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

A Polka ‘Cheyenne Tunic’ by Hey June Handmade … and a little bit about French Seams

Hello again!

I seem to be on something of a blogging roll!! I finally got around to cutting out this Cheyenne Tunic by Hey June Handmade; I’d been meaning to sew it for weeks only I succumbed to ‘the fever’ that was sewing my Luzerne Trench Coat instead. But now I’ve sewn one Cheyenne, let me just cut to the chase and say I want half a dozen more of them!

This is the third pattern I’ve sewn from the Hey June catalogue (see their Halifax Hoodie and the Kensington dress I made for my daughter) and again I’m really pleased with the attention to detail in their drafting and instructions. This is such a wearable top! In fact Read More

Melilot Deer & Doe tutorial

Two Deer & Doe Melilot Shirt : a story of viscose and lawn!

Melilot Deer & Doe tutorial

Wow … it’s taken me some time to put this post together; I made my first Melilot just before Christmas and the second sometime early in the New Year! But sometimes I get caught in a sewing stint I don’t want to break … or life happens … and then we launched #sewtogetherforsummer 2018 so this post kind of got put on a back burner. But, excuses aside, we’re here now so let’s dive straight in shall we!?

The Melilot is my first foray into the Deer & Doe collection and it’s fair to say it was something of a revelation. Longer term readers of this blog may well know that one of my biggest (literally!) fitting issues is my chest. I’m a D cup and if put on a few lbs that’s the first place the weight goes. Not on my backside which is where I’d like it, thank you very much. I usually have two big issues (ahem) which are that I want the correct fit at the chest but also I generally dislike garments that hang boxily from the apex of my chest down to the hemline. From a sideways vantage, this just adds masses of unwanted visual width, so that I look like an ice cream cone. Especially given that I’m smaller in the hip. There, that’s my residual self-image in a nutshell!

In terms of looking for a shirt/blouse pattern then, I’m also looking for darts and a curved waistline. The D&D Melilot has that shaping plus a lovely curved high-low hemline which rises at the side seam, which all helps to balance out the proportions. Once I’d finally cottoned onto the fact that Deer & Doe draft for a C/D cup I jumped for joy. (I didn’t literally jump for joy, you understand, as that would have been an unnecessary bout of exertion, haha … I’m sooooo lazy!)

Sewing pattern review

The fact that the Melilot also has drop shoulders meant I didn’t worry about taking them in; I may be larger in the chest but my frame is still relatively petite.

Anyhoo, Pattern duly purchased. I opted for a mix of both Views, deciding on the longer sleeve and collar of View A and the exposed button placket of View B. Worth noting that the right and left side of both Views are all cut from the same one pattern piece; if you opt for View A (the hidden button placket) you’ll need to trim your left piece down to its marked line. For View B both left and right pieces are the same, narrower, width – just double check the pattern pieces before you trace/cut).

I decided not to bother toiling it, deciding that this time I could live with a win or fail scenario and so cut straight into my fabric, a lovely soft and drapey viscose / rayon from JoAnns; its slightly sheer but I figured the lined breast pockets would be enough to preserve my modesty! (But then I go ahead and wear a black bra in these photos haha!) I cut according to my bust measurement without making any alterations to the pattern apart from reducing the length of the sleeve by an 1”. I always have to shorten sleeves so figured it was a relatively safe bet. Yeah, well, I was wrong because…

…whilst it generally fit straight out of the envelope my shortened sleeves are, well, too short! The length looks ok until I raise my arms out straight in front of me, wherein they start to ride up my forearm a bit. I duly added 0.5” back in to the pattern for my second version. Nope, still not long enough. For my third, I’ll cut the original sleeve length. *rolls eyes*

Sewing a sleeve placket.jpg

So what about construction? I found Deer & Does’ instructions concise. Any by ‘concise’ I mean there’s no hand holding. You are instructed to ‘do’ without much further elaboration. For the most part this was welcome. I took pause at the sleeve placket though as this was my first time putting a full one together so I went straight to YouTube to see if I could find anything helpful. I did..this one from Laurie Kurutz:

This really helped me visualise what the instructions were telling me to do and I soon, gleefully, had it sewn up. (Admittedly, being true to my nerd-like self I did go all out and practice it on a scrap piece of fabric first!) And, because I was working with such a floaty fabric I opted to stabilise the area and placket piece with Sullivan’s Fabric Stabiliser (which I buy in bulk whenever I can from the States) but which you could probably get away with using a spray starch? I love Sullivan’s though as it doesn’t gunk up the needle and washes out really well.

