The Matilda Shirtdress by Megan Nielsen : my first magazine article!

Sewing World magazine


Please indulge me – I wanted to share two things with you; my excitement over my first published sewing magazine article and it’s subject matter – my Matilda Shirtdress from Megan Nielsen! I popped along to the newsagents the other day and picked up the January edition of Sewing World magazine because… look! Inside there’s me! Appearing rather more put together than the version of me who stood outside the newsagents clutching said magazine in her be-gloved hands, wrapped up from head to toe and stamping her feet to avoid frostbite, it has to be said!

Sew Sarah smith husband

I received the email* asking if I would like to contribute an article way back in the summer of last year whilst I was in the States. (I remember running into the room where my husband was napping to tell him the news before turning on my heel and legging it back to the kitchen to pour myself about a pint-sized glass of wine to celebrate!)

I couldn’t start on the project until we’d returned to the UK and I ended up sewing it in a bit of a mad rush so I could wear it to the Great British Sewing Bee Live show in September. I think I submitted the article somewhere around the same time. And then had to do what I don’t do very well…keep schtum!

What’s the best sewing magazineAs for the magazine itself, I think Sewing World has had something of a rebrand lately; the styling and content is refreshing and looks clean and polished; much more likely to appeal to contemporary sewists, I feel. It’s got your usual mix of crafty makes thrown in too but even they look like projects suited to the modern sewer as well as your granny! Overall, I felt really honoured to have my own contribution within its pages!

I love all the possibilities Matilda offers to personalise the design – I merely opted to use contrast fabric peeking out from the inner collar stand and the underside of the breast pocket flap. Also, the instructions are fantastic; the Matilda is my first pattern from the Megan Nielsen collection and this is one reason it won’t be my last – I used the burrito method for the first time ever when sewing up the yoke following Megan’s instructions which made it an absolute doddle. Not forgetting there’s a full online sew-a-long for this dress too. It’s not a quick sew, by virtue of all the pieces, but it’s an immensely gratifying one. And of course it offers the option for lots and lots of lovely topstitching to emphasise the design lines of the pattern…I  lurve me some topstititching!

The full detailed review, as well as being published in the mag, has also now been published on the Minerva Craft blog, so you can head THERE to read it.

If you’re interested in the supplies I used, they were:

Megan Nielsen Matilda Shirtdress review

Matilda Shirtdress by Megan Nielsen
Wow, look…bare arms and not a woolly hat or scarf in sight!

I do love the dress and I highly recommend the pattern! Again, I feel I learned a lot making this dress but by no means do I think I perfected it but it’s not just for that reason I want to make it again! Again, you can access the full review and an online copy of the full article over on Minerva Crafts blog HERE.

Until next time, happpy stitching!

Find me on Instagram here

*I was sent all the supplies from Minerva Crafts to make the dress for the Sewing World magazine article. By no means has this influenced my judgement; any opinions I express are always 100% genuine. Scouts honour 😉

Pssst – Yey! There’s a 10% discount at Girl Charlee UK – just enter my promo code SEWSARAH at checkout!

The Seamstress Tag sewing sew Sarah smith

The Seamstress Tag

The Seamstress Tag sew Sarah smith

Hello lovely people. The Seamstress Tag (originated by Hollie Sews) has been popping up all over the place. I’ve suddenly found myself up through the night looking over my Pixie Princess as she recovers from illness; writing this is helping while away the dark hours. It’s just 12 questions so hopefully I won’t have time to bore you. Or more likely I will! But, c’mon, keep me company until daylight breaks. Oh and if you read this to the end, consider yourself tagged 😉

Who are you? I’m Sarah Smith, no surprises there hey? I’m a mother, sister, daughter, wife and friend. Political Science graduate. Chronic overthinker. I’ll eat mayonnaise with practically anything; partial to a glass of wine and a good book. Don’t speak to me before I’ve had my second coffee of the day. Oh and I’m rather fond of sewing. And by ‘rather fond’ I mean downright obsessed.

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When and why did you start sewing? When? I got my sewing machine about three years ago. Why? I’d thought about sewing for years; a little thought that bubbled up now and again only to disappear as Life Happened.  I spent years working and studying in London, moved from London to Devon, got married and concentrated on raising two children. It’s easy to become subsumed by the needs of your kids but for us it was exacerbated by additional issues which created an almost endless roll of appointments and evaluations. The stress definitely took its toll. (Apart from the odd hiccup, they’re both doing great!). When my husband asked what I wanted for my birthday that pivotal year, the words ‘sewing machine’ almost popped out my mouth unheeded. I remember being momentarily surprised not only by my response but at the conviction behind the words. The sewing machine was duly ordered and the rest, as they say, is history. In short, the why is that through sewing I’ve re-discovered an essential creative part of myself which allows me to claw back all-important sanity-saving ‘me time’; it’s my meditation, my therapy. That and, y’know, the fact that I get to make and wear custom-fit individual garments!

What is your favourite or proudest make? Generally the last successful one! I was very very happy with my Winslow Culottes by Helen’s Closet and Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files; my favourite patterns to date.

What is your most disastrous make? Hahaha this is easy! It was the first garment I ever attempted to make for myself; New Look 6298 I knew practically nothing about sewing and I’ve no idea what made me pick this particular pattern  (although I’ve kept it!) It required a stable knit. I used lightweight jersey. There’s about 13,736,241″ of ease built in to this pattern. Seriously, you could camp a family of five in there. And I botched up the V neckline. But it didn’t put me off. Not. At. All…an obsession was borne!

Bored yet?! It’s still dark outside so I’m carrying on!

Where is your favourite place to go fabric shopping? I tend to do most of my fabric shopping online; it’s too long a drive to the nearest shop. There’s a few I routinely check when trying to source fabric; Minerva Crafts primarily. Fabricland has generally low prices; great for wearable toiles.

What is your most used pattern? To date it’s New Look 6217 (I’ve written about it here) That said, I’m unlikely to make it again anytime soon – I’ve made 6! A few others are vying to be serious contenders! I’m looking for patterns that I can make multiples of as I’m wanting to build a wardrobe of everyday interchangeable staples at the moment. Suggestions for patterns of the same, greatfully received.

Your most dreaded sewing task is? Overlocking/serging around tightish curves. Who needs extreme sports when you’ve got that kind of adrenaline rush going on?! I think I know I’m meant to pinch out the curve and sew it in a straight line but yeah I need more practice to stop me breaking out into a sweat at that point; if you’ve any good tips, let me know!!!!

And your favourite sewing task? Anything that makes me feel like a Boss in doing it; with invisible / lapped zips and buttonholes being recent wins. I also like sewing long seams, it’s hypnotic. Wow I’m such fun!

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What is your favourite sewing entertainment? I don’t know about favourite but typically it’s just listening to the inane chirping of my own brain; latest example…I was fishing around on my magnetic pin holder trying to find a needle amongst the pins; there’s always two in there. My brain pops up with: I wonder how much time I waste trying to find this needle every time I sew? Should I apply nail polish to the end of it to make it more visible? How long would it take me to do this and let it dry? Is it worth investing this time now for future time saved? How much time have I spent thinking about this already? Do I need to offset this thinking time against time potentially saved in order to accurately evaluate the worthiness of this idea? infinitum. Welcome to my world. I do occasionally listen to podcasts when I’m tracing and cutting out because that’s too quiet and way too much thinking could happen. I’d appreciate some recommendations; they don’t have to be sewing related!

Printed or PDF? Both. I’m a new PDF convert. Why limit yourself?!

What sewing machine do you use? I use the Janome S52s – it’s a great starter machine with enough key features to see you through to the intermediate stage, I reckon. I like the idea of some computerised models but I worry the more flashy the model the more there is to go wrong. In fact, I quite like the idea of getting a really old Singer – the kind your Nana used to have; I hear they’re great for working with thick denim and the like.  I’ll stick with my Janome baby for now.

Processed with Snapseed.Any other hobbies?

This is my bookshelf. If I’m interested in something I’ll generally reach for a book on the subject and I love a great novel. This year I’ve reached for non-fiction books from subjects as diverse as  Tudor History to a biography on Elvis Presley; the novels of Patrick Hamilton and I was massively entertained by the ‘Robert Galbraith’s’ Cormoran Strike series. I just feel comforted having a book in the go. I used to draw and paint a lot; portraits mostly but my talent was middling. I had definite skill; I can copy others work, or work from photographs, but I couldn’t find my own ‘voice’. My Sister-in-Law is a great artist and there’s a big difference. However I also dallied with the idea of being a makeup artist for a while; I obviously just love faces! Not so much my own, admittedly!

I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I do venture outside! I’ve always loved horses and go riding when I can; I lived at the stables when I was younger but don’t go nearly as often as I’d like now. I’m trying to get the kids interested so I’d go more often…but so far they’re not obliging! And I like to go on long walks, and lay in bed on a morning and….sleep.

So, if I’m not running around after the kids or sewing, you will find me with my nose stuck in a book and, preferably, a nice glass of wine in my hand. Or, y’know, here on Instagram!

Thanks for bearing with me…it’s still dark out but one more coffee should see in daybreak. Oh, and remember, you’re tagged!

Until next time,

Sarah x