (so I could re-join the ‘Yoga with Adriene’ brigade!)

I opted for View A. These were a timely make; when I cut my first (navy) pair I sized up. I was testing these straight after my Christmas binge eating marathon (that started in November, haha) and then recently cut my usual size in the neon coral. You ain’t going to miss me wearing those bad boys out and about! There are only four pattern pieces and one of those is the gusset, making the PDF really quick to print out and assemble. Depending on your size and the width of your fabric, they potentially only require 1m of fabric too!

Helen’s Closet PatternI had nothing in my, admittedly minimal, fabric stash that was suitable. This pattern requires a jersey with 70% stretch in both directions. I found myself scouring online stores for four way stretch jersey using keywords like ‘performance jersey’, ‘athletic’ or ‘activewear’ knits like Dryflex and Supplex to narrow down the results. I considered buying from the range at FunkiFabrics but in the end, as the service was speedier, I bought both my ‘sports jersey’ from Fabric Godmother (it was my first time ordering from them and I was super impressed with the service). It has a whopping 100% crosswise stretch and 80% lengthwise, is absolutely perfect for yoga/exercise pants and is described as a “breathable super stretchy poly/spandex fabric with a soft matt finish” (read: slight sheen). If you can’t find jersey in your stash with the 70% stretch requirement, you could possibly consider sizing up and lengthening your pattern pieces to achieve the right fit?

Sew Sarah smithBecause you’re working with a highly stretchy fabric, the pattern is designed with a fair amount of negative ease which makes them really easy to fit. I cut mine based on my waist measurement; even though I’m a size smaller in the hip, I figured the negative ease would prevent any potential baggy bum scenarios! I took nothing from the length, figuring I could determine this later.

They sew up in no time. I used a straight stretch stitch on mine as I find a zig zag just doesn’t cut it for me – I always sew a test seam on a piece of scrap fabric first and then try to pull it apart. I don’t want to see either thread or teeny holes appear in the stressed seam. A stretch stitch is a complete pain to unpick though so, if necessary to check for fit, I baste the seam first and then sew up. I did use the recommended tricot zig zag stitch though for the first time to decorate / finish the waistband and ankle seams. As well as being an incredibly functional stitch, I really like the way it looks.

The waistband is finished with half-inch elastic sewn in between the waistband and the waistband facing. Some of the other testers omitted the elastic and instead lined the facing piece with powermesh. Either way, these form fitting leggings have your assets covered and are staying up! Do check out Anya’s blog as I think she intends to show this method soon plus how to add a pocket to the waistband too.

I love the overall fit, there’s no dodgy areas of cling (you know what I’m talking about!) plus the gusset not only massively improves your potential range of movement (these leggings are more flexible than I am, haha), they also avoid that nasty inseam intersection thus reducing bulk and any potential for chafing.

Helen’s closetI need/want some more everyday wear pairs in a day-to-day jersey. In earthy colours. (If you know of just the fabric with the required stretch that remains opaque when stressed, could you point me in the right direction please and save me hours of cyber searching guesswork!?!) Plus I can’t wait to start sewing up my Halifax Hoodies to pair with these. Comfort City here I come!

  • You can find the pattern HERE
  • You can find the fabric I used HERE and HERE

Until next time, when I’ll be back with either my newly finished Deer & Doe ‘Melilot’ shirt or that Hey June ‘Halifax Hoodie’.

You can join me on Instagram HERE