Sewing a curved hem.jpg

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s talk about the hem! This is done quite early on. It’s quite a dramatic curve so I sewed in a line of basting stitches just at the curve within the seam allowance that I used to slightly gather the curve into place, making it easier to flip into position.

Sewing collars tutorial.jpg

As for the collar, I completely ignored the instructions altogether. I will only ever sew collars on according to this method. Again, it worked a treat.

Melilot blouse sewing pattern review & Doe.jpg

Once made, I dove in pretty quickly with my second. I decided to make it in a cotton lawn rather than a rayon this time, to see if it would translate into making it more of a shirt than a blouse. I chose this ‘Spring Serenade’ fabric from Dragonfly Fabrics. When it arrived it was slightly more of a muted mauve than the pink I was expecting but as it is, it’s probably more ‘me’ than a pink anyway! (I found it hard to photograph true…the collar pic is probably closest) It’s such a lovely print and whilst not usually something I would pick out, I couldn’t resist.

I had a little bit of a think about pattern placement and decided it would be rather cute to have a birdy perched on the pocket.

How to sew a shirt collar.jpg

I went all out with this one and opted for self-covered buttons.. that I didn’t actually cover myself! I sent a sizeable off-cut of fabric to my local Button Covering Service  and asked for size 15mm squishy canvas backed buttons. This means the buttons can be sewn on to lay completely flat. I really dislike buttons with too long a shank as they can droop like sad apologetic things. In hindsight I think they’re a little too big and I will order a size smaller next time. Other than that they are perfect and a million times better than buttons I’ve covered myself.

Self-covered button_s.jpg

All in all though, in terms of comfort of wear, I prefer the viscose one. The lawn one feels very shirt like, which was intended, but it also feels quite formal. And by the time I got around to taking these pics I’d put on a little bit of weight (right where I really don’t need it!) and it’s pulling slightly whereas the viscose takes the strain! Looking at these pics, I wonder if that’s why the pockets seem to be sitting higher too..oh Boobs!!! I’ve taken up swimming so they’ll both fit properly again soon! But there’s no doubt about it, the viscose one skims and drapes whereas the lawn one I prefer tucked in…just got to make the perfect trousers to go with it now! And there’s no denying I love that bird perched on my pocket.

Melilot Review Deer & Doe

So, yeah, all in all, this is a great pattern which I will reach for again and again I’m sure. I’m certainly keen to try some of Deer & Does other patterns.

Which of the two do you prefer? What’s your favourite Deer & Doe pattern?

Until next time, thanks for reading!

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Sleepwear Sewing patterns

Sewing a Gift to Myself : the Piccadilly Pyjamas by Nina Lee

Sleepwear Sewing patterns


I’m so (sew!) happy to be sharing this make with you as it fills me with much joy! Having sewn nothing but sensible winter jersey for the last while, it felt incredible to get my hands on this extravagant cotton lawn and to indulge myself in whimsy. The Piccadilly Pyjamas by Nina Lee in this amazing Lady McElroy ‘Panda Retreat’ cotton lawn (link to fabric below ;-)) are a gift to myself. Sewing something to wrap up in that feels luxurious and makes me smile feels like the ultimate in self-care; not sewing myself a pretty dress but sleepwear, haha! But I love sewing sleepwear/loungewear and feel I ought to sew myself another matching Suki Kimono and slippers to go with them too!

The Piccadilly Pyjamas are my first make from the Nina Lee pattern house (and they’re unlikely to be my last as I’m kind of fascinated with their Southbank and Carnaby dresses too!); there’s some nostalgia on my part here, having spent the whole of my 20s living and working in these areas of London but, ultimately, it’s the design lines I love…

… I mean how cute these PJs are with their little puffed sleeves, shaped binding and mandarin collar! I love how the binding curves in key places, like the outside leg seam, shirt side seam and pocket:

Piccadilly mandarin pyjamas sewing pattern

I made these as my monthly make for the Minerva Craft Blogger Network Post so you can find the full post, more pics, details on the alterations I made and links to the supplies I used, over there You can find the pattern here.

Sewing buttonholes

Just a quick add to say that this was the first time I used my chisel to open the buttonholes. I’m a total convert now! Just, y’know put something underneath to protect your table!

What’s been your most indulgent make of late?!

See you soon (until next time, many thanks for the astonishingly positive response to the 2018 #sewtogetherforsummer challenge!)




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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



